In all domestic properties here in the UK, your electrical works are controlled by a fuse box. This unassuming box holds a lot of power, being the hub for which we can control the flow and distribution of our electricity throughout the day. It also offers us a means to protect ourselves from electric shock and deal with smaller faults without the cost of professional labour. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about your fuse box so you can be fully informed in your own home.

What Is a Fuse Box?

Also known as a consumer unit, your fuse box is a box located in your home that distributes electricity throughout each room and offers a range of controls to prevent injury. It contains 3 main switches which each have their own purpose within your electrical works. These are:

  • The mains switch – This will turn off all of the electricity within a property. It should be easy to locate and use, allowing you to switch off electricity in the event of an accident or during repair/remedial works.
  • The residual current device – These protective switches will automatically trip a circuit if a certain set of conditions are met. This will instantly disconnect the electricity supply. They are used to save lives, cutting the electrical power if someone comes into contact with a live cable or if there is a fault with a device.
  • The circuit breakers or fuses – Houses built after the 60’s will have circuit breakers. If they trip, you can reset them once the fault has been corrected. On the other hand, fuses will melt if a fault is detected. This then breaks the circuit, stopping the electricity and preventing electric shocks.

Where to Find Your Fuse Box?

For safety reasons, it is important that you know where the fuse box in your property is. Say, for example, you’re having a new fixed device installed. You will need to switch the electricity off in a certain room or in the entire house in order to eliminate potential risk hazards for your chosen electrician. Or, say a household device in your property is faulty and this causes the circuit to trip. You will need to know where the fuse box is in order to switch it back, once the issue has been corrected.

Whether you’ve just moved into the property or have lived there for some time, finding your fuse box is easy. It is normally located near to the main living area and can commonly be found:

  • Underneath the stairs
  • In a cupboard (hall, bedroom, boiler, immersion etc)
  • In a communal cupboard – if looking in flats
  • Adjacent to your front door if you live in a new build flat
  • In the garage
  • In the cellar

As a general rule of thumb, your fuse box will need to be within 3 meters of the electrical meter. You will normally be able to find these on the outside of your house – they are the big white boxes. We highly recommend making it a priority to check for the location of your fuse box when you first move into a new property.

How to Use a Fuse Box?

In general, your fuse box will work independently of any interference from you. If you identify a fault, you should enlist the support of a professional and competent electrician to carry out any remedial or repair works. However, one thing you may need to do every once in a while is to reset a tripped fuse. And, thankfully, this is a simple and straightforward task.

Why Would My Fuse Box Trip?

There are a number of things that can cause a trip. These vary from:

  • Overloading a circuit
  • Using too many devices at any given time
  • Using a faulty device
  • Faulty immersion heaters
  • Faulty connections

Modern circuit boxes are fitted with a circuit breaker fuse system. If a fault is detected, the switch will flip down. Older models may need rewiring or replacing if this happens and will require the support of a professional electrician to do this. If you are able to reset it yourself, you should:

  1. Open the cover of the fuse box/consumer unit
  2. Check to see which switches have flipped to the OFF position
  3. Flip the switch back to the ON position

If, once you’ve opened the cover, you do not see any of the switches in the OFF position, you will need to check your RCD switches. These need to be at the top. Once all switches have been returned to their ON position, the electricity in your home should start to flow as needed once more.

What Happens If It Keeps Tripping?

If your fuse box continues to trip regularly, you will need to identify which appliance is causing the issue. You can do this by a process of elimination – unplug all devices in the house and plug them back in individually until the circuit trips again. Once you have found the culprit, visually check the cables for any damage and consider replacing them to prevent this from happening in the future.

When to Call in the Professionals?

While using electricity has become commonplace in our modern lives, it’s important to remember that contact with it can cause serious injuries and even death. If the fault you’re experiencing cannot be solved by flipping a trip switch or replacing a faulty device, a professional and competent electrician is the best person to help you identify the issue. Electrical faults, when left unattended, can cause anything from electrical shocks through to fires. So it is important that you tackle these swiftly to keep everyone in the property safe.

Here at MJH Electricals, we have extensive knowledge in domestic electrics and are on hand to help solve and repair any issues you may be having around the home. For more information or to speak to one of our specialist team today, please call us on 01278 322816 or via email at