Remember…the Stab-Lok is generally not the problem. The reason they pop out is a design flaw in the cover and the way the breakers are installed. Also due to poor or improper installation of the breakers itself. The contact area (surface points) of the stab-lok design equate to more contact than many of the leading manufacturers on the market today…anything if installed improperly will fail over time…anything !
Remember…AGE is a B*tch…I am a firm believer that regardless of the make or style that after 25-30 years all OCPD’s should be replaced. The reliability of this device is not something I want to chance so why not more so recommend replacement of OCPD’s within panel enclosures because of age versus make. At least defer to a licensed electrical contractor and let them make that call.
So here are some recommendations for you…
1.) Stop calling FPE defective simply because it is a Stab-Lok design. The problem is in the poor workmanship of the installation and design flaws of the covers itself. Remember, when the cover is installed the breakers are NOT falling out …look to see if you see damage to the bus due to poor connections if possible…then call it out for that…not the design.
2.) Recommend replacement of the OCPD’s with replacements that are indeed UL Listed ( or some other NTRL Lab ) as that is where the real problem lies. If less than 15 Circuit Breakers then chances are this is the best cost effective method to gain some safe compliance.
3.) Recommend replacement of the entire panel if you have over 15 Circuit Breakers or any notice of damage to the panel board area or signs of overheating due to poor gap connections.
4.) Recommend a panel board insert replacement. Eaton Corporaton makes inserts panel boards that are UL ( and NTRL listed) inserts that are custom designed to still use the FPE enclosure but replaces the panel board “Guts” and provides a new cover. Know the client does not have to see the walls ripped up, panel replaced and has new modern breakers…might be a cost effective option…remember clients like options so they can make choices.
If you are against opening FPE panels…I might say that practice makes perfect and your clients expectations are that you are going to give them a complete inspection. Not just label it an FPE and defer it without looking at it…see I would have a problem with that but to each his own as I respect others opinions on that. I would suggest getting a good pair of safety glasses and well fitted safety gloves and inspect those panels. Learn how to replace that rare breaker that pop’s out…learn how to replace it and how to be safe about it ( I don’t mind teaching you that…for free…just ask me ) and inspect all panel enclosures.
I honestly worry more about you guys falling off ROOFS than I do inspecting FPE panels…wear your PPE and insect them as I know you all are TOP NOTCH in my book…and for those who lack the confidence…educate…educate…educate my friends.
Just my opinions…not looking to sway anyone…not looking to debate anyone…not looking to negate anyone…;)…just figured since I do not come by very much anymore I would devote some time to educate.