Federal Pacific panels

I inspected this panel a couple of weeks ago guess who owned the home :wink: a licensed electrican and no I did not recommend replacement or evaluation I evaluated it myself and called for repairs as needed.

I also evaluated the roof, the A/C/furnace/duct/appliances and the foundation/structural. The foundaion had excessive settling I called for a foundation repair company and 4 piers are to be installed next Tuesday.

I have a client for life and all their referrals

Correct. That’s it’s intention. Another way of saying a specific brand/type is not a defect in itself.

Most of the wording in the paragraph concerning FPE that I included in report was previously shared on this message board by another very qualified home inspector.

Yes that’s a wonderful example of our government saying nothing much with many words. I read through the original of that years ago and it still leaves me feeling as though the question is unanswered. “we don’t have the money to find out if the breakers are unsafe” is the summary, which is quite astounding considering lack of money has never stopped the Fed before. :slight_smile:

Are you of the opinion that the four reports(referenced in post #2) that I have based my review of these panels upon for years are bogus, as Pope is alluding to?

I don’t think there is much disagreement about just recommending review by an electrician(though some automatically recommend replacement), but it does sound a bit like you and Pope and perhaps others don’t believe these panels have any significant concerns over any other panel. The issues documented aren’t really ones which lend themselves to discovery during a visual inspection, so suggesting a review based on the brand alone seems reasonable if the studies are to be trusted.

This is an interesting read. From page 9 and on.

And it’s fairly damning.


This is simply a document recording a meeting where specific issues were discussed (meeting minutes).

The portion of the document referring to FPE is an attempt to get the CSPC to change its position regarding FPE components;

[size=1]The CPSC FPE press release, however, contains the following statements, which (often quoted out of context) imply that there is no hazard associated with FPE breakers when they fail to trip properly:[/size]
[size=1]" … [FONT=Times New Roman,Times]the data currently available to the Commission does not establish that the circuit breakers present a serious risk of injury to consumers. [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times]the Commission is unable at this time [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times]to [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times]link these failures to the development of a hazardous situation… failures of these FPE breakers to comply with certain UL calibration requirements do not create a hazard in the household environment… FPE breakers will trip reliably at most overload levels [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times]where FPE breakers may fail to trip under realistic use conditions. currents will be too low to generate hazardous temperatures in household wiring. [/FONT]… "[/size]

The CSPC has not changed their position, even after this engineering review.

Yes, and the data presented to the CPSC is what matters. It’s a very good summary of all the independent and government testing which has been performed on more than 500 sample breakers(single and double pole) and even the failure rates of testing performed on replacement breakers from multiple companies. It also discusses the failure of FPE to meet UL standards and the subsequent fraud they engaged in by labeling their product with the UL anyway.

What does it take for an FPE panel to be considered hazardous? Only if the CPSC officially says so? (their testing already says so) What level of evidence is enough?

I’ve reinserted the missing parts to that quote. I don’t know if you caught the point of that quote which was to show how the CPSC press release is misquoted in order to make it seem that the CPSC is saying FPE breakers are safe. They were not saying that at all, the parent company of FPE, Reliance, was saying that.

What the CPSC said was that a bunch of idiots has jumped on a product and they can’t find the same results as those idiots have found and the company can’t either.
The CPSC has done a lot of testing on this product but those idiots wants the CPSC to spend their entire $34 million to test them until they find just one so they can keep up their bashing of the product and the CPSC says that it isn’t going to spend all their money on something that has already stood up to the testing they have done.

I am saying that 90% of any information from that site is bogus and as I have already pointed out some to the pictures they have has been proven to be doctored.

All the breakers and panels of that time era are made to the same standard therefore any breaker of that time era will have the same problems.

How is one to trust a finding if that finding is proven to be wrong? How can one trust a finding when there is evidence that some of the information included in that finding has been staged for the theatrical effects? Both of these statements have been brought forth in the discussion from that site by those who the testing of the products has been charged. Do the research and find out what others have to say instead of just listening to one.

When I do the research on that site I can’t help but think about my friend who was told he had a brain tumor after visiting the hospital for a bad headache. After leaving the hospital he made an appointment with his dentist for a second opinion. The dentist told him that his teeth looked good so his head should stop hurting. What that site lacks is the findings from someone that has the knowledge to do electrical forensic investigations.
What they use to back their findings is comments from licensed home inspectors and electricians but nothing from any NRTL.

Most people don’t understand the trip curve of a circuit breaker or the UL Standard used in the manufacturing process. Any breaker of any name brand made today will allow 135% of its rated current pass for two hours. This means that a 100 amp breaker will carry 135 amps for a two hour period and still meet the standard by which it is made.

How much heat energy is there in 35 amps? Should breakers made by today’s standards be called out as failing?

As a general rule of thumb any breaker made today will allow six times its rating pass for a short period of time. This is incorporated into the breaker to allow motors and other types of inductors time to start. This is known as the inrush currents. A 15 amp inverse time breaker just like the one we buy every day of the week will allow 90 amps to pass for a period of up to two full minutes and still be within the standards they are to meet. Should these be called out as a defect?

Breakers from the time period of this discussion had even more slack in their trip curves and this includes all breakers from every manufacturer. I look at the time period not the brand name of all electrical installations and form my opinion based on what is in front of me instead of just calling out a brand name as those idiots from the site you posted in post #2.

Now before everyone gets started on my choice of words let me define idiot; From Middle English, from Old French idiote](http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/idiote#Old_French) (later idiot), from Latin idiota](http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/idiota#Latin), from Ancient Greek [FONT=Arial]ἰδιώτης](http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ἰδιώτης#Ancient_Greek)[/FONT] (idiotēs, “a private citizen, one who has no professional knowledge, layman”),

As I have pointed out many times I don’t use such websites for information. I use sites such as but not limited to, IEEE, NEMA, UL, MET, CPSC and other sites where those who make comments have the proper training to do forensic investigations when some electrical device is called out as a defective product. Show me evidence form these people and you might change my mind but a site that was started by a plumber is not going to get the job done.

Of course I caught the point, that was MY point. I didn’t remove anything, I copied it directly from page 34.

It’s interesting to me that the author of that document implies that there are nearly 800 house fires per year as a direct result of FPE Stab-lok components (pg 32) with an estimated property loss of over $11,000,000 per year, however, they offer no evidence to back up that claim.

I would think this to be a “no-brainer.” Bring this proof to the table and I bet people would listen. I also believe that if there were any verifiable evidence to back up this implication, insurance companies would be all over it. After all, they are the ones taking the financial hit.

Call me a sceptic, but as I’ve said before, I’ve done my research on FPE and Zinsco, which is why I disagree with much of the information on that site.

Insurance companies are “all over it” as you put it here in South Florida at least.
Try getting insurance with one of the FPE panels.
I make my clients aware that they may not be able to get insurance and to find out before they purchase the home.

Only those that do soft reports do not mention the FPE issue.
Like I already said even here they get this on my reports.

A Federal Pacific Electric “Stab-Lok” service panel is in use. These panels and breakers are a latent hazard and can fail to trip in response to over current, leading to electrical fires. The breakers may also fail to shut off internally even if the toggle is switched to “off.” Some double-pole (240-Volt) FPE circuit breakers and single-pole FPE Stab-Lok circuit breakers simply do not work safely. There are other panel-defects independent of the breaker problems, panel and panel-bus fires and arcing failures in some equipment. The failure rates for these circuit breakers were and still are significant. In some cases failure to trip occurs 60% of the time - a serious fire and electrical shock hazard. Failures are documented in the CPSC study and by independent research. Have a licensed electrician make **further evaluation **and **corrections as needed. **

Define the term “latent hazard” and then show me the proof that this is an accurate statement. I’ll give you a hint, you can’t.

I feel the need to say, “Here we go again”. :wink:

Don’t worry Stephen I have no use to argue!
Ones mans opinion over many.

Not opinion Kevin. Answer the question.

Example Sentences Origin
la·tent   [leyt-nt] Show IPA
present but not visible, apparent, or actualized; existing as potential: latent ability.
Pathology . (of an infectious agent or disease) remaining in an inactive or hidden phase; dormant.
Psychology . existing in unconscious or dormant form but potentially able to achieve expression: a latent emotion.
Botany . (of buds that are not externally manifest) dormant or undeveloped.

By the way Stephen I liked your Website so much that I submitted it to the Web Tech designing mine along with 2 others.


I could care less if you throw out the link in post #2. Go ahead, there is plenty of other info available. It was only an example of where a lot of info is available I never said anything about trusting in a photo, and you certainly haven’t produced any evidence to show that your claim that photos have been doctored it true. I don’t care about that either.

You also claim “the studies are proven to be wrong”. Which ones? Which testing? The CPSC’s? The independent? Please post something to back up your claim. I don’t care about your opinion because there are plenty of other electrician, contractors and engineers(one who presented to the CPSC who have a different opinion).

No offense but your opinion means no more than theirs to me because you’re all just words on my computer. If all the documented testing is not to be trusted (over 500 sample breakers) than what evidence is there that refutes it?

Why do people get on here and tell us everything we have been shown, with evidence) for years is wrong and then they don’t offer anything concrete. It doesn’t help, it just confuses the issue.

I’ll give you an example, I know that trip curves have some flex to them but if the breaker(as documented in the FPE tests) never trips it is no different than an overfused circuit. Inspectors are taught to call these out as well. So one is okay and the other isn’t? That’s confusion.

I have been around here for about 9 years and FPE is always a key topic of discussion.

I have heard numerous opinions, had a FPE in my own home (sent it to Paul Abernathy) and if you ask home inspectors, electricians, building inspectors, realtors and insurance companies you get different stories, opinions.

So I am a believer now that I report on the condition of the panel like any other by taking off the cover. (one thing I hate about FPE is how the breakers overhang the twist outs)

I also include the link about the FPE so my clients can read all the information about them. (not that the will)

I do not recommend replacement due to the panel being an FPE stabloc.

I was always to believe the main issue with the FPE was the failure or the breakers to trip when overloaded.

If an electrician was called out would they actually load test the breakers to see if they trip.

There are electricians around here that advertise on the radio about the hazards of an FPE.

Enjoy the discussions on FPE!!

In such a case, you should absolutely make the client aware of the potential that the home may be “un-insurable.” When this becomes the “norm” for insurance companies, I’m sure it will be the result of documented losses.

We have a few carriers in SoCal that require the home to have a seismic shutoff valve installed at the gas main (even though they are not required by the state) and the City of Los Angeles also requires them.

This does not, however, mean that a home is safer with one installed. It’s just a position that an insurance company took on another controversial issue.