Home Buying in Billerica>Question Details

Col, Home Buyer in Billerica, MA

What are the electric panel requirements in Massachusetts? Would a home with fuses pass inspection & be OK for an FHA Loan?

Asked by Col, Billerica, MA Thu Jun 23, 2011

Considering a home in Billerica MA built in 1971 that has a fuse box electrical panel. Would this pass inspection? Can we ask for a price credit towards the cost of updating the panel? If so, how much?

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United Inspection’s answer
A MA Home Inspector will report on the over current devices (fuses or circuit breakers) and the compatibility of the branch circuit wiring connected to the fuses/circuit breakers. MA regulations do not contain criteria for passing/failing.

An aged wiring study from UL (Underwriters Laboratories) tests the performance of aged fuses and aged circuit breakers. The fuses were more reliable than the circuit breakers. All of the aged fuses tested, performed according to criteria for a new fuse. Circuit breakers tested were not as reliable.
Based upon this information, my opinion is that fuses provide better protection against fire than circuit breakers due to an overload condition.

Further information includes tampering with fuse/fuse holder to defeat the overload protection. When a penny is placed in the fuse holder, the overload protection of the fuse is by-passed. A circuit breaker is not by-passed as easily.

Another significant difference is the risk of shock. When resetting a circuit breaker, the electrical contacts are concealed from accidental contact. Simply slide the switch back and forth. When replacing a fuse, the electrical contacts are exposed, increasing the chance for accidental contact (shock).

Contact a home insurance provider to compare policy prices on a home with fuses versus a home with circuit breakers.

Feel free to contact us if you have questions about the common safety concerns with electric panels.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 1, 2011
You should contact an electrician about this. They would be able to tell you how much of a concern this should be. I hope that you'll be able to get it figured out. It can help you a lot to get that information from a professional. I hope that you'll be able to get this resolved quickly and easily.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 1, 2015
FHA should not be an issue. Where you may run into a problem is obtaining insurance if it is only a 60 amp panel. If it is a 100 amp oanel you should be all set.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 29, 2012
FHA Financing probably won't be an issue; however, obtaining homeowners insurance might be a challenge. What is most important is that you have an excellent home inspector take a look to make sure the situation is safe.

In addition, you might want to get an estimate to upgrade the panel from a licensed electrician, so at least you'll know the potential cost.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 24, 2011
You should be fine as far as FHA financing goes. Where you may have a problem is with the insurance company if the panel is under 100 amps (fuses will probably not be a problem) Many insurance companies will ask you replace the panel with in three months of coverage or you will lose your insurance coverage.

Call the agent that willbe insuring the home and see if any issues will arise.

As far as the panel itself you could ask the seller to replace before closing or if you feel it is a deal breaker get an electrician to give you a quote on replacement so you know what you are getting into.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 24, 2011
Many insurance companies are making it harder and harder to get a standard Homeowner's Insurance for a home that is on fuses.

Either, adjust the price to reflect an upgrade to circuit breakers (have it written in the P&S) or be prepared to pay a bit of a premium for the fuses and may be even be required to prove that you'ved changed to circuit breakers within a short period of time (I've heard deadlines as short as 30 days) after close.

This seems to be a relatively recent crackdown ... I've encountered agents convinced that they could get an underwriter to cover fuses, only to come up empty or with heavy fees. Check with your insurance agent first ... no insurance binder, no loan.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 23, 2011
It will likely pass inspection as well as the FHA appraisal. You may have an issue obtaining insurance but fuses are not all that uncommon in the area.

I doubt you will be able negotiate an update to the fuse box as part of the sales price, but stranger things have happened. You may want to consider a streamline 203K loan as a way upgrade the electric service as part of your purchase.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 23, 2011
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