How to replace a fuse box with circuit breakers

Updated February 21, 2017

Replacing an older fuse box with a more modern and safer breaker panel is a smart move. Breaker panels are far more efficient and have resulted in fuse panels becoming outdated and obsolete. If you decide to make the change yourself, there are several factors you must consider prior to the project, and several more to keep in mind as the project moves forward.

Always safety first

Your first consideration must be your own safety and the safety of anyone working with you. If you have no experience working with electricity, this task is better left to a professional. The first order of business will be to turn off all electrical power to the fuse box. Prior to beginning work, double check to make certain the power is indeed off. If at all possible, apply a lock to be certain the power cannot accidentally be turned back on before the appropriate time.

Disconnecting the fuse box

Once the power is turned off, you can begin the process of disconnecting the fuses. Disconnect the conduit pipe from the top of the fuse box to allow access to the wires inside. You need just enough room to pull the wires out. You should carefully mark each set of wires as you remove them from each fuse terminal. Label these wires with the size fuse they were associated with and what device or area they were servicing in your home. Complete one circuit at a time, then pull the wire through the opening in the fuse box and secure it to one side. Repeat this until all fuses are disconnected and all wires are outside of the fuse box. You may now remove the old fuse box from the wall, being certain not to damage any conduit or piping coming to the box.

Installing The new breaker box

Unless you have an unusual situation, a breaker box with slots for 40 breakers should be adequate. Carefully mount the box, being certain it is secure. You may now begin bringing your wires back into the box. Bring in one set of wires at a time. Secure the ground and neutral wires in place, then secure the hot wire to the breaker terminal. When you install the breakers you must keep in mind that for a 20 amp breaker you will need a 12-2 wire and for a 15 amp breaker you can use a 14-2 wire. As you complete each circuit, record what the circuit controls on the breaker box doorway. Once all of the wires have been secured, take a moment to double check your work. Look for loose wires, wires in the wrong place or any damaged wires. Once these checks are complete you are ready to turn the power back on.

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About the Author

Tom Raley is a freelance writer living in central Arkansas. He has been writing for more than 20 years and his short stories and articles have appeared in more than 25 different publications including P.I. Magazine, Pulsar and Writer's Digest.