Testing old fuses

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  #1  
Old 12-02-05, 02:41 PM
darinstarr
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Testing old fuses

Hello

We are going to be replacing the cheesy-wood paneling in our laundry room with drywall. There are 2 small fuse boxes attached to one of the walls that presumably used to power the appliances. Currently the appliances are receiving power from our new 200A service panel located in a completely different area.

I know nothing about these old fuse boxes (not just the 2 in this room, but in general I am unfamiliar with the technology). How can I tell for certain that these are inactive, and is there a procedure for safely removing them?

Thanks!

-Darin
 
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  #2  
Old 12-02-05, 05:19 PM
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This will be a code issue for sure. I don't know what it is, but I have common sense. If you find any unused, deaded off/capped off/electrical taped wires stuffed inside your new panel box (the 200 amp breaker box), I would say that you just can't go and disconnect the old appliance throw switch fuse boxes and stuff the wires back in the wall! - as someone, in theory, could be a moron and energize the wires still in the new panel box for some reason.

But I bet it is okay if you make sure there are no such unused loose wires in the new panel box. Or, if the old wires ARE in there, that you will have to pull those wires out of the new panel box and away from the panel box as far as possible/remove in their entirety, so nobody got the idea to use them again.

Now, up at the throw switch fuse boxes: With voltmeter in hand, set to 250 volt setting, open the box door. You will have incoming and outcoming wires per each fuse. Test both wires, per each fuse, to ground. ANY hot reading in there, with the switch on OR off means you still have current to the box. If no, then you don't. And if no unexplained wires are in the new 200 amp breaker panel, then I'd say you can maybe, to be safe, nut/tape the ends of the wires and shove them in the wall, then remove the now empty fuse boxes.

Anyone here have issue with this?
 
  #3  
Old 12-02-05, 05:42 PM
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To test for power use either a voltmeter or a simple neon light tester. As ecman1 stated, test any and every wire you find and test each side of the fuse area (the center and the sides). Test with one probe on a good ground, but also test various combinations of wires in the old fuse box. You shouldn't find power at all.

Then I would take a visual inspection of where the wires go. Try to trace them. If your basement isn't finished then it shouldn't be too hard.

You should remove as much of the wire as possible. Your goal is to remove it completely, but you can't where it is running through a wall, at least usually not without tearing out part of the wall.

When you have removed as much as you can then mark the ends as abandoned and leave them in the walls.

If you do find the other end is in your main panel, then you will have to pull it out of the panel. You cannot have one end in the panel and the other end in the wall.
 
  #4  
Old 12-02-05, 05:54 PM
darinstarr
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Originally Posted by ecman1
Now, up at the throw switch fuse boxes: With voltmeter in hand, set to 250 volt setting, open the box door. You will have incoming and outcoming wires per each fuse. Test both wires, per each fuse, to ground. ANY hot reading in there, with the switch on OR off means you still have current to the box. If no, then you don't. And if no unexplained wires are in the new 200 amp breaker panel, then I'd say you can maybe, to be safe, nut/tape the ends of the wires and shove them in the wall, then remove the now empty fuse boxes.
Perfect, thanks. I have easy access to both crawlspace and attic, so once verified that the lines are dead I will be removing them completely to avoid any possibility of future confusion.

For fun,
here is a picture of the fuses in question.

Re: the box on the left - nothing is connected to the 'load' terminals. The 'line' terminals go...somewhere (shrug). No other markings of any significance that I can read.

Re: the box on the right - 4 25A fuses, with ambiguous markings that somewhat describe locations in that room (on the inside of the box cover, not pictured). The printing on the throw switches says "On when fully in. Reverse for off." I'm not sure what to make of that.

Egads - just took the face off the box on the right and found this mess. Some of this wiring looks similar to stuff that's entering my service panel.

Time to grab the voltmeter.
 
  #5  
Old 12-02-05, 06:29 PM
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Nice pic!

Don't take things for granted. I always make sure my voltmeter is working when I have a 0 volts reading. Don't ASSUME it's 0 volts. I have owned one too many of these testers where the plug-in lead doesn't make good contact, and have had to swivel it around in the meter. I often double check by taking an ohms reading between the probes of the instrument, and also check voltage in a known powered outlet.

Don't asume the ground wire in that fuse box is connected either. Double check by jumpering to another known ground source if you have to.

Murphy's Law has taught me to be wary of EVERYthing.
 
  #6  
Old 12-02-05, 08:23 PM
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I'm guessing the pull-out on the top right was the old main for the house.

I wonder what the amperage rating is of the cartridge fuses in the top left pull out with (*maybe*) 10 guage wire connected?


Anyone else think those four 25A fuses were feeding general purpose circuits that should have had either a 15A or a 20A fuse?

And, is it me, or do they have lots of individual conductors entering this box with no fittings for conduit (and no romex connectors if it is romex). I only see two fittings, and one is unused (top).


Oh well, glad that got replaced!
 
  #7  
Old 12-02-05, 11:50 PM
darinstarr
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The fuse on the left of the left box has a tab inside that says 'General Electric Co. 30A' - the other one says 'Jefferson something something' but I can't make out the rest.

The 25A fuses are marked as follows:

"Washer Plugs" - assumption: 120V outlet on east wall
"South Plugs" - assumption: 120V outlet on south wall
"Freezer" - assumption: 120V outlet on north wall
"Ceiling Lights" - One 75W bulb

Yeah, overkill.

There is some brand-new-looking orange-sheated cable feeding fuse #2 there, with red/black/copper wires. An identical looking cable is coming from a 30A 240V breaker on the main service panel (there is no other similar cable from the panel). I had mapped that circuit before (assuming this archaic, tucked-away fuse mess was inactive) and it contains the 4 above-mentioned items, my 240V dryer, and the plugs/lights for an adjacent room. It appears that at least some of this is live.

More thorough testing to be done tomorrow. Should this be alarming or is it fairly standard procedure?
 
  #8  
Old 12-03-05, 01:55 PM
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It should be somewhat alarming, having individual conductors, rather than a cable or conduit. I'd see what is in the wall and go from there. I'd look at replacing the fusebox with a small sub panel. I'd like to know where the wires going to the range fuse go.
 
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