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Fusebox Check

Is it time to replace your old fuse board?

Hidden away in a cupboard somewhere, your fuse board is rarely given a thought, but it could be struggling to keep up with the demands you’re placing on it. In fact, you may have already started to notice the effect it’s having on your electrics – flickering lights, frequent tripping, and scorched sockets are just some of the signs you need to replace your old fuse board. In this blog, we look at when to upgrade and who can do the work.

What is a fuse board (or fuse box)?

Whether you call it a fuse board, fuse box, or a consumer unit, this container is an important part of your electrical system. It’s designed to keep you safe and protect your property by acting as a gatekeeper for the electricity that comes into your home.

A fuse board is typically made up of a main switch, which controls all your electrical circuits, from your lights to your power outlets, and a series of fuses and breakers.

Fuse boxes that are more than 25 years old are unlikely to have the right safety mechanisms fitted. Though it will have complied with safety standards at the time it was fitted, it’s unlikely to meet the requirements of a modern fuse board.

When to replace your old fuse board

Safety is the biggest reason to replace your old fuse board – times have changed and your fuse board is unlikely to be able to manage the demands of a modern household.

Signs that your fuse board needs upgrading include:

  • a constant burning smell
  • scorch or burn marks on your fuse board
  • frequent tripping
  • flickering or dimming lights
  • sparking or discolored power outlets
  • unresponsive sockets

If it has a wood backing or asbestos flashing, it’s time to replace your old fuse board.

You may also need to upgrade it if you’re planning an extension to your home or adding a new high-powered electrical device, such as a hot tub or power shower.

Running too many devices from an outdated fuse box can cause your wiring to overheat, melt, and ultimately, cause a fire. When you add up all the things in your house that run off electricity, you might be surprised at how much your old fuse board is managing.

Old Electrical Cabinet

Modern fuse board safety devices

Modern fuse boards are fitted with two devices that are designed to protect you from over-current (miniature circuit breaker) and earth leakage (residual current device).

Miniature circuit breaker

Over-current – or overloading – is caused when too many devices require power at the same time and the capacity of the circuit is exceeded.

The answer to this problem is a miniature circuit breaker (or trip switch), which is designed to break the circuit when the electrical current reaches a certain threshold.

This prevents the wires from overheating and causing a fire. 


Residual current device (RCD)

If you cut through a power cable, then you’re at risk of giving yourself a nasty – and potentially fatal – electric shock. That’s because the current running through the wire has to find another way to ‘earth’ itself, even if it means going through you. 

An RCD trips when it recognises an earth leakage to protect you from electric shock.

The alternative to these two safety devices is an RCBO – a residual current circuit breaker with over-current protection. The benefit of this device is that it gives each circuit its own dedicated ‘trip switch’, so if one circuit trips they don’t all lose power.

Can you do the work yourself?

The work required to replace your old fuse board with a modern consumer unit is considered notifiable, which means it has to be carried out and signed-off by a qualified electrician.

Electrical installations in domestic buildings are covered under part P of the building regulations and have to meet strict safety standards. Qualified electricians who are registered under a competent person’s scheme can self-certify their own work.

Undertaking a full upgrade of a consumer unit is an involved and technical process that should only be carried out by someone with the right training. Attempting to do it yourself could put you and your family at risk of serious injury from fire or electrocution.

Electricity causes over 20,000 fires in UK homes every year, and 11% of electrical fires are caused by faults in installations. To prevent a fire or injury, Electrical Safety First recommends that you have a residual current device fitted by a qualified electrician. 

It’s not just old fuse boards that need attention; regardless of age, you should have your unit checked every 10 years (and when you move house) by an electrician.

Why choose EMCAL-Systems?

You’re in safe hands with EMCAL-Systems because our electricians are trained to the highest industry standards. With over 30 years’ experience in installations, we can identify the right consumer unit to match the requirements of your busy household.

We’re here to advise you on the safest and best-performing option to suit you. From old wiring to new circuits, we’ll ensure your fuse board can keep pace with the changes.

As a local business, our reputation is everything, and EMCAL-Systems is proud to be a member of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce. From booking through to after-care, you can expect to receive a first-class service from our hard-working electricians. 

Should you replace your old fuse board?

If your fuse board was installed a long time ago, then the chances are you’ve already started to notice signs that it’s struggling to cope. Flickering lights and frequent tripping can be a nuisance, but more importantly your old fuse board could be dangerous.

Modern consumer units are fitted with safety devices that are better at protecting you from electrical fires and could save you from receiving a dangerous electric shock.

To replace your old fuse board with a new unit isn’t as straightforward as changing a light bulb – this is a job that must be carried out (and signed-off) by a qualified electrician. If you’d like a quote for installation or you simply need advice on whether your fuse box needs upgrading, contact the friendly team at EMCAL-Systems by phone or email.