Q: Our home is 50 years old and in excellent condition, except for one problem. At odd times the electricity goes off in just one part of the house, affecting the lights and the garage door opener. We've learned that if we open the fuse box and slam it shut, the lights go back on. We've had electricians here but we can never duplicate the problem so they're not sure what to do. Can you suggest a solution?

— Ruth and Bob, Syracuse, NY

A: Allen Gallant replies: I can guess how you learned that slamming the door helps; those intermittent problems are always frustrating. I suspect you have a loose or corroded connection somewhere in the panel, and if so, it will eventually get so bad that slamming the door won't solve the problem.

Figuring out exactly what's wrong will involve some detective work inside the fuse box and that isn't something a homeowner should do. But given the age of the box, and the fact that any corrosion problem you fix now is likely to crop up in another area, it probably makes more sense to replace it with an up-to-date circuit breaker panel. Just think; you'd never have to replace another fuse.

Allen Gallant is an electrical contractor who has worked on several This Old House projects.
Ask TOH users about Electrical

Contribute to This Story Below