When Did You Last Check Your Fuseboard?
What does a fuseboard do?
Your fuseboard, or to give it the proper name your Consumer Unit, Is the electrical hub of your home. It distributes electricity to your lights, plug sockets, oven etc if working correctly It should protect your cables from overload. This gives you and your family protection from serious shock or electrical fire. However, most people never give it a second thought. I often hear people say ‘It worked fine, so we just left it alone’ or in some cases the home owner doesn’t even know where it is. It is important to maintain your electrical installation and a functioning and safe fuseboard goes a long way to doing this.
Your fuseboard is made up of the following switches:
- A) Main Switch – this allows you to turn off the electricity supply to your home. You might have more than one mains switch, for example if your home has electric storage heaters. In this case you may have a separate fusebox.
- B) Residual Current Devices (RCD) these are switches that trip a circuit under dangerous conditions, and instantly disconnect the electricity.
- C) Circuit Breakers – these are automatic protection devices in the fusebox that switch off a circuit if they detect a fault. They are similar in size to fuses, but give more precise protection. When they ‘trip’, you can simply reset the switch. But make sure you correct the fault first.
Fuses (may be found in place of circuit breakers) – rewirable fuses have a piece of special fuse wire running between two screws. When a fault or overload current flows through the fuse wire, it will become hot and melt. The melted fuse breaks the circuit, disconnecting the faulty circuit and keeping you safe.
How Do You Know If You Need A Fuseboard Upgrade?
- Age- If your fuseboard has not been changed in twenty years then it is likely not compliant with current standards and may not provide you with basic protection. Technology and safety associated with consumer units has also moved on massively in the last thirty years from both the perspective of shock and fire protection and also the ease of use for the homeowner.
- Does your consumer unit have an RCD or Residual Current Device? Most modern consumer units should have and this single device massively increases the safety of your home electrics.
- Live parts exposed- Are the working parts, fuses, or circuit breakers enclosed or are parts of the board exposed? It’s surprising how many fuseboards we come across with fuseholders or blanking plates missing leave live parts exposed to touch.
- Fire Risk. As mentioned above, is your fuseboard constructed of wood or plastic? If it is then it may not meet fire regulations.