So if you're driving cross-country and your radio craps out, are you out of luck, or will a stick of gum save the day? If it's an issue with the fuse -- and the wrapper has metal foil -- you bet it can. And that foil on the gum wrapper isn't the only item that'll serve. A bit of aluminum foil can also do the trick, along with anything that can conduct electricity and fit wrapped around the fuse.
By putting the gum wrapper around the fuse, you're bypassing the failed safety mechanism in the blown fuse. The gum wrapper, when in contact with both ends of the wire, will allow the flow of electricity to resume and -- presto -- problem solved.
It's important to keep in mind, however, that a chewing gum wrapper is not recommended as a long-term solution. Or even a short-term one, really. You'll be better off replacing the fuse as soon as possible. The reason has to do with the purpose of a fuse, which we read about on the last page. Remember, fuses are important safety components, and it's dangerous to operate a jury-rigged system. Without the fuse in place, the electrical wiring could overheat and start a fire, causing much more damage to your wallet than a new fuse would've.
It's also worth mentioning that you shouldn't rush to ditch a fuse just because whatever's getting power from the wire it protects isn't working. Take a moment and check, because the fuse might just be loose. Securing it firmly back in place will re-establish the connection. If you've done that and it still isn't working, look at the little metal conductor inside the fuse. If there's a gap in the conductor, you'll be shopping for a new fuse. If not, you probably have some other sort of electrical problem on your hands.
So even though electrical overloads aren't that common -- how frequently do you have to change a blown fuse after all? -- we still don't recommend using a gum wrapper as a quick fix.
Find out some more fun (and safe) ways you can make use of your leftover gum wrappers by following the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- How Electricity Works
- How Relays Work
- How to Do Home Electrical Repairs
- How Wires, Fuses and Connectors Work
- How Circuit Breakers Work
- Inside "MythBusters"
- Is it possible to generate electricity directly from heat?
- What are amps, watts, volts and ohms?
- Why is it that some appliance plugs have three prongs and others have only two?
- Gum Wrapper Thermometer
More Great Links
- Duschl, Gary. "Guinness World Record Gum Wrapper Chain." 6/11/2008. (7/10/2008) http://www.gumwrapper.com/
- Fix-It Club. "How to Do Home Electrical Repairs." HowStuffWorks.com. (7/10/2008) https://home.howstuffworks.com/how-to-do-home-electrical-repairs.htm
- "Fuse." Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2008. (7/10/2008) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/222762/fuse
- Garskof, Josh. "10 Wiring Problems Solved." This Old House magazine. (7/15/2008) http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,562098,00.html
- "How to Repair a Blown Fuse in Your Car or Truck." Edmunds Car Space. 1/25/2007 (7/10/2007) http://www.carspace.com/guides/How-to-Repair-a-Blown-Fuse-in-Your-Car-or-Truck
- "How to Troubleshoot Your Electrical System." Mustang Monthly. (7/10/8) http://www.mustangmonthly.com/howto/mump_0705_troubleshoot_electrical_system /battery_charging.html
- Nice, Karim. "How Wires Fuses and Connectors Work." HowStuffWorks.com. (7/10/2008) https://auto.howstuffworks.com/wfc.htm
- Savage, Adam. "MythBusters: Fixing a Fuse with Gum." Mythbusters. (7/10/2008) https://videos.howstuffworks.com/discovery/6533-mythbusters-fixing-a-fuse-with-gum-video.htm
- Stonehouse, Ernest. "Method For Making A Wrapping Material." United States Patent. 4/4/1978. (7/10/2008) http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4082594.pdf
- "What is Amperage?" WiseGEEK.com. (7/10/2008) http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-amperage.htm
- "What is the Difference Between a Fuse and a Circuit Breaker?" WiseGEEK.com. (7/10/2008) http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-difference-between-a-fuse-and-a-circuit-breaker.htm
- "What Makes a Fuse Blow?" WiseGEEK.com. (7/10/2008) http://www.wisegeek.com/what-makes-a-fuse-blow.htm