I inspect homes for an insurance company. Ive recently seem multiple houses with Federal Pacific Stab Loc breakers. I’m aware of their history and the problems they cause. My question is, are these panels dangerous enough to take action on as an insurance company; i.e. non-renew them of they do not replace it. Just how dangerous are these things? As an inspector do you not sign off on an inspection without strongly recommending that a homeowner replace a FPE panel? I’m just looking for anyone’s opinion.
Sorry I work for my client and not the insurance companies .
I am sure if you work for an Insurance company they have many records that can tell them how good or bad FP panels are.
A few things to consider. As I do my inspections, whether a homeowner or an insurance agency is writing the check, I report what I see. This means I try my best to eliminate any bias. I’d be worried that the very insurance company I may favor on an inspection, is the same insurance company who would be concerned I’d favor one of their customers.
With regard to FPE panels, etc., there’s far more than enough information about their issues and the subsequent class action lawsuits that you need only document your findings and direct your client to the web.
I appreciate the second reply. As far as the first reply, I do work for the insurance company. I help set policy on these things. I was fishing for others experience and opinion. I would appreciate less smug replies. You were no help whatsoever. You would have been better off not replying. Please keep this in mind next time, ok?
I started in the electrical trade in 1966 working in the summer when school was out and have been in the trade ever since.
I have worked on just about every type and brand name breaker and fuse known to mankind. It has been my experience that all are subject to misuse, abuse, and improper installation practices. When this is the case one is just as bad as the other.
Let’s look at Edison base fuses. This is one of the safest overcurrent devices that have ever been in production. Their trip curve is almost nil. They open quickly under overload, ground fault, or short circuit. Much faster than an inverse time circuit breaker.
So what is the big problem with these fuses and the reason just about everyone says they are bad? It is because Mr./Mrs. home owner will replace a 15 with a 30 (improper installation practices).
What about the breakers? Breakers open under two instances, thermal and magnetic. The older breakers opened only by thermal which means they don’t open as quick during a ground fault or short circuit as the dual breakers will.
I have seen breakers that are less than 10 years old fail to open when they were not installed in a compliant manner or were abused. On mobile homes where the service disconnect is on a pole outside and subject to the weather and the enclosure has knock outs missing, bird houses mounted over them, and the list goes on and on, the breakers fail no matter their brand name.
FPE has gone out of business so to trash them is very easy as they don’t have a chance to respond. The same technology they used during their life was used by every other breaker manufacturer of that time. What we don’t see is these web sites attacking the other manufacturers like they do FPE. Wonder why? Could it be because FPE is not around to defend their self like the others are?
When doing an evaluation of an electrical system I evaluate what is in front of me and I also do it without bias or prejudice. I give MY opinion and do not give a bunch of unfounded opinions of others.
I have found the same problems with every manufacturer of breakers that is always pointed to when speaking about FPE. I have found burnt buses, breakers that would not turn off, breakers that didn’t trip during an overload to the point of damage to the conductor, ect…
In summation; As an electrician for many years I say one is as bad as the other. As an electrical inspector I say that one is as bad as the other. As an electrical instructor I say that one is as bad as the other. Any device will fail if it is not properly installed and maintained.
To compare FPE or any other manufacturer of that time era to the manufacturer of breakers today would be like comparing a Model T to a car of today.
Below is a link that I use in the classroom when doing education classes for electricians and inspectors that some might find interesting.
Well said unfortunately there are many who will not see this post and many who will not believe what is posted.
FP is still available in Canada Manufactured by Schneider Electric the same company that makes SQ D.
Roy I agree that few will read or comment on my post simply because they would rather have someone else do their inspections instead of learning their trade and doing what they get paid to do, report the truth. This is sad that the HI trade has stooped to such low standards.
I don’t mind when someone refers to a government web site that speaks the truth but to post some of the sites mentioned here on a regular basis reminds me of the commercial where the lady got a date from a French model off the internet.
What was it that Grandpa said? Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see. Believe nothing you find on the internet unless it gets researched. Never blindly follow something you know nothing about unless you desire bad things to happen.
It saddens my heart that people are so gullible when it comes to something they are getting paid to do. Most will believe anything they hear, read, or are shown without doing one second of investigating on their own. One good example of this is the old wives tale that current is seeking a path back to earth although every publication used to teach current flow clearly states that current is always seeking a path back to its source. Last Thursday evening I had to spend a couple of hours proving that a system will work fine without an electrode and that there is only four reasons why electrodes are installed and a safe working system is not one of them.
Are you aware that FPE still technically exists (in an attorney’s office in Newark NJ)… They defended themselves in a class action lawsit a couple ofears ago in NJ
Were you aware of the loss of their UL listiings for a time? 480volt molded case breakers. The records were subsequently sealed fom thepublic view as a part of the FPE settlement with the State.
While I agree that there is much more to the story than StabLock, there are other things in FPE’s past that are far more disconcerting.
Yes I am aware of the law suit that was filed against FPE and I am also aware of the CPSC investigation of them.
I am aware that the CPSC who is charged with the safety of the public did not recall even one breaker and I am also aware that the law suit does not mention anything about how these breakers function but only that they had fraudulent UL labels.
I also know that a bunch of uneducated folks have tried for several years to just condemn them without one once of truth in their statements.
I also am aware that for the most part the human being is very lazy and will take most information at face value without doing one bit of their own investigation. I hold myself to a higher level than this and have spent many hours doing investigation of this very subject matter.
I am also aware that one cannot believe what the read on the internet either unless there is some foundation to their statements.
Well said unfortunately there are many who will not see this post and many who will not believe what is posted.
Fp is still available in canada manufactured by schneider electric the same company that makes sq d.[/font]
Here is one from yesterday. Under FP Federal Pioneer IE: Schneider Electric from 1946.
I do not like stab loc outlets and switches myself if they are stabbed and not on the lug. Ether/or they are ok in Canada and I have learned they are ok…
Thanks very much for the link. I learned a lot from that one. Cheers.
Mike is a wealth of information
I am calling you out and throwing the proverbial flag again Mike. You say that you report on what you find directly in front of you. However, the two main issues with FPE products are not visible. First, degraded buses are not visible with the breakers installed. Second, failure to trip is not a defect that can be visually recognized.
Furthermore, name one other manufacturer who had their UL listing yanked due to fraud. Name one?
The CPSC did not mandate a recall as I have stated in the past. However, this was more to due with outside factors than whether the products warranted recall. It was well established by then recent case precedent that the CPSC did not have the authority to regulate products that were not sold directly to the consuming public. Since FPE products were sold to builders and contractors, they could not legally force a recall. Also, the shift in the political climate to a more business friendly White House meant that funding could quickly erode for the CPSC if they seemed to be pressing the wrong buttons, so to say.
There is great debate whether these constitute an inherent defect. However, I merely inform the homeowner there exists considerable disagreement to the performance and safety of FPE products and recommend they undertake due diligence in determining for themselves if the risk is tolerable.
I suggest this is the best course to follow. Observe and inform.
The only thing that was ever “proved” was fraud. The UL label was not yanked.
Every manufacturer of breakers and panels that has ever been sold has had the problems with buss burns and breakers that would not trip so are we to call out every one of them out or do we just call out one name brand because they were in court for something unrelated to these problems?
I am old enough to remember when a black man walked into a restaurant they would refuse to sell to him and today we have one as president. Did something somehow change? Wonder what? The mindset.
My simple question is if all this danger is there why are these houses and businesses that still have them installed not burned to the ground?
If you say it is because the breaker has not yet been overloaded I am going to come back with wonder if this is why none of the other brand names hasn’t either.
Close your mind if you like but mine is still open.
The UL listing WAS suspended. You need to actually research and fully read the CPSC investigation findings before defending them so vehemently.
The listing was restored, but only after FPE proved they had renewed compliance testing and the issues had, by then, been addressed to the satisfaction of UL.
I do agree that every manufacturer’s product is subject to occassional issues, but if you research the failure rates the CPSC found with FPE, no other known manufacturer’s products have anywhere near the similiar percentage of incidents.
You take the stance that HI’s should remain quiet on the issue. Well, you are not a HI. It is not hard to imagine someone might face legal repercussions if they follow your advice and do not at least mention the controversy surrounding FPE products if they are present in a home.
By observing and informing, we can rest assurred we have conducted due diligence as required in the execution of our duties, plain and simple.
Had Reliance kept their mouth shut then there wouldn’t be one word about FPE thrown around like it is today. Those ambulance chasers in NJ would not have had the information they needed to start a suit that lined their pockets and did nothing to protect the public. By the way they were paid by NJ tax payers.
With the thousands of law suits brought on by CPSC to force a recall I have a hard time believing that if there had been all this hype about FPE that over the past 28 years the recall would been made but alas there are those who will blindly follow whatever they read on the internet.
Just how many times does CPSC have to post their findings before someone will listen to what they are saying or does everyone expect them to go broke on just one item that there is not enough information to prove the need for a recall? Are they to do a recall because of a label? This is all that has been proven. Maybe it is because people have already made up their minds or maybe they believe everything they read on the internet.
I think that it was you that posted a link to Ray Franco’s site where he posted pictures of several different manufactures of circuit breakers that had failures. He covered Square “D”, Eaton, GE and others that had failures. We all also know that the older an item is the less technology was used in its manufacturing process and the likelihood that there are more of them in use than the newer technology.
I suppose we should call these also using his pictures to show that we have use diligence while doing our job. Maybe we should use those pictures to ensure that we are not held liable in case these panels fail after our inspections.
I am not asking a Home Inspector to do anything but to not get mad when I refute their findings after all I am the one they referred to with their findings by saying something like, I recommend that the system be evaluated by a licensed electrician.
Interesting Mike. I guess you still havent done the research yet. I will again help you to understand. The CPSC DOES NOT HAVE THE LEGAL AUTHORITY TO MANDATE A RECALL ON A PRODUCT THAT WAS NOT SOLD DIRECTLY TO THE CONSUMING PUBLIC. That was a precendent setting, legal verdict rendered in another case around the same time the CPSC was investigating FPE. FPE was sold to builders and contractors. That played the key pivotal role in the CPSC ending their investigation. The CPSC would most certainly be challenged in court if they attempted to force a recall and the legal outcome was then clear. They would lose!
No, by the way, it was not I who made the post you refer to.
Also, I do not, nor do I recommend anyone else, refer FPE equipment to licensed electricians for evaluation UNLESS one or more visual defects are observed. In all actuallity, as myself and others have both pointed out to you in the past, neither yourself nor practically any other electrician has the capability to determine whether or not FPE breakers will fail to open during a fault event.
In regard to IR, even though you contend it is, I think as you termed before, “smoke and mirrors”, no electrician has the capability to evaluate internal thermal defects that an HI has found during an inspection using IR. As David Anderson pointed out in another post, recommending further evaluation by an electrician is pointless. When an internal thermal related issue has been identified in an electrical panel by the HI (if he is properly trained), all that is required is the appropriate repair. Bubba Joe isnt going to recognize the defect because almost certainly he is not a certified thermographer that understands IR and the visually hidden associated failures that the technology uncovers.
Again, the best course of action is for an HI to inform the client if FPE products are installed in the home and that there are considerable controversy regarding them. Then let the client decide whether it warrants action.
Mike, since you are not an HI, you do not have the same level of liability that most states place on an HI. In both Kentucky and Tennessee, along with many other states as I understand, in addition to GL, we must also carry E and O. That burden is not required of EC’s in either state.
So yea, go ahead and tout how great FPE is. You have nothing to lose. However, HI’s could have a considerable legal burden should they remain silent and something happens later on. HIs should be leary of following advice that can place them at risk. Say nothing, face potential liability. Inform and eliminate the risk for yourself. Simple answer.
More than you think
I find that statement strange
I believe this was along about the same time or maybe this company sold only to home owners
My research does not include that site in NY, does yours?
I don’t think I said anything about remaining silent about anything but if you are going to trash one then the same liability is there for every panel out there is it not?
I dont think there is any significant controversy surrounding other brands with the exception of Zinsco maybe.
All products are subject to failure. None will disagree there. It is simply a matter of due diligence. The same due diligence we use in specifically disclaiming heat exchangers for example.
The one thing that I notice the most iare that the ones that are being called out like FPE and Zinsco are out of business. Wonder what the outcome would be should we start calling others that have proven to fail such as Eaton and GE.