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cj chitwood 12-28-2011 01:25 PM

Trying to avoid unnecessary costs
 
Hello, all...

I'm a little wordy, so I'll ask my question up front for the TL;DNR group:

I have a module in my home circuit panel that has a pair of 100 Amp cartridge fuses -- one on each of two legs. Can this module be replaced with a module that has main breakers instead?

Link to my photos of my electrical panel (and for good measure, the ONE solitary aluminum circuit I have).


Backstory:
It's come that time. My home is just turned 51 years old this year and the insurance companies found out. Since I had polybutylene plumbing (I have replaced it) and I have original electrical (AFAIK it is) they have decided that my home is a risk and are going to charge me an absolute premium that I cannot afford ($1800 to $2400 a year).

I can also not afford to bring everything into 100% up-to-date-as-though-the-house-was-built-yesterday state like the insco wants.

I've asked about, and from what I'm finding, the one thing the insurance companies are just all up at arms about is oh my good Lord there's a fuse block in my breaker panel.

It's an old Walker panel, with a 200 amp pair of cartridge fuses for the main and the rest of the panel is all breakers. But, they don't care that all the individual circuits are breakers, nor that the panel itself is from 1960. None of that matters. All that matters to them -- from what I've gotten out of representatives -- is that I still have fuses. Once I convert to 100% breakers and 0% fuses they will grant me lower rates.

So can I avoid the cost and hassle of replacing the entire panel -- 90% of which is breakers -- and replace just the main fuses with a breaker set?

Many Thanks in Advance!

Jim Port 12-28-2011 01:35 PM

I doubt that anyone is going to make a listed breaker adapter for an obsolete panel.

The insurance companies need to learn that there is nothing inherantly wrong with fuses when properly sized. Heck an oversized breaker could be installed in a panel and cause issues.

I hope you don't have car insurance with the same company. They might want air bags in a 73 Pinto.

fuzzball03 12-28-2011 01:42 PM

Unless the panel was originally listed to accept a main breaker, or there is a listed&approved conversion main breaker, then I believe you will have to replace the main panel.

You *might* be able to install a "main breaker" panel as your service equipment, and feed your current panel from that.
I havent read up much on doing this, but it sounds like it might be possible.

I'm sure the seasoned and experienced electricians will have some ideas for you.

joed 12-28-2011 01:47 PM

You are going to need to change the panel to meet their requirements.
In the mean time I would start calling other insurance companies. That charge is a crock. There is a big difference between main disconnect fuses and branch circuit fuses.

cj chitwood 12-28-2011 03:01 PM

WOW! Rapid response... And from several folks! Thanks!

Yes, it seems silly to me that there wouldn't be some kind of an option. I was hoping electrical boxes if nothing else had a kind of standard form factor like PC cases, where they're still viable through several generations and newer equipment is made to fit the same form. Apparently not.

I like the idea that I might be able to simply add a mains breaker box separate from the current one, but then I'd still have to find a way to get rid of the fuses (assuming that's what their problem is with). Then again, had I not told them in the first place... I don't think it ever got inspected by any of the inscos. I may have screwed myself simply by telling them in the first place.

I suspect that the insurance reps I've spoken to (independent agents that "shop around for you") aren't able to customize quotes like a national agent would do. I've had a couple now tell me that they basically plug things into a computer (like a web page) and they get radio buttons for "fuses" and "breakers". There's no inbetween like what I have.

Speaking with the two independents (I realize I need to shop more), they both said that there was basically only one or two companies that would even insure the house. The big kicker though was the fuses, plumbing, and they weren't too fond of my roof (although it's aging, it's not dead yet, and they're still looking at it as "you'd get a discount if it were new" instead of "you're getting charged more because it's so old").

I guess what I need to do is nix the middle man and call the companies direct. Maybe they can do something for me the indeps can't. Otherwise, why would they be there? We have car insurance through a State Farm agent here in town, and we were thinking of asking him about it. We went with the indeps so we could get the lowest rate possible, but maybe S.F. would be in this case.

Still, if anyone knows of an "adapter" (maybe that's the word I should have Googled) I'd be all ears to hear about it.


Thanks again!

CJ

Billy_Bob 12-28-2011 05:01 PM

As a general rule, all home improvement projects on old homes will cost much more than you can possibly imagine! :(

For example I tear out a wall and find dry rot on the bottom board which needs to be fixed, then go to the crawlspace and see I need to dig that out to get to that area, then when I get to that area, I see a supporting beam also needs replacing.... Arrgggg!

clashley 12-28-2011 06:07 PM

Looks like that 2-pole breaker in the upper left is double-tapped on both poles... that's no good.

dmxtothemax 12-28-2011 07:07 PM

Why cant you remove the fuses from the panel,
and put a breaker in its place ?
If code doesnt allow it ?
Then consider a seperate smaller panel
for just the main breaker.
If code allows.
This is were you would need an electricain !
The cost would quickely be recouped,
when you compare it to the new cost of insurance.

joed 12-28-2011 07:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dmxtothemax (Post 805849)
Why cant you remove the fuses from the panel,
and put a breaker in its place ?

Because the panel manufacture doesn't likely make a breaker for the panel. Panels/breakers are not standard like light bulbs. You must buy the breaker made for your panel and that brand of panel is not one of the more common ones still used today.
Quote:

If code doesnt allow it ?
Code requies only breaker made for and listed for use in your panel be used.
Quote:

Then consider a seperate smaller panel
for just the main breaker.
If code allows.
This is were you would need an electricain !
The cost would quickely be recouped,
when you compare it to the new cost of insurance.
A separate disconnect could certainly be installed. Then the fuses could be replaced with solid slugs since they are not needed any longer. The new breaker is doing the job. They even make meter bases with breakers in them, so replacing only meter base may be an option but it could be just as cheap to change the panel. Get estimates for all your options then decide.


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