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Old 05-30-2008, 08:50 PM   #1
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100 Amp Fuse - issue - HELP!


I'm hoping someone here can give me some advice or maybe help with this issue.

Quick History:
The townhouse we live in is about 30 years old. We actually just sold it for a new home, but still have another 2 months before the closing date. The electrical panel here is still on breakers and upper half of this place is still aluminum wiring (). We've been here 5 years and never had any problems with the electrical, until now.

Problem:
About 2 weeks ago, I was watching tv when everything shut off. I assumed the power went out, but my wife had yelled from the basement something smelled like smoke. I raced down to find the 100amp fuse (pictured below) had apparently gotten so hot it started smoking or even caught fire not 100% sure. I shut down the power, and replaced it with a used "backup" fuse and everything came back on and works fine.

Current Issue:
For whatever reason today I thought I'd check it out again.
The fuse on the left side seems to get very hot at times, and this has me worried. I have since removed the used backup fuse and replaced it with a brand new 100amp fuse. The fuse on the right is never warm to the touch.

Questions:

  • Should these fuses get warm or even hot when alot of power is being used in the home? (Washer/Dryer/TV's/Computers etc)
  • Should I be worried?
Here are a snap shot of my panel. The fuses I am talking about are the big ones on the left side of the panel.

Thanks for looking, I appreciate any help or advice you can give me.





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Old 05-30-2008, 11:20 PM   #2
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100 Amp Fuse - issue - HELP!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Leenders View Post

Questions:

  • Should these fuses get warm or even hot when alot of power is being used in the home? (Washer/Dryer/TV's/Computers etc)
  • Should I be worried?
Well, fuses should have effectively little resistance and therefore do not typically dissipate heat. I'd be concerned that the heat is actually being produced at the blade connection and may appear to make the fuse seem like the heat producer due to convection.

It appears that you have a fused disconnect to the left. If so, I'd try shutting off the power (this will blacken your entire town home), and removing/inspecting the blades on the fuse holders (look for corrosion or carbon/pitting). Next, I would make sure that the terminals below are tightened down.

I'm concerned about the following statement you made:

...my wife had yelled from the basement something smelled like smoke. I raced down to find the 100amp fuse (pictured below) had apparently gotten so hot it started smoking or even caught fire not 100% sure. I shut down the power, and replaced it with a used "backup" fuse and everything came back on and works fine.

Fuses do two things. They open when their current rating is exceeded and once that has occurred, they provide protection against arcing over the open element based on their voltage rating (i.e. if a 250V fuse opens, it should prevent any arcing up to 250V impressed across its terminals). That being said, when a fuse (that is properly sized for the application) opens/clears, that's usually it. No smoke, no sparks, etc. If I didn't read anything further about one fuse getting hot on certain occasions, I could suspect a fuse whose voltage rating is too low (doubtful, though). The issue with one of the fuses getting hot (or warm) is an entirely different issue that really concerns me. As I said previously, fuses do not produce heat under normal circumstances.

I'd recommend shutting off the power and checking the connections/terminations that I mentioned. If you find nothing strange, for the heck of it, swap the fuses and see if you continue to see the same issue on the same side. If so, call in a pro.

Take care,
Jimmy

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Old 05-31-2008, 12:21 AM   #3
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100 Amp Fuse - issue - HELP!


just for my curiosty what is to the left of the disconnect switch because i notice that your hots from the fuse go into a pipe and looks like it comes back through that same pipe to feed the fuses. has nothing to do with your problem just curious.
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Old 05-31-2008, 01:00 AM   #4
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100 Amp Fuse - issue - HELP!


Quote:
Originally Posted by darren View Post
just for my curiosty what is to the left of the disconnect switch because i notice that your hots from the fuse go into a pipe and looks like it comes back through that same pipe to feed the fuses. has nothing to do with your problem just curious.

Possibly loos/corroed/oxidid connection. There might be bad burnt out connection at the back pf the pannel. Better to get elect and have a good look at back of the pannel.
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Old 05-31-2008, 01:07 AM   #5
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100 Amp Fuse - issue - HELP!


First, check al the connections at the lugs at the bottom of the 100A fuses.

Second, it appears that you have a 240 circuit tapped directly from the 100 amp luga in the branch circuit fuse panel. Find out where those go and correct the problem. Those look like # 10 or 12 wires and are, A) double tapped, and B) fused at 100 amps.
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Old 05-31-2008, 10:24 AM   #6
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100 Amp Fuse - issue - HELP!


Quote:
Originally Posted by darren View Post
just for my curiosty what is to the left of the disconnect switch because i notice that your hots from the fuse go into a pipe and looks like it comes back through that same pipe to feed the fuses. has nothing to do with your problem just curious.
Darren-

The OP can verify but if you look closely, it appears that the feed (black/red) enters through the top. The load-side/fused conductors are routed up and out thru the bushing at top left and the service conductors come back thru that same bushing and run horizontally to the right where they enter the fuse panel. My guess is that there is a meter to the left that we cannot see.

The wiring is pretty busy in these pics. I had to look at the FDS several times to convince myself that there wasn't a white conductor coming off the load side of the left fuse!
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Old 05-31-2008, 03:40 PM   #7
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100 Amp Fuse - issue - HELP!


I suspect that the clips that hold those fuses have lost a little of their spring tension. I always thought they make a little clip that screws onto the fuseholders to increase the tension. (can't remember what they are called)

I second what 220 said..about those little wires double tapped.
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Old 06-02-2008, 12:29 PM   #8
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100 Amp Fuse - issue - HELP!


junckcollector, Yes sir. They do make screw tight fuse holder clamps. Very handy if you have no other choice. I rarely see them in residential, but they are every where in industrial.
He needs to check ALL connections. Especially the ones in the left fuse panel. Maybe a little maintenance. I would use some Nolox on all those AL connections too.
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Old 06-02-2008, 03:46 PM   #9
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100 Amp Fuse - issue - HELP!


I didn't even know what these things were that I found in my warehouse until I heard about them on a message board. When you screw down the black pkastic part it tightens the jaws.

I doubt that this is his problem though. There would be telltale burn marks/discoloration.

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Old 06-02-2008, 05:06 PM   #10
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100 Amp Fuse - issue - HELP!


Quote:
Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post
I didn't even know what these things were that I found in my warehouse until I heard about them on a message board. When you screw down the black pkastic part it tightens the jaws.
Chris-

Just out of curiosity, are these listed for use with cartridge fuses having knife connections? A contractor on a previous job supplied them (Amp-clamps, they were called) for round-end fuses. I'd never seen them used before and when I asked why he was using them, he indicated that the fuse holders were universal and didn't provide enough pressure to keep the smaller fuses captive. After he replaced 5000 clips, I doubt he'll be using those again!

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