Is this a Zinsco Main Panel ?

The house was built in 1976… Usually I see the writing on the panel
indicating its a Zinsco. I seen some observed arcing on the panel.
Didnt observe any problems with the Branch circuits.
What should be the write up?


Sure looks like one.

Yes, it is.

It’s probably a Sylvania (they bought Zinsco) panel due to the age could be why you don’t see the Zinco name or the sticker came off. The Internnachi electrical course states “Due to the frequent failure of the connection between the breaker and its bus, the inspector should recommend full evaluation and possible replacement of the panel.”
Looks like you could have that issue going on with those burn marks. They have issues with the clips that hold it to the bus. With that problem and that they are so close to the dead front breakers can be knocked loose when taking off the dead front. Could be the reason for the burn marks. If the electrician doesn’t convince them to change it the insurance company might. I’ve owned homes with Zinsco and Stabloc panels and never had an issue but with what I know now I would have changed them.

There is definately nothing that looks quite like those panels is there!

I would also state that the panel is full which precludes a visual evaluation of the buss bars. It also limits future expansion, and always let the buyer know that the Zinsco/Sylvalia panels are suspect. Here’s why:

Buyer moves in and hire an electrician to (fill in the blank). If the electrician sees an opportunity to sell the client a new panel, he will throw you under the bus (pun intended) and say “your inspector should have told you these are a fire hazard”.

Always recommend that the client research these panels and determine if they want to pursue an upgrade. Since there were no official recalls, just speculation, you cannot call for replacement.

Says who? I give my client a choice of two options…have it removed or install a smoke detector immediately above it. It’s the code inspector who is limited in what he can enforce…but there is no such restriction upon a home inspector and what he can recommend to his client for the preservation of his life and property.

I fully agree that they should be replaced. But on what grounds can you say that it must be replaced? Unless there is a recall that I don’t know about.

I never use the word “must” in anything I write in an inspection report. I can only “recommend”.

Under what authority “must” anyone comply with the directives of a home inspector?

Here’s what we put:

The panel was manufactured by Zinsco/Sylvania. These panels were made with alloy buss bars which are easily dented. Because of this, a poor connection with the circuit breakers sometimes develops which can create a fire hazard. We recommend that you consult with a licensed electrician as to the integrity of this electric panel. More information can also be found at [size=2][/size]](

Concerns: Probably because I am in CA, I would be concerned about getting sued by a seller if the buyer cancelled over my recommendation to replace the panel. The seller has a good case to claim a loss if my negligent actions cause him to lose money.

What if he sued you because of a “recommendation” to replace a furnace with a cracked heat exchanger? A 30 year old water heater with a corroded base?

If your reports do not recommend improvements over observed conditions that are less than optimal, what are their value? I do not understand.

There is a difference between a cracked heat exchanger (broken item) or rusted water heater (worn item) and just recommending that something gets replaced.

I was simply asking on what grounds you would recommend replacing the Zinsco? Just the reputation? An opinion? A recall?

There are two schools of thought among electrical contractors on Zinsco and FP boxes. If they have been there for 40 years the odds are they will be fine…or, these devices were catching fire when they were new and we can only expect them to become more dangerous the older they get.

If there was a recently paroled child rapist living next door that I knew about and I knew that my client had three young daughters who would be playing in the unfenced backyard…I would alert him to the danger and recommend that he install or take whatever measures he needed to make them safe. Will the rapist act upon his impulses or will he remain dormant? Your guess as to this…or the future integrity of an electrical service panel with a history of fire…is just a guess.

I recommend that, based upon its history and the potential for loss of life or property, that he replace it or put a smoke detector over it, at a minimum. Whether he gets the seller to do it, does it himself, or decides to walk away from the deal…it matters little to me and has no bearing on my report.

I agree with not suggesting replacement. When I see one of those problem panels on an inspection or not I inform the people about the possible issues with that equipment and suggest they get a Licensed Electrician to look at it. We can’t see some signs of a problem because we can’t remove the breakers. The breakers have been known to arc and weld to the buss. The breakers have also been known to not trip (look at the video below). I know an electrician that has been doing the job for 50 years. He told me he recommends replacement since the product is obsolete and there are safer products now. He will never tell people it’s going to burn the house down since he doesn’t know if it will or not. There is also alternatives to replacement of the panel. There are replacement breakers that claim to be better and there are also retrofit panel boards so you can just replace the guts of the panel. Let the electrician make the final call in my opinion.

From today. . .




I am curious why a Seller has any legal ground to sue. They do not! We are not hired by them, they authorize us to come into the home and inspect it on behalf of the buyer, there is no implied or contractual obligation to the Seller and under a inspection contingency the buyer can choose to cancel for any reason… I also sold Real Estate for years…If I recommend replacing something to my client, the buyer has the right to do it or not! they hire us for our input and recommendations. Never heard of any inspector being sued for recommending a panel. I had an “slimy investor” yell at me because I told my client the FPE panel was a potential fire hazard and I recommended it be replaced. His electrician said it was fine, but three others that worked for my clients father (who owns a construction company) told him the same thing I did… Seller had no cause to come after me! I am not hired by him… and oh, he gave him the money to have the whole panel replaced. I give the recommendation, as well as, where to look up the information about the panels themselves…

For one thing , it’s a definate safety issue . 1. could get zapped , 2 . could go up in smoke do to your house fire !:D:D:D

For my benefit, if there is no label identifying the brand of panel, what can I look for in the panel to tell me that it is a Zinsco panel?

The “blade-type” bus bars (not visible in this photo) are the biggest give-away. The breaker style is also unique to Zinsco.

I recommend everyone of them be replaced as well, I also use the same phrase I stole from Jim Bushart, if they chose not to replace it, install a Smoke Detector directly above it.