Can I remove fuses individually?

Discussion in 'Electrics UK' started by Arbu, 16 Nov 2020.

  1. Arbu

    Arbu

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    Is it safe to remove individual fuses in my fuse box when I want to isolate the electricity to a certain part of my flat, or should I always turn off the whole supply using the switch on the right?

    I'd rather do the former because if I turn off the whole power I have to turn off my computer and reset mains powered timers etc when I turn the power back on. But I'm just wondering if it's safe to pull these fuses out without turning off the electricity first? Picture of my fuse box below.

    Thanks.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. EFLImpudence

    EFLImpudence

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    You should switch off.
     
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  4. endecotp

    endecotp

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    Is the flat rented, or do you own it?
     
  5. oldbutnotdead

    oldbutnotdead

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    As above. Pulling the fuse doesn't disconnect the neutral plus you're relying on someones markings.
     
  6. Arbu

    Arbu

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    OK, thanks, seems clear. I gather that there is some risk of getting a shock from the neutral. I have my own markings and it's always been in relation to light fittings that I've turned the power off before, so I could turn the light on before removing the fuse and see that the light was then off in order to be sure. But I'll switch off from now on.

    I own the flat. I suppose that if I were to rent it out I would be obliged to replace this fusebox with something more modern?
     
  7. EFLImpudence

    EFLImpudence

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    Possible if there are faults.

    Turn on light.
    Switch off power.
    Remove fuse.
    Switch on power.
    Observe light.

    No one knows. The legislation is very badly written.
     
  8. flameport

    flameport

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    Switch off before removing fuses, and don't insert fuses with it switched on either.
    Risks include fusewire protruding from the ends of the carriers which will shock and kill you, carrier breaking as it's removed, fuse blowing as it's inserted and spraying molten copper onto your fingers.

    Fusebox is several decades overdue for replacement.
     
  9. ericmark

    ericmark

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    This means if using an earth rod (TT) the neutral does need switching, but if the earth is supplied by the DNO then in theory you don't need to turn off the isolator, however you are then relying on the wiring being correct to start with, and I have lost count of the number of lighting circuits where the two way switching has resulted in a borrowed neutral (really a borrowed line) so in real terms I would regard the circuit as still live with only the fuse removed. And would always use a neon screwdriver so if there is a borrowed neutral then likely I will get a warning.

    With no RCD protection it is very easy for a borrowed neutral to be missed, even with RCD protection I have seen electricians put both lighting MCB's on the same RCD to stop it tripping, clearly wrong when aware of a borrowed neutral not to correct, but it is still done, even using the main isolator I have found live circuits supplied from next door, so all has to be tested for dead using a non powered voltage tester and checking it is working after the test with a proving unit.

    However as DIY we are unlikely to have proving units, and also lacking other test equipment, and with no RCD protection it is rather non forgiving if an error is made, I fitted RCD protection to my old house with that type of fuse box back in early 1990's, this house was done within 6 months of buying. I know there is no law to say must be RCD protected, but if you intend to do any DIY electrics I would say RCD is first job. I still used the old Wylex but as you can see DSC_3921.jpg still fitted RCD protection.
     
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  11. endecotp

    endecotp

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    You should budget for replacing it at some point.
    In particular, if you’re doing DIY electrics elsewhere then a replacement with RCDs will make things safer if you get something wrong while e.g. wiring a new light.
    I hope you have the cover for the fuses. I note also two screws are missing from the panel.

    It is understandable to want to turn off single circuits. For example, you might want to have the lights on so you can see what you’re doing while working on a socket. You shouldn’t do this, but I bet a lot of people here do it anyway (I know I do - but I have RCDs). The safest way to do this is to switch off the main switch, remove the fuse cover, remove the fuse, replace the cover, turn on. Repeat in reverse when done. Double-check for live wires before touching anything, in case it’s not on the circuit you thought it was. Of course that doesn’t help with your computer powering off.
     
  12. sparkwright

    sparkwright

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    The trouble with turning off the double pole main switch only and leaving the fuses in place is that if the main switch is faulty, and only the neutral actually gets opened and live remains closed, then it's going to appear the power is off when actually the live is, well, live.

    Always confirm the circuit is off with a two probe voltage tester.
     
  13. john4703

    john4703

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    Way back in the days when that fuse box was considered to be really modern I was told to always turn off the main switch before removed a fuse.
    The reason is that if you pull out a fuse that is carrying some current it is possible to get arcing and nasty burns from molten metal, not likely but best to be safe.
     
  14. Harry Bloomfield

    Harry Bloomfield

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    Yes, but even then there is risk from what is called a 'borrowed neutral', which is where the neutral of the circuit you are working on, is borrowed or used by another circuit. When you disconnect the neutrals you then find something else goes off and it leaves you working and exposed to live neutral. Turn everything off and you should be safe(r).
     
  15. ericmark

    ericmark

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    I had a Wylex fuse box in this house, I changed it for a all RCBO consumer unit and found faults previously unknown with a 4 gang switch where the wrong neutral had been selected, the fault was not found when testing at the consumer unit, only latter once I started to use it. I would expect the fault had been there since the house was built so likely been there some 50 years.

    The problem is in the 70's and 80's there was a lack of testing, in 1992 when the wiring regulations became BS 7671 there was a move for people to pass exams to show they knew what the regulations required, and we started to see electrical installation certificates raised and periodic inspection reports, together with type tested distribution units called consumer units. But before that date it was everything forward and trust to the lord.

    Even in 2001 my son got a job wiring houses with no formal qualifications, (although he had worked with me, so had received some training) the inspector would visit once a week, but he was not really an apprentice as no one really looking at what he was doing, and when I paid for him to take a series of exams, inspection and testing being one, instead of the company saying oh good, they let him go, they did not want trained people wiring houses, they wanted cheap people who would do as they were told. All changed now, but often houses wired by semi-skilled labour. And inspection and testing was does it work, if so it passed.

    Pre-Part P regulations electricians would move around, I know I did, one week wiring a house, next week designing a candle making machine, the next working rewiring a shop, so you could get an electrician with 10 years experience wiring his first house. In those days you were an electrician, we were not divided into domestic, commercial, industrial, maintenance, installation etc. Also builders, kitchen fitters and plumbers often did there own electrics, and to be frank there was some really shoddy workmanship. There are still cow boys today, but not as many. And in the 80's domestic electricians were called house basher's and considered the lowest of the low in electrical skill. Most technical job they did was to wire the central heating.

    So you need today to test everything including before you start, not uncommon to find a radial circuit feed from a ring final without any current limiting fuse as it moves from a 30 amp to 20 amp cabling, i.e. a whole row of unfused spurs. Back in the day in the 80's I carried 20 amp Wylex fuse carriers which I would replace the 30 amp with when I found a row of unfused spurs. Always had a glut of 30 amp fuses and 13 amp fuses.
     
  16. RF Lighting

    RF Lighting

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    How’s this for a stark reminder of why it’s important to switch off before removing fuses...

    2CD8CDB6-4FDC-4245-A3C7-0004CB33F01A.jpeg
    (Stolen picture)
     
  17. Taylortwocities

    Taylortwocities

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    The fuse board should have a cover over the fuses (where’s that?).
    I seem to remember that the cover is embossed with wording that says to turn off the main switch before removing fuses.
     
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