Just about every landlord will deal with a loss of power in their rental at some point, and often the cause is a blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker.
If you know what you’re doing, you can fix these problems yourself quickly and easily. Here is a guide to dealing with both issues, allowing you to do a little DIY handiwork around your own property.
The Basics Behind The Problem
There can be many reasons behind a power failure.
For example, an entire city can be hit with a blackout that really has nothing to do with your own power usage. However, in most cases, an electrical problem from within your rental unit will be the cause.
Often, a blown fuse or circuit breaker that trips is the culprit, and results from too much electrical energy flowing through your wiring.
This will cause the fuse or circuit breaker to automatically shut down the power in order to avoid your electrical wiring from overheating and potentially causing a fire.
This problem often comes about due to too many appliances running at the same time, such as a toaster, hair dryer, and air conditioner, all of which can cause too much energy to flow through your wires.
Replacing a Fuse
Fuse boxes are common in older homes and apartments.
They’re usually located in a basement or garage, and located in a square box built into the wall. Inside, you’ll often find 2 to 8 fuses in place.
The fuses are round and much like a light bulb, they screw into position. If a fuse has blown in your property, first turn off all your lights and remove any electrical appliances that you think may have contributed to the blown fuse by unplugging them.
You’re dealing with electricity here, so exercise extreme caution.
Your hands should be dry and you shouldn’t be standing on any type of wet surface.
Usually, you can identify the fuse that needs replacing by looking if the metal inside the fuse has melted.
This will cause the fuse to look purple, burnt, or discolored.
Unscrew this specific fuse by turning counter-clockwise.
You now want to replace this fuse with a fuse that is basically a copy of the one you took out, with the same amperage and size of the damaged fuse.
When in doubt, just bring the broken fuse to a hardware store and ask for an exact match.
Then, simply screw the new fuse in and your electricity should be functioning again.
Fixing a Circuit Breaker
Circuit breakers are the more modern device installed in newer homes and apartments.
They basically perform the function of a fuse box, but are easier to reset and fix.
Inside a circuit breaker box, the actual circuit breakers basically look like smaller versions of a light switch.
They are usually arranged in rows that can either run vertically or horizontally.
When your breaker is tripped, the circuit switch will switch directions.
Depending on your circuit breaker’s design, it will either go up or down.
However, the key to finding which one has been turned “off” is to simply compare it to others and find the one that is switched in the other direction.
Simply reset this specific switch until it’s aligned with all the others, returning it to the “on” position.
When To Call An Electrician
If your circuit breaker keeps tripping or your fuses blowing, it’s important to move appliances around to reduce the electricity burden on one particular breaker or fuse.
Also let any specific tenant suffering from this problem to go easy on their electricity usage to reduce their chances of future problems.
However, if you keep suffering from the same problem despite making these adjustments, it might be time to call a licensed electrician, as you might have a more serious electrical issue.