Panel covers for FPE panels

Are inspectors supposed to take of stab-loc panel covers in the course of the inspection?
I am reviewing this and have found lots of different views but nothing concrete. In North Carolina they train the inspectors to not remove the panel covers just mark them as defective ([FONT=Calibri][size=3] page 45-46[/size][/FONT]]([FONT=Calibri][size=3])
In KY the home inspector board does not want FPE noted as a problem simply because they exist.

What is InterNACHI stance on removing FPE and Zinco panel covers?
Any direction would be appriciated


Your link didn’t work but this one does.

Not all Zinsco panel covers are the style in the picture. The one in the picture can make contact just like in the picture. Many have been taped with electrical tape to prevent this. Some other Zinsco panels have covers that are hard to remove with out turning off the top row of breakers. The FPE panels have a similar issue and was stated in the document you posted. If you see breakers that are loose and crooked than you should use caution.

Basically do what you feel comfortable doing. If it looks funny don’t mess with it and put it in your report that you didn’t open it and why and that an electrician is needs to investigate it further.

I remove all panel covers, regardless of the brand name.

I know guys that have been inspecting homes here for decades that never remove a panel cover. They do lots of inspections and I feel it’s a disservice not to as long as it’s safe to do.

We too remove all covers if Possible .
12 inches of water on floor did stop me once … Roy

InterNACHI’s SOP does not require the removal of any panel cover or dead front:

3.7. Electrical
I. The inspector shall inspect:
[li]the service drop/lateral;[/li][li]the meter socket enclosures;[/li][li]the means for disconnecting the service main;[/li][li]and describe the service disconnect amperage rating, if labeled;[/li][li]panelboards and over-current devices (breakers and fuses);[/li][li]and report on any unused circuit breaker panel openings that are not filled;[/li][li]the service grounding and bonding;[/li][li]a representative number of switches, lighting fixtures and receptacles, including receptacles observed and deemed to be arc-fault circuit interrupter or AFCI-protected using the AFCI test button, where possible;[/li][li]and test all ground-fault circuit interrupter receptacles and circuit breakers observed and deemed to be GFCIs using a GFCI tester, where possible;[/li][li]and report the presence of solid conductor aluminum branch circuit wiring, if readily visible;[/li][li]and report on any tested receptacles in which power was not present, polarity was incorrect, the cover was not in place, the GFCI devices were not properly installed or did not operate properly, evidence of arcing or excessive heat, and where the receptacle was not grounded or was not secured to the wall;[/li][li]the service entrance conductors and the condition of the conductor insulation;[/li][li]for the general absence of smoke or carbon monoxide detectors; and[/li][li]service entrance cables, and report as in need of repair deficiencies in the integrity of the insulation, drip loop, or separation of conductors at weatherheads and clearances from grade and rooftops.[/li][/LIST]
II. The inspector is not required to:
[li]insert any tool, probe or device into the main panelboard, sub-panels, distribution panelboards, or electrical fixtures.[/li][li]operate electrical systems that are shut down.[/li][li]remove panelboard cabinet covers or dead fronts.[/li][li]operate or re-set over-current protection devices or overload devices.[/li][li]operate smoke or carbon monoxide detectors.[/li][li]measure or determine the amperage or voltage of the main service equipment, if not visibly labeled.[/li][li]inspect the fire and alarm system or components.[/li][li]inspect the ancillary wiring or remote control devices.[/li][li]activate any electrical systems or branch circuits that are not energized.[/li][li]inspect low-voltage systems, electrical de-icing tapes, swimming pool wiring, or any time-controlled devices.[/li][li]verify the service ground.[/li][li]inspect private or emergency electrical supply sources, including, but not limited to: generators, windmills, photovoltaic solar collectors, or battery or electrical storage facility.[/li][li]inspect spark or lightning arrestors.[/li][li]inspect or test de-icing equipment.[/li][li]conduct voltage-drop calculations.[/li][li]determine the accuracy of labeling.[/li][li]inspect exterior lighting.[/li][/LIST]

From International Standards of Practice for Performing a General Home Inspection - InterNACHI

Here is the problem I have found with FP panels. Can you even open them without tripping a breaker and if you do trip a breaker can you guarantee it is reset. Even InterNachi feels that you should refer these panels to a Certified Electrician or a Qualified Electrician. I will stick with erring on the side of caution in regards to both Zinsco and FP.

This (Nachi article) doesn’t say Not to remove any particular type of panel covers. In fact it gives advice on* how to* remove a panel cover.

I have spoken with a number of electricians here and they all feel that the FP panels in Canada meet national standards and are not an issue like they are in the US. I pull off every dead front cover and beside the occasional breker trip when I hit one with the cover I have never seen an issue with the breakers.

I see more FP panels in my area than most electricians out of my area. There is a little trick to removing the dead front just take hold of the bottom leave the top against the panel and lift outward on the bottom until you clear the the breakers then lift it off the top main breaker. I remove them all and never trip a breaker

It’s the Federal Pacific Stab-Lok panels/breakers with the bad history. Not just Federal Pacific in general.

Here’s an FP fuse panel from yesterday.

I realize that the stab loc breakers were the issue in the US. After I posted on the thread I started to do some research. The Stab Loc breaker panels that have CSA approval are built differently then the one in the US to comply. There were some that made it into Canada so some litigation made it across the border.

And that my friends is the issue. You cannot know which ones have the issue. When I say FP I am referring to the stab-lok as for removing them without tripping the breakers go ahead but all it takes is once and you are done. Not worth the effort as they need to be referred anyways to an electrician.

Likewise. And I remove all panel covers as well. Always have.

Nor does it “require” that the inspector walk on the roof. What kind of inspection are you providing if you don’t?

I have more respect for the decision not to remove any covers than I do for those who use the “FPE & Zinsco hype” as an excuse not to remove these particular covers.

I would never suggest that an inspector remove a cover when it is obviously unsafe to do so. The potential for tripping a breaker exists with many brands, as does the potential for breakers to fall out.

There are also several brands where the dead front is in close proximity to the bus bars or main lugs.

Don’t let the name of the panel scare you, let it educate you.

Here is one from this morning’s inspection prolly the most gruesome to remove of all the FP dead front’s it has the 100 amp main sitting to one side in alignment with the right side. Very difficult to remove with out tripping the main

2705 Larchmont PC 3-11-12 PIC 041.jpg

The ones that have the main on top are even worse. Usually, I end up knocking out one of the side breakers to avoid shutting off the power to the home.

Ya mean like this one from yesterday and the day before and the day before and the day before that its a cake walk:D:D

914 Kygar  PC 3-10-12 030.jpg

I love the smell of a grounded conductor cooking in the morning–:smiley:

On FPE’s I still remove the dead front cover to see if there is any solid aluminum wiring circuits. Most of the time they are copper, but you will never know if you don’t pull the cover.