Trouble locating fuse controlling garbage disposal...

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  #1  
Old 11-16-12, 06:14 PM
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Trouble locating fuse controlling garbage disposal...

So, my wife inherited a house that was built in the 60's. As far as she knows, it has just the one fuse panel (which houses the old style fuses).

I need to replace the switch for the garbage disposal, as sometimes it's hard to shut it off. I pulled out one fuse at a time and she tested the garbage disposal. We went through all 12 fuses, but not a single one "disabled" the disposal.

I went looking in closets and other areas of the house that I thought might be hiding a fuse box, but no suck luck. One fuse did turn out the lights in the kitchen (but not the disposal). One would think they'd be on the same ckt.

Any ideas what could be going on here? Is it possible someone "hot-wired" the disposal and bypassed the panel?

Thanks,

Andy
 
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  #2  
Old 11-16-12, 06:22 PM
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Anything is possible...if you shut off the main it better shut off lol

Any other switches or circuits near the existing switch?
 
  #3  
Old 11-16-12, 06:23 PM
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Two thoughts,

1) It may be double wired - that is, it kept tripping the breaker, so somebody wired it into
two circuits.

2) It may be wired onto a "service circuit" that is actually located BEFORE the service panel.
Those breakers would be in a small panel between the main box and the panel.

Simply test - turn off the main breaker - try the garbage disposal if it runs, it's wired INFRONT
of the main breaker.

In an old home, you can usually trace a wire from the kitchen back to the panel, older homes don't usually have a lot of wires to follow.
 
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Old 11-16-12, 06:27 PM
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and when you find where it comes from, make sure there's some protection ahead of it
 
  #5  
Old 11-16-12, 06:31 PM
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Is it possible someone "hot-wired" the disposal and bypassed the panel?
That's not likely. Without knowing more about your obsolete fuse panel it is hard to guess what your problem could be. Do you have a main fusible pullout? Have you tried disconnecting the main to see if that interrupts the power to the disposal? Are there any branch pullouts? A picture of the fuse panel would be helpful.
 
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Old 11-16-12, 06:35 PM
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1) It may be double wired - that is, it kept tripping the breaker, so somebody wired it into
two circuits.

2) It may be wired onto a "service circuit" that is actually located BEFORE the service panel.
Those breakers would be in a small panel between the main box and the panel.

Simply test - turn off the main breaker - try the garbage disposal if it runs, it's wired INFRONT
of the main breaker.
The OP stated he had a fuse panel.
 
  #7  
Old 11-16-12, 06:38 PM
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my wife inherited a house that was built in the 60's. As far as she knows, it has just the one fuse panel (which houses the old style fuses).
BTW, fuses are the ultimate in circuit protection. The problem with fuses is the fuse box they are installed in are frequently 50+ years old.
 
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Old 11-16-12, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Hal_S
Those breakers would be in a small panel between the main box and the panel.
Originally Posted by CasualJoe
The OP stated he had a fuse panel.
Good catch -

Those fuses would be in a small panel before the main box.

I've heard of some funky wiring situations where old time high-amp circuits
were actually wired in BEFORE the main fuse box, with their own fuses.

Could be that the prior owner wired the disposal into one half of the electric range line or some some other "creative" circuit.
 
  #9  
Old 11-16-12, 07:06 PM
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Does the house have a dishwasher? If so, did you test to see if you killed the power to it? How about to the refrigerator? The range hood? The two dedicated small appliance circuits feeding the receptacles above the countertop?
 
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Old 11-17-12, 06:22 AM
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my wife inherited a house that was built in the 60's. As far as she knows, it has just the one fuse panel (which houses the old style fuses).
Going out on a limb here to make an assumption. If this house was built in the 60s and has a fuse panel, it was likely an economy build and propoably didn't have many frills such as a dishwasher unless it has been remodeled. Circuit breaker panels were widely available in the 60s, but fuse panels were cheaper. Going a little further out on that limb, if it has been remodeled, it surely would have had the service panel upgraded for more circuits. Back then there were no requirements for two small applinace branch circuits and a minor remodel quite certainly didn't include adding them if the original 12 circuit fuse panel is still being used. I think the probability of the disposer being wired from the existing circuit at the kitchen counter is very high. I'd start looking for that fuse first. What we really need though, is more information and a picture of that fuse panel.
 
  #11  
Old 11-17-12, 07:16 AM
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Somewhere in a junction or outlet box, someone may have mistakenly bridged 2 circuits together ie: connected all the blacks and all the whites together because it made sense to them at the time.
 
  #12  
Old 11-17-12, 01:08 PM
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There is a light switch real close to the garbage disposal. Why do you ask?

Amazingly, there is no main breaker/main disconnect in this fuse panel.

The house DOES have a dishwasher (and washer/dryer). In all, the fuse panel has a total of 12 fuses..nothing else).

I'll have my wife send a pic of the fuse panel later today. If there's another panel in that house, it must be hidden well. I pulled out every single fuse and never could disable the garbage disposal.
 
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Old 11-17-12, 01:33 PM
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Ok, working, literally, from top down, where does the line from the pole come into the house?

North, south, east west.

What wall is the fuse box on, NSEW, or is it an interior wall?

Sounds to me like the initial fuse box is just being re-used as a subpanel,
which means that somewhere, behind a painting, in a closet, or attic or basement,
there is another electrical panel lurking.

Trace where the biggest wire coming into the fuse box comes from....
 
  #14  
Old 11-17-12, 02:06 PM
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Somewhere in a junction or outlet box, someone may have mistakenly bridged 2 circuits together ie: connected all the blacks and all the whites together because it made sense to them at the time.
This is also a definite possibility and happens more times than you might think. To check for this, remove all 12 fuses and see if the disposer has power to it, hopefully it won't. If it doesm't, now start replacing the fuses one at a time and check the disposer for power after replacing each fuse. If two circuits are cross connected, this is the first step to find one of the circuits.
 
  #15  
Old 11-17-12, 03:37 PM
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Hal, I'll have to trace the main power once I'm back in town (the house is in another state). I CAN tell you that power comes in on one corner of the house (in the back) and the fuse panel is in the garage (so it has to "go through" a bedroom, dining room, the kitchen, and then into the garage).

Here's a pic of the fuse panel. She's a beauty, isnt' she?

http://i1098.photobucket.com/albums/...55-2295915.jpg

Next time I'm at the house, I'll make a note of where each fuse is plugged into (some are time delay and some are not. I think all of them are 15A if I'm not mistaken). Then I'll pull all of them and see what happens.

Thanks,

Andy
 
  #16  
Old 11-17-12, 04:43 PM
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that power comes in on one corner of the house (in the back) and the fuse panel is in the garage (so it has to "go through" a bedroom, dining room, the kitchen, and then into the garage).
Even back when this was wired it would not have been code compliant to run an un-fused line that far through a house so I'd almost bet the turkey that there is a main fuse box and that is a sub. The GD may be on that main fuse panel.
 
  #17  
Old 11-17-12, 08:01 PM
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That fuse panel is obviously just for 120 volt circuits. Do you have any 240 volt appliances in your house, such as kitchen range, air conditioner, clothes dryer, etc? If so, there has GOT to be another panel somewhere. Is there another fuse panel outdoors, immediately under the electric meter?
 
  #18  
Old 11-18-12, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by hikerguy
I CAN tell you that power comes in on one corner of the house (in the back) and the fuse panel is in the garage (so it has to "go through" a bedroom, dining room, the kitchen, and then into the garage).
Well, what I'd do next is

A) scrounge around for an old battery powered radio, set it to AM band, around 600 seems to work well. When the radio is near an electric wire, you'll hear a distinctive hum.

B) Use the AM radio to follow the wires from the meter through the house to figure out where the wiring goes and look for that hidden panel.

If that doesn't work, or is inconclusive

C) Loosen the fuses in the garage (less energized circuits making noise).
Run some water in the sink and turn on the garbage disposal.
The garbage disposal should produce a strong AM humming, try that to follow the wiring from hte disposal towards the meter to find the hidden box.

One caveat, if the house is on a well, one of the fuses may be for a well pump, then water will run out after about 10 minutes, which would be bad for the garbage disposal.
 
  #19  
Old 11-18-12, 06:59 AM
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Ya know, Beachboy, it's funny you mention the dryer. I know we were running either the washer or dryer at the time I was pulling fuses and I remember thinking "I never heard the washer/dryer go off". This house is so junked up that we probably won't find it until we move all the stuff out

The dryer is the only thing I can think of that might be 230v (the stove/range is gas, the furnace is gas, and the only other big appliances are the fridge and dishwasher).

I will have to look under the main entrance meter. I'd agree, there has to be another panel somewhere.

Hal, I never heard of that radio trick. I'll have to give that a try if I can't locate the panel after we've moved everything out.

I believe the house is on city water.

thanks,

Andy
 
  #20  
Old 12-11-12, 05:38 PM
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Well Beachboy, you were correct. I just got back to this house a few days ago, walked out to where the main drop is, and there was a big panel staring me in the face. I still don't see a fuse breaker marked disposal, but I do see one marked for the range, dryer, and secondary fuse panel, so worst case I kill power to most of the house to swap out the disposal switch.

Thanks to all who helped on this one.

Andy
 
  #21  
Old 12-11-12, 09:08 PM
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Glad you found it, and thanks for letting us know!
 
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Old 12-11-12, 09:24 PM
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I still don't see a fuse breaker marked disposal
You won't. There is no such thing as a "fuse breaker". It just a breaker. It will be a single pole breaker either 15 amp or 20 amp. If there are only two pole breakers then either it is on a multi-wire circuit or it isn't there. The breaker will be either 15 or 20 amp.
 
  #23  
Old 12-13-12, 05:40 PM
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Lol. Good catch Ray. got my lingo mixed up there. But ya'll know what I meant
 
  #24  
Old 12-18-12, 05:34 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047
There is no such thing as a "fuse breaker".
Eh, that's what I'd call those little fuse shaped breakers to replace old edison fuses...



Had one of those in the old farmhouse as a kid,
old home and teen sister with an uber-watt hair dryer don't work well together.
 
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Old 12-22-12, 01:11 PM
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Never knew such a thing existed. Do they sell these to replace fuses that are marked for time delay? The fuse panel at the house has a few with either a TL or TD designation, and I believe one provides a time delay before tripping.

Andy
 
  #26  
Old 12-22-12, 02:22 PM
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A breaker by its very nature is time delay.
 
  #27  
Old 12-22-12, 06:42 PM
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I agree, but I could have sworn some were marked TL and some TD, and I thought one or the other had the words DELAY on it (which I took to mean it took a bit longer to trip). What's the distinction between these two types of fuses?
 
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Old 12-22-12, 07:46 PM
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Slow-Blow Fuses

Slow blow (time delay) fuses have built-in time delay features that prevent them from blowing during intermittent current surges (large motors, air conditioners and dryers). Time delay fuses blow under constant or repeated current overload conditions.


Read more: Difference Between Slow Blow & Time Delay Fuse | eHow.com Difference Between Slow Blow & Time Delay Fuse | eHow.com
 
  #29  
Old 12-23-12, 10:00 AM
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Thanks for clearing that up Ray.

Andy
 
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