How electricity works in your home
You’ve just flown the nest and landed in a house or apartment by yourself. Standing in the lounge in a sea of boxes, you feel as if you know nothing about looking after yourself in a house. What should you know? What do you HAVE to know?
It is so easy to turn on a switch and automatically expect a result. But when turning on a switch doesn’t have the desired effect, or in the case of a civil emergency, it is good to know the location of certain practical features in your home.
Start with the fusebox or circuit-breaker panel. It is usually high on a wall inside the house, often in a
hallway. It’ll either be a protruding box on the wall or, in modern houses, a small, flat, metal door flush with the wall. This contains fuses or circuit-breakers and the mains switch, which controls the flow of electricity to
the stove, lights and power sockets. It is here, at the mains switch, that you can turn off the power to all appliances if necessary. The other switches in the box are fuses or circuit-breakers — automatic safety devices that cut the electricity off in individual wires in the house if they’re overloaded or short-circuited. So, if any of your power devices suddenly turn off for seemingly no reason, it could be that a circuit-breaker has played its role. (See 'A few lights go out' ).
If the fuses in the box are old ceramic ones, consider spending your next tax rebate or the next available money on getting an electrician to replace it with a circuit-breaker system, which is much safer and more reliable.
Do you and all your household members know how to turn
off the electricity supply to the house if necessary?
At the power meter there is a switch that turns off all power entering the house. It is essential to know where the meter is. It is usually in a box or behind a metal plate (with a window) on the outside of the building, in a place accessible to the power company for taking readings. The meter records the amount of electricity used as it enters the building. If you want to, you can keep an eye on the meter to monitor the way you’re being billed for the electricity you use.
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