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Originally posted by AHI in AR

. . . First of all, and just to be clear, as installed locally the fuseholder is at the end of a circuit. Nothing that is 120V is fed off of it except the transformer. The neutral goes straight thru to the transformer and the hot lead is fused via the porcelain base. Very simple. Functionally, it's a low amperage inline fuseholder in a porcelain base. It draws way less current than a lightbulb. Obviously, you won't see anything happen if you stick a bulb in the base.

So how else do you propose to protect the wiring from the transformer to the doorbell chime itself without this or something similar?

The wiring on the secondary side of a doorbell transformer needs no further protection. The transformer limits the voltage to 16 volts or so and it has a fuse built into the windings. The doorbell is the only thing drawing current through these wires and it doesn't pull enough current to be a threat. If something weird were to happen that imposed such a load, the fuse in the transformer would blow.

A 3-amp fuse on the primarly side of the transformer probably wouldn't help in such a case anyway. If you wanted to add extra protection for the low-voltage wiring, you'd put it directly on the secondary side.

. . . So let's assume that something occurs causing that wire to be hit with something well over 24V, or that a minor short occurs in the electromagnet in the chime itself. What would happen if it didn't have the 3A fuse?

The transformer's integral fuse would blow almost instantly, clearing the fault.

Obviously, burnt wiring is a possibility...a fire is another one. Maybe fusing this wire is not regularly done where you are, but does that make fusing it wrong? If so, I can't figure out why.

No one's saying that the concept of fusing it is wrong (they might be saying it's unnecessary). I think that the general consensus is that the method of fusing it is wrong. There are several styles of fuses and fuse holders out there that will allow you to properly fuse either the primary or secondary side of this circuit if you wanted to do so.

Note that the transformer itself draws a tiny amount of current, and only has a 3A fuse. You're certainly not exceeding the capacity of the porcelain base with that.

I'm sure that's true. However, they are miswiring the light fixture, breaking at least three NEC rules in the process.

Sure, you can stick the transformer to the outside of the breaker panel housing, but, again, I ask how the smaller gauge wiring is protected from an overcurrent situation downstream of the transformer that WOULD NOT TRIP a 15 or 20 amp breaker.

That wiring isn't in danger (as explained above). A 3-amp fuse on the primary side provides little extra protection anyway. If you really want to protect that wire extra well, put a fuse on the secondary side.

. . . So if you are going to fuse the low voltage wire, just how is a porcelain base inferior to a plastic-bodied inline fuse holder?

It isn't designed, tested and approved for the purpose.

It's part of an improvisation.

It will accept a 20-amp, 120v fuse, so it's value only lasts as long as the fuse itself.

It's prone to abuse by someone who might (very reasonably) assume that it's supposed to be a light fixture.

The bottom line question I ask is simply "What can this hurt?"

You may not see it as necessary, but what does it harm?

Electrical safety is largely a matter of convention. Everyone agrees that certain things are used certain ways and as long as those conventions are intact, everything works just fine. What you've got here is an example of a local convention that contradicts a national convention. Everyone in your area uses these materials in this way and, as long as they all understand the convention, it works fine. The potential for a problem comes when someone who doesn't understand the local convention confronts it. I really don't see much risk here, aside from some frustrated homeowner trying to get his porcelain light fixture to work. He might get himself into a real mess by the end of the day because he doesn't understand your odd local convention.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Ok...

Maybe I'm wrong. I admit I've never dissected a transformer, so I've never known that they had any sort of internal fuse. I've also not looked inside the chime housing in so long I don't recall a fuse mounted there either.

So it seems that we have a totally superfluous fuse. But if it's replaced with a larger fuse by the homeowner, no real harm will come of it. And if it's replaced with a light bulb, no real harm exists either. The worst thing that will happen is you get a frustrated resident when his light won't work.

But I'm still hard pressed to believe that this is totally unique to the local area. (And one home in Illinois.)

No one has ever seen it anywhere else?

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Originally posted by AHI in AR

Ok...

Maybe I'm wrong. I admit I've never dissected a transformer, so I've never known that they had any sort of internal fuse. I've also not looked inside the chime housing in so long I don't recall a fuse mounted there either.

There's certainly no fuse in the chime. The transformer has a fusible link built in. When it blows, the transformer is toast and has to be replaced.

So it seems that we have a totally superfluous fuse. But if it's replaced with a larger fuse by the homeowner, no real harm will come of it. And if it's replaced with a light bulb, no real harm exists either. The worst thing that will happen is you get a frustrated resident when his light won't work.

Yes. I agree. Though perhaps the fuse isn't totally superfluous. It might just protect the transformer. It's hard to say which would go first but I suspect a fuse on the low-voltage side would be more useful.

But I'm still hard pressed to believe that this is totally unique to the local area. (And one home in Illinois.)

No one has ever seen it anywhere else?

I'd be very interested to know that as well. In my own experience, I've never seen that set up in Connecticut, New York, Massachussets, Vermont, DC, Berkeley, or anywhere in Oregon. I'd love to hear from others, particularly the southern states near Arkansas.

- Jim in Oregon

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Kevin,

First, you need to understand that I'm not the sharpest tack stuck in the bulletin board and, as such, electricity is a pretty mysterious and scary thing to me; so, to me, it really doesn't matter that the practice is harmless - it they're using a device in violation of its listing and labeling it is simply wrong.

Now, an inspection never goes by when I don't see something that's commonly done by trades that's wrong; it's a good thing too, because that's what keeps us working. However, whether or not I decide to write those things up hinges on whether, as Jim pointed out, it defies accepted rules or convention or is a violation of the listing and labeling on a product. For those kinds of issues, the listing and labeling rule makes our job very easy; if it's not listed and labeled to be used in that manner it is wrong and we write it up. It might seem like we are being heavy handed by doing that but when we do we have the backing of the entire inspection community; and, in the case of electricity, most of the electrical community.

It's a little harder for stuff that's not ruled by a listing and labeling rule; in those cases one has to determine whether it defies accepted convention. For instance, if you were to go into a crawlspace in your region and find a house flooring platform that's framed with plank and beam framing, and you weren't familiar with it, your initial reaction might be to call it out as wrong. You'd talk to the builder and the builder would say that it's a perfectly normal way of framing a house. If you didn't believe the builder, because you'd never seen it before, you might come on here and ask the brethren about it. At that point, some folks would probably say that it was whacked and the builder had his head tucked up his bottom, but Jim or myself would tell you that it's a perfectly acceptable way of framing a home that, though it isn't as common as box-sill construction, is a conventional method used around here. You might argue that still didn't make it okay because it wasn't done that way in other parts of the country and demand to see proof that we weren't trippin' on some BC bud or something worse. At that point we'd show you proof in the way of references published by a credible source. Once you saw that proof, you'd be satisfied that the framing method used in that home was acceptable though you'd be a little uneasy about declaring it okay because you weren't familiar with it. You'd then inform your client of that fact. From then on, if some inspector at some future point tries to tell your client that the home is framed wrong because of the plank and beam framing, your client, and you, are on solid ground and your credibility is intact. On the other hand, the other inspector's credibility won't be.

Bottom line, unless we can prove that "it" is accepted convention, if we just say to ourselves, "Ah, I don't see what it can hurt, everyone around here does it that way," we call into question our own credibility. You have to keep in mind who we are working for. There's a difference between saying to an electrician, "Yeah, I realize it probably won't harm anything but that isn't the issue; the issue is that according to the NEC that's not supposed to be done because it violates the listing and labeling of that luminaire - can you show me anything, even a paragraph, that says that it's okay to wire that thing up like that?" and trying to explain to a customer who'd paid you several hundred dollars a few years before why he's now faced with a buyer demanding $500 off the price of a house because his inspector called out a luminaire being used as a fuse holder in violation of it's listing and labeling. The electrician will know and understand that, locally accepted practice or not, he's wrong; the homeowner will know only one thing - that his home inspector screwed him over by not calling out a very simple black and white issue that would have taken five minutes and cost almost nothing to correct.

Need I point out that this is exactly the kind of stuff that gets inspectorlore started?

'nuff said, I'll go back to my cave now and wait to pounce on some other unsuspecting inspector.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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History, I've been reading this forum for quite some time and it has enlightened me on several occasions. However, I felt the need to "chime-in" on this doorbell issue. I'm a licensed electrician, in Arkansas BTW, and teach an electrical systems apprentice course. So I feel qualified to input my opinion on this matter, maybe it will help.

Took a few minutes to look up "why" this is wrong. So let's begin. First, that keyless lampholder (note lampholder not fuseholder) is NOT listed (see UL Whitebook) as a fuseholder. The two applications are way different. This I promise. Second (going with the 2005 NEC as my 2008 is at work), Art 250.51(B) Edison base fuses are for replacement only. That means, not for new construction. Third, Art. 240.30(A) talks about physical protection with fuses in an enclosure. and 240.41 discussed their location. Fourth, Art. 240.52 means Edison base fuseholder must be able to accept Type S plug fuses; not to mention that Art. 725 has a plethora of information regarding low voltage installations that would be beneficial with this situation. Bottom line is that this setup is wrong albeit that's the way it's been done for 30 years. Electricians probably shouldn't be installing 1920's era overcurrent protection anyway and NEC prevents that with plug fuses. I would have it repaired as it's looks like a crummy install anyway.

Hang the bell transformer off to the side of the box via a knockout, the 120V lines inside the box with a cover, the low voltage lines (usually 16V) stay outside. The branch circuit overcurrent protection will more than suffice for the protection of the conductors during faults as long as the circuit has the necessary equipment grounding.

One other note of interest, if every little piece of electrical equipment needed protection at such a level, based on the equipment's wire size, then every single light fixture (luminaries) in your house should have little fuses placed in them. There is an article discussing the overcurrent protection for small fixture wires as well.

There ya have it. Hope this helps.

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Kevin:

You know, it's funny. I see a lot of posts on this forum (and others) where members lurk around without offering an opinion. They seem to be afraid to voice a dissenting opinion for fear of rocking the boat by challenging the powers that be, or perhaps demonstrating their ignorance.

Thanks for rocking the boat. You'll never know it, but it'll help a lot of the lurkers learn something they didn't know and were afraid to ask for one reason or another. Too bad more didn't do it. These are the kind of discussion we all learn from for FREE!

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Originally posted by Erby

Kevin:

You know, it's funny. I see a lot of posts on this forum (and others) where members lurk around without offering an opinion. They seem to be afraid to voice a dissenting opinion for fear of rocking the boat by challenging the powers that be, or perhaps demonstrating their ignorance.
Thanks for rocking the boat. You'll never know it, but it'll help a lot of the lurkers learn something they didn't know and were afraid to ask for one reason or another. Too bad more didn't do it. These are the kind of discussion we all learn from for FREE!
Hi Erby,

While I agree that this type of discussion is great, I'm not sure I understand the "powers that be" comment. There are no powers that be on this board. This isn't an association and as long as he keeps it civil nobody is going to kick Kevin out of here or edit what he's said for speaking his mind on a technical topic .

Yeah, there are some regulars here that have very strong opinions; but, so what - home inspectors as a demographic are all supposed to have very strong opinions otherwise we wouldn't be very good at what we do. Would we? Kevin stood his ground and we all respect the fact that he did so even if some of us didn't agree with him.

Frankly, I don't understand why anyone would simply lurk and not post on this board. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been proven wrong on this site and others - it still doesn't prevent me from asking more questions and learning from the answers. Besides, folks can register here under any user name they wish, check off in their profile that they don't want to receive messages or emails from anyone and remain completely anonymous. Then, using their anonymous identity, they can ask the dumbest questions on the planet and there's no way that anyone here is going to find out who they are 'cuz we don't reveal our users' identities to anyone (not without a court order, anyway). Well, let me correct that; there were a couple of times when certain folks came over here under false identifies trolling with an obvious attempt to denigrate certain persons or TIJ. I outed them to make them go away. I have to confess that it felt good at the time. I kind of figured that if they couldn't respect our rules I wasn't under any obligation to help them remain anonymous. I guess I should have been flogged for doing that.

I see these comments about lurkers and the "powers that be" on every board. All I can say is that this board is a heck of a lot friendlier, and people are more civil and respectful to one another here, than I've ever found the soap opera, IN or the ASHI boards to be. Of course, I have to confess that I might be just a tad prejudiced in favor of TIJ.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Hi Erby,

While I agree that this type of discussion is great, I'm not sure I understand the "powers that be" comment. There are no powers that be on this board.

Mike

Mike, I seem to recall many instances where you have edited/modified a post by another user, well, because you can.

I know it's your rules and all, but nonetheless, I'd say that action places you in the "powers that be" catagory. It's not right or wrong, it just "is".

You work hard to bring many resources to the users here on this board, and that's great. But some folks just don't like to bump heads with others, so they read more than they post.

Dom.

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Originally posted by hausdok

Originally posted by Erby

Kevin:

You know, it's funny. I see a lot of posts on this forum (and others) where members lurk around without offering an opinion. They seem to be afraid to voice a dissenting opinion for fear of rocking the boat by challenging the powers that be, or perhaps demonstrating their ignorance.
Thanks for rocking the boat. You'll never know it, but it'll help a lot of the lurkers learn something they didn't know and were afraid to ask for one reason or another. Too bad more didn't do it. These are the kind of discussion we all learn from for FREE!
Hi Erby,

While I agree that this type of discussion is great, I'm not sure I understand the "powers that be" comment. There are no powers that be on this board. This isn't an association and as long as he keeps it civil nobody is going to kick Kevin out of here or edit what he's said for speaking his mind on a technical topic .

Yeah, there are some regulars here that have very strong opinions; but, so what - home inspectors as a demographic are all supposed to have very strong opinions otherwise we wouldn't be very good at what we do. Would we? Kevin stood his ground and we all respect the fact that he did so even if some of us didn't agree with him.

Frankly, I don't understand why anyone would simply lurk and not post on this board. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been proven wrong on this site and others - it still doesn't prevent me from asking more questions and learning from the answers. Besides, folks can register here under any user name they wish, check off in their profile that they don't want to receive messages or emails from anyone and remain completely anonymous. Then, using their anonymous identity, they can ask the dumbest questions on the planet and there's no way that anyone here is going to find out who they are 'cuz we don't reveal our users' identities to anyone (not without a court order, anyway). Well, let me correct that; there were a couple of times when certain folks came over here under false identifies trolling with an obvious attempt to denigrate certain persons or TIJ. I outed them to make them go away. I have to confess that it felt good at the time. I kind of figured that if they couldn't respect our rules I wasn't under any obligation to help them remain anonymous. I guess I should have been flogged for doing that.

I see these comments about lurkers and the "powers that be" on every board. All I can say is that this board is a heck of a lot friendlier, and people are more civil and respectful to one another here, than I've ever found the soap opera, IN or the ASHI boards to be. Of course, I have to confess that I might be just a tad prejudiced in favor of TIJ.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

I hate it, but I have to agree with you, Mike. I recently looked at a shake roof and was reminded of this thread:

https://www.inspectorsjournal.com/forum ... IC_ID=6015

I posted photos and Chad, you, Eric and Kyle all said the roof was shot. But then Randy checked in and said, "Well, but wait. Not so fast. The roof isn't that bad."

Kurt agreed with Randy. Jim K. mostly agreed with Kurt and Randy, and also took the time to explain what I should be looking for when checking out shake roofs.

For me, it was exceedingly instructive. More important (-ly? I never know about that one.), even though the opinions were diametrically opposed, no one became rude, contentious, or emotional.

That's what's groovy about this place to me.

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To begin with, let me categorically state that I accept that the fusing practice is wrong, so this is not an attempt to continue any debate.

I'm only half kidding when I say that the real problem is that now there's yet another issue for me to write up on virtually every job. I really didn't want to see that since it will undoubtedly waste more of my time when I get the angry phone calls from the electricians. And then there's the code enforcement guys you occasionally run into on new home inspections. Unbelievably enough, some of these guys seem to have an attitude regarding we private guns who oversee their work. [;)]

On a more important note, I had another conversation with the electrician today. He reiterated that it had been required around here since before he was even an apprentice -- and he started in 1977. Before that he remembered seeing them as a kid helping out on the jobsites in the summer. That's the thing that threw me. I can't wrap my head around the idea that all the various local AHJ's during 40 years or so would not merely allow it, but indeed require it. It's important to understand that this wasn't an idea the electricians dreamed up; they were made to do it. Sure, you'll get a goofball code officer every now and then with his own ideas and interpretations. But 40 years' worth? I have no idea how many enforcement guys that would amount to who have been out in the field, but it's got to be a lot. Even the chief inspector count would likely be 3 or more during that time. How does something like this continue under those conditions? To make the issue weirder, the electrician related how one of the more recent field code officers had told him that there were talks regarding amending the requirement to mandate type-s fuses. The status of that idea is not known as that electrical inspector left the department and is now teaching continuing ed classes for electricians.

And now, just for your entertainment, here's a pic from this afternoon's inspection of a 9 year old home. Enjoy.

Image Insert:

2008121621569_HPIM9798.jpg

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Originally posted by Home Pride

Hi Erby,

While I agree that this type of discussion is great, I'm not sure I understand the "powers that be" comment. There are no powers that be on this board.

Mike

Mike, I seem to recall many instances where you have edited/modified a post by another user, well, because you can.

I know it's your rules and all, but nonetheless, I'd say that action places you in the "powers that be" catagory. It's not right or wrong, it just "is".

You work hard to bring many resources to the users here on this board, and that's great. But some folks just don't like to bump heads with others, so they read more than they post.

Dom.

Yep, I've edited non-technical posts that I felt broke the rules. Kevin's post made it sound like, at least to me, that there's some kind of cabal here that's trying to control everyone and I just don't see that as being the case.

Break the rules; by 1) trying to advertise here when you're not a sponsor and don't have permission to advertise here and you'll get your post edited. 2.) Continue down a very contentious line of pointless and endless debate about who's inspection org is bigger than another's, despite being warned to knock it off and play nice, and you'll get your post edited. 3.) Be downright rude to someone or start calling names and your post might be edited. 4.)Come on here for the sole purpose of starting trouble and your post might be edited or deleted.

Again, I don't get it. Bump heads with others? What bump heads? I work hard to ensure that people who come in here aren't contentious. Heck, there have been instances when someone has come in here for no other reason than to mix it up with someone, or times when someone can't seem to accept that someone else has a right to have a different opinion than they do. Instead of simply stating that, they just become Peckish and pedantically go on and on and on and on until I've had enough, at which point I'm not shy about truncating a post where both sides get said what they want to say without constant repetition that sounds to me more like, "Oh yeah?""Yeah.""Oh yeah?""Yeah.""Oh yeah?""Yeah." and on and on and on. Folks that come in here with that kind of attitude can look forward to having their stuff edited. However, anyone that follows the rules and keeps it professional won't.

There is no reason for anyone to lurk and be afraid to ask technical questions here 'cuz the powers that be is only one person and he's not as smart as many other persons who post here. He usually doesn't have any reason to edit any technical posts.

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Again, I don't get it. Bump heads with others?

Not necessarily on this forum. But certainly elsewhere. I admit that I have been jaded by other posters in various forums over the years, and will carry that negativity around without thinking about it.

Instead of simply stating that, they just become Peckish and pedantically go on and on and on and on...

That's priceless, especially to anyone (like me) that's tried to carry on a conversation with him.

Dom.

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I agree that "Peckish" is priceless. Laughed my ass off on that one.

The important part is that we discuss and disagree and learn.

There will always be those who lurk and learn. Who knows why. I don't pretend to.

But I'm sure they are learning. That's the most important part.

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Originally posted by AHI in AR

. . . I'm only half kidding when I say that the real problem is that now there's yet another issue for me to write up on virtually every job. I really didn't want to see that since it will undoubtedly waste more of my time when I get the angry phone calls from the electricians. And then there's the code enforcement guys you occasionally run into on new home inspections. Unbelievably enough, some of these guys seem to have an attitude regarding we private guns who oversee their work. [;)]

Is there any reason why you have to report it as something that needs to be fixed? Would there be a problem if you explained that the fuse-in-the-light-socket installation doesn't comply with the National Electrical Code but that it's the immemorial custom of electricians in your area to do it this way and that, as long as someone doesn't mess with it, it's unlikely to cause any harm? Point out that the homeowner shouldn't put a light bulb there and shoudn't use anything larger than a 3 amp fuse -- maybe even suggest that they label the base in that manner.

While I think that the installation is incorrect, I think it's goofy-incorrect, not dangerous-incorrect. I also think that it's important to choose my battles wisely. I wouldn't choose this one.

On a more important note, I had another conversation with the electrician today. He reiterated that it had been required around here since before he was even an apprentice -- and he started in 1977. Before that he remembered seeing them as a kid helping out on the jobsites in the summer. That's the thing that threw me. I can't wrap my head around the idea that all the various local AHJ's during 40 years or so would not merely allow it, but indeed require it. It's important to understand that this wasn't an idea the electricians dreamed up; they were made to do it. Sure, you'll get a goofball code officer every now and then with his own ideas and interpretations. But 40 years' worth? I have no idea how many enforcement guys that would amount to who have been out in the field, but it's got to be a lot. Even the chief inspector count would likely be 3 or more during that time. How does something like this continue under those conditions?

I don't know. However I have no trouble believing that it started with a single individual or a small group of people and spread from there. After all, on the surface it seems like a reasonable, benign precaution. Time, custom, and the oral tradition are powerful forces. Look at the folklore that runs rampant among home inspectors.

To make the issue weirder, the electrician related how one of the more recent field code officers had told him that there were talks regarding amending the requirement to mandate type-s fuses. The status of that idea is not known as that electrical inspector left the department and is now teaching continuing ed classes for electricians.

The cynic in me suggests that he was embellishing on the myth. But who really knows?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Jim-

The electrician is a very down-to-earth guy. I can't see it as being in his nature to embellish the story and I've known him about 20 years.

As for writing it up, I have absolutely no intentions of making a big deal of it. It will be mentioned, but described in such a manner that most people will leave it alone. But there's always that small percentage of obsessive clients who demand that everything be corrected no matter how trivial. More significantly, there are those less ethical ones who rewrite my report and amplify things in the process to aid in their attempts to squeeze out more repair money from the seller. Though small in number, they cause me the most problems.

And now for you, Mike--

Be careful using words like "peckish" since some folks might believe you are "jerry-rigging" your wording to make a point...

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Originally posted by AHI in AR

Jim-

The electrician is a very down-to-earth guy. I can't see it as being in his nature to embellish the story and I've known him about 20 years.

I was referring to the field code officer, not the electrician.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by AHI in AR

And now for you, Mike--

Be careful using words like "peckish" since some folks might believe you are "jerry-rigging" your wording to make a point...

Cute,

You'll notice that I capitalized it; however, the real meaning of peckish - to become angry or irritated - would have worked for that sentence too. Most folks on HI boards understand the term Peckish more easily than they understand the word pedantic.

Anyway, enough of this Jerrymeandering, I've got stuff to do.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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  • 11 years later...

It's hilarious damn near every house I've been in in the past 20 years that is older than 2000 ish  has a socket fuse generally in the garage I've been a contractor for 25 years do some research and you'll see what they're for and why they are there good luck ....😄

Edited by Ras2049
Because
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15 hours ago, Ras2049 said:

It's hilarious damn near every house I've been in in the past 20 years that is older than 2000 ish  has a socket fuse generally in the garage I've been a contractor for 25 years do some research and you'll see what they're for and why they are there good luck ....😄

I'm not sure why it's funny (if you've actually read this thread). Why don't you just tell us? 

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