How do I know if my consumer unit needs replacing?

Is a fuse box the same as a consumer unit -yes they are the same. Otherwise known as the fuse box, a consumer unit is a critical part of your electrical system. You want your building to receive a constant and uninterrupted supply of power, it’s crucial that your consumer unit – or fuse box, is in good working order. Additionally, you want to make sure your consumer unit is supplying the appropriate amount of power for your needs. However, as with all electrical components, a fuse box can develop faults.

Any building which contains electrical wiring will also contain a consumer unit. Housed within an electrical panel, a consumer unit is made up of a variety of fuses or circuit breakers. In essence, it’s the heart of your building’s electrical system, and is used to distribute electricity around the building. Understanding where the consumer unit is located is essential as it allows you to turn the electricity off in an emergency.

Fuse Boxes Explained (Consumer Units)

  • Circuit breakers: similar to a fuse, circuit breakers will automatically turn the circuit off once an electrical fault is detected. Once a circuit breaker has been activated, the electrical supply can be re-installed by resetting the trip switch. 
  • Main switch: if you need to turn your building’s electricity off in an emergency, the main switch will be located in the consumer unit and will instantly cut the electricity supply.

Common Consumer Unit Problems

One of the most commonly asked questions with consumer unit maintenance is “How do you know if your consumer unit is bad?”, and it’s important that you understand the answers to this. The most common fuse box problems, and how to fix a tripped fuse, are:

  • Bad wiring: depending on the age of your building, your consumer unit and its associated wiring could easily go back to the 1960s. As a result, it’s likely that poor wiring has made its way into the system at some point. And, with poor wiring installations in place, your fuse box is going to experience significant problems such as faulty electricity supplies which overload the circuit.


  • Too much demand: the amount of power which a consumer unit can handle is limited, and if it becomes overloaded with electrical demand it won’t be able to cope. For example, the installation of an extension socket can quickly overload a circuit and blow the entire circuit. Removing the number of appliances from a circuit will quickly restore normality in these instances.


  • Faulty electrical devices: one of the most common consumer unit problems is when a faulty device is connected to the circuit. If a faulty device is present, then the electrical fault with it is likely to continually trip your circuit. To identify a faulty appliance, you need to unplug everything and gradually plug them in one by one to identify which one trips the circuit.

If you feel your fuse box or consumer unit is faulty and needs to be replaced then please give us a call, we’ll be happy to advise you and arrange an inspection.

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