Electrical Panel Question: Need Answer Soonish

Hello all, I encountered a small issue with my very outdated, fuse type electrical panel. I ~suspect~ some manner of mechanical defect might be causing a break in the circuit on one of my fuses, I replaced the fuse in question yielding no restoration in service. Only one of the eight fuse lines are affected.

I have a digital multimeter similar to this one, mine is an older model but same make and relative price point. My question is this, can I check for voltage running from the hot wire coming off the suspect fuse to the neutral buss without my meter going Chernobyl in my hands?

I know this entire panel needs to be replaced, I’m looking to sell the place within the next 5-10 years and this is on the list of desired improvements to make but we’ve hit furnace season in the great white north so this isn’t a job I’d prefer to do this year if possible.

I thank you all in advance for your kind attention.

Yes, you can check the voltage with your meter.
Just make sure it’s set to AC volts (NOT AMPS!).

And not ohms!

Thank you beowulf (and Chefguy), I was ~pretty~ sure that with proper settings of course, my meter could get the test done. But better safe. I wont be hitting this till the morning and will check the thread before I do but Doper’s are the best.


One common problem with those old screw-in fuses was that the center contact that that the fuse connected to was sometimes made from a bent metal tab. After years of use, the tab would get bent too far down and not make good contact with the fuse, even if it was screwed down tight.

The quick fix was to use some tool to bend that tab back up a bit, so it makes better contact. Warning! Don’t do this when the power is on – the power to the whole panel, because that center contact is live even with no fuse screwed in. Making contact between that center contact and the side contacts will make the circuit live (and generate lots of sparks, and melt off the end of your tool, possibly your fingers, etc.). [Don’t ask how I know this.]

The long term fix is, as you said, replace this whole panel with a modern circuit breaker one.

Some screw-in fuse sockets will only accept a certain amperage/type of fuse. So you would not be able to install an incorrect fuse.

Warning: Electricity is ALWAYS present in these old fuse boxes! Not a homeowner do-it-yourself thing to mess with them! (If you value your life.)

Many times you can NOT turn off main power to these! There is no “main” off switch.

With that said, I would recommend you hire an electrician for this problem. Because it is a simple problem, the cost should not be too much. And those guys have lots of life insurance!