More Fun With FPE

Here’s a common problem with the Stab-lok design. Regardless of when it was manufactured, the Stab-lok design is inherently flawed.

One Breaker fell out when I removed the cover. Three others were never properly seated.

lol…Jeff I inspected a FPE just yesterday…the thing look in perfect condition…and was working fine…

As an electrician I have a hard time telling a client they have to spend 1,500 to 2,000 in a service change just because it is a FPE panel…we have thousands of them in our area…

I make them aware of the issues, explain the possible problems, make the suggesting to upgradeing atleast the breakers to the newer tested models made by challenger I believe…and so on.

Now you get some really wild ones…but for the most part if the panel is not double tapped…and looks neat and indoors with no corrosion inside and looks in good shape for the most part…I wont tell them they should replace it…

Now in the one you show…heck it is only 8 breakers…simple service change…but in the ones I usually see…a full panel of 20-30 breakers…much more costly…

Again really depends on the LOOK of the situation…but you sure do fine some nice ones…:slight_smile:


When I have a crocodile problem , I will call Steve Irwin…Goodday Mate

When I have a FPE panel problem… I will call Jeff Pope!!:smiley:

WOW… You work in FPE land Jeff…Just incredible! :wink:

Ok…Have at me Patrick…:slight_smile:

Federal Pacific Hunter…I can just hear the jingle now

Dang-er-ous Snapp’in Monstar THE FPE Panel… Gosh Golly Mate,

We gonna have ta Nail this babey with a insulated GLOVE mate…:smiley:

Sorry just goofy tonight guys… Been smelling that incredible STEAK on the grill flavor from the near by ritzy restaurant… SOOOO TASTEY… Must EAT s-t-e-a-k…:smiley:


Have ever asked anyone at a fire department what the statics were in your area for electrical related fires to these panels…and Zinsco?

I never knew there was so many still in service…I only run into one or the other maybe once a month.

here in Virginia…well in my area from 1970’s into early 1980’s…everything was FPE…FPE here…FPE there…now as for Zinsco…I rarley see them in our area…maybe a few a year at best…

I can tell you this…I did an electrical call to a house about 3 months ago that burnt down…the cause was listed as a faulty GE panel…and it was installed in the 90’s…everything can FAIL…some more than others but when dealing with electrical issues…anything can FAIL !


Are there any statistics regarding fire occurrence with either type of panel you know of?

I asked an inspector for a large commercial sprinkler/fire monitoring company here if he ever heard/remembered of any fire related issues with a FP or Zinsco in Phoenix…his answer was no.

In Arizona…being a dry desert climate the FP and Zinsco I come across are not in that bad of shape until you remove the panel cover…in which generally the breakers pop out and you have to fight the dam thing getting it back together.

But I have not seen the burnt buses-etc; like Jeff runs into.


I think the actual fire issue with Zinsco and FPE are far less than actually thought…in fact the real concern was not with the popping out of breakers…more so the fact a report surfaced saying they don’t trip reliable in fault situations…

Granted that a loose breaker can produce an arc which in time can heat up and all that jazz…but again so can a incorrectly installed Square D Home Line breaker…i hear them BUZZING all the time…:slight_smile:

Jeff does run into some good ones…I must admit but if you take into account a possible recommendation to the client who has a FPE to upgrade the breakers or atleast as many as possible to the lastest tested models it would be a SAFE “TACTFUL” solution to simply crying FOUL on every FPE you run into.

I think Jeff would agree…it really depends on the condition of the panel as to what is said actually…

Actually the funny thing is I get more concerned over Zinsco than FPE…lawsuits are everywhere…I am sure SQ D and CH have had them as well…and I know GE has…they all HAVE…

I can tell you …yes the stab-lok is flawed but so are some others in my opinion.

BTW…I just called my friend on my cell…he is a fire marshall in Rockingham,Co…I asked him…any reports of fires because of electrical panels…in general…he said no…if it is electrical it is usually from the DIYer adding something or his last comment was…baseboards with curtains hanging over them…

In deed, the fact with the faulty breakers cause concern…but most of the ones I come across appear to be original installations in residential anyway. There does not appear to be any issues until the face cover is removed.

I have always wondered if the dam breakers were falling out when the electrician originally installed the system, or age some how played a factor.

I hear you…and I also hear the Square D’s buzzing often also.

That’s exactly the reason why I never ever take the cover off an FPE Stab-Lok panel. Just seeing the name Stab-Lok means an electrician is required, and I ain’t no electrician. I have a ton of information in my report via links to educate my Clients about FPE and Zinsco (not to mention personal experience with arcing Zinsco panels).

We have thousands of Zinsco and FPE panels still in use down here, as well. Last June or July we did an inspection in a ritzy Rancho Bernardo (anything here with “Rancho” in the name is ritzy) condo complex where FPE panels were still in use. The sellers upgraded the panel for my Clients and, after moving in, Ms. Client, at my suggestion, went to the HOA meeting armed with my information about the Stab-Lok panels. A couple of months later Ms. Client called to tell me that the HOA had voted to have all FPE Stab-Lok panels replaced and Ms. Client had volunteered to chair the replacement committe. So she called me asking about electricians who could take on a 435-unit complex. The one I recommended bid on the job, and won. I got a nice thank-you card from Mr. Electrician. Rarely have I been so happy that I had three margaritas instead of two. :smiley:

I came real close December 28, 2001. We had just bought this seimi-fixer-upper in June 2001 with a Zinsco panel. I was working in the home office and had about a 10-second brownout at 4:30 a.m. I turned on the TV and logged onto to see if there had been a major transformer explosion nearby. Nothing. An hour later, another 10-second brownout. Now I’m thinking electric panel. So I went out there (just outside my rear office door), opened the panel, and saw a beautiful Fourth of July fireworks display. I moved to my notebook computer and shut things down. The electrician couldn’t get to me until after 5:00 which, since the 28th was a Friday, meant that I would be paying weekend double-time rates. The Zinsco panel was fried. Replacement 100-amp panel would be about $400. No problem. And he could do it around January 15. Ooooooops. That won’t work. Quick calls to other electricians also indicated a time frame of around January 15. So I asked about options. Few options since Monday was New Year’s Eve, a holiday, and Tuesday was New Year’s Day, another holiday. However, if I wanted to pay holiday rates, they could install a panel on Saturday, the 29th. That would work. Cost would be $2,735. Ooooooops. Doesn’t work so well, after all. Alas, they took credit cards.

I had the company replace two other Zinsco panels in other properties, but I let them do it at their convenience. Total cost was $835 for the other two panels.

Moral: Replace them now before they cause problems.

Recommendation to Clients in home inspection reports: “Recommend further evaluation by licensed electrician.”

Now if they’ll take me out to eat some pizza and drink some margaritas (meaning no home inspector hat on and no liability), I’ll tell them to replace it and to have it done before close of escrow.

AS stated…everyone is entitled to an opinion…:slight_smile:


lol…you are too funny RR…lol

hmmm…I may do it for a few beers…you never know !