Sub or Flub??

I had the oportunity to inspect the house ahead of time due to setting up a radon test.

I am recommending an electrician to review/repair the FPE panel and also the original main due to the double taps.

I am currently working with a friend that is a home inspector/Licensed electrician with hopes to be as strong in this field one day as people that usually respond to these posts. I really appreciate your knowledge & professionalism.

I wanted to ask that since it looks like they added on the FPE and now does this make the original 60 amp main a sub panel. Because it appears that the ground & nuetral are tied together.

Any explanation from the electrical GURUs is appreciated.



Man is it nice to have the inspection all done before it is even schueduled to start.


If in fact the service is running through the older fuse panel to feed the newer added FPE panel then you have one problem their. Now I can’t tell from the image but it looks like they sure have that nipple jammed packed with wires.

In this case the way I see the setup the FPE is now the main panel and the fused is the sub. I also see the FPE panel as not being complaint as it is more than 6 breakers and does not posses a main and from the best I can see the service again feeds into the old panel and then through to the FPE…which is not allowed.

If the setup is as described then the neutral and grounding set up is wrong…totally not the way it should be in a normal setup.


So you are not allowed to pass the main service wires from the older 60 amp to the FPE box. The correct way is for the service wires to go directly to the main service disconnect in the main panel.

Thanks I wasnt even aware of that.

I see this type of FPE panel in a lot of homes.

I believe it was you that said that it is best left to a sparky and to not try to diagnoss the repairs myself.

I would be curious of how you would report the following panels.

Also it was hard to tell but I thought there may be some 12 gauge aluminum wiring or is that tinned coated. It was hard to tell due to the other wires being in the way.




You are correct, it is always better for the liability of the inspector to simply refer to a Licensed Electrical Contractor…

I can't tell on the wires from the image but always check those when on the inspection site to be sure and note if possible.

As for the FPE…as I was telling Jeff one day…we see way more FPE panels down here in VA…much more than Zinsco’s but again I just happen to be one of those electricians who say I can’t comment on a FPE until I actually see it…I can’t personally use the open blanket concept of all FPE’s need to be replaced…while it is good measure I just can’t be the one to tell a client this if I looked at it and it is neat and working properly and no overheating in the panel by using a thermal and looking at insulation…

With that said…nothing wrong with suggesting a FPE be replaced and giving them the safety verbage…gotta keep us electricians busy you know.

Now trust me you will see many things…but the way this panel is fed through a older 60A to a another panel which is intended to be a MAIN but really has no MAIN…to then feed a Sub-Panel that has the original grounded conductor within it…versus being run with the new service to the newer FPE panel is not the way to do it…

Basically you should refer it…as stated above because if you start going into many details you could step over the boundary but here are a few items…

Report : It appears the Neutral/Grounding setup is not correct in terms of the standard for electrical wiring. Also it appears that the Original panel is being used as a gutter to supply a newer circuit breaker panel and the proper methods of grounding is not correct. I suggest you contact a Licensed Electrical Contractor for review and correction to this panel as soon as possible.

I really would not go any more than this…we could get into more details but this is all you need to refer to a local electrical contractor and remove the liability from your hands.


Thank you for your replies and the information.


Where is the service disconnect? I don’t see one there.

I see more problems than noted throughout the post, but having an electrician evaluated further will address these concerns. Possibly a remove and re-install. Maybe the post should read “identify the numerous amount of problems”.


I would like to hear your comments on some of the defects that you observed in the photos.

The interesting part of our profession is when I explain the panel to the client.

I can be an alarmast and scare her about the FPE.

Or I can explain in my normal voice that there are numerous defects and potential safety concerns and have a licensed electrician evaluate for repairs and possable replacement.

I recently was informed by my electrician/inspector friend that when a re wire is done there has to be 2 20 amp circuits installed in the kitchen & one in each bathroom. This can cost as much as replacing the panels.

Is a toilet in a basement considered a bath. And then would it be required to have a 20 amp circuit.



Greg…Exactly…now trying to figure out if they are pulling the 6 disconnect issue is not a major issue here.,…the fact the service is feeding through another distribution panel is a concern, also as you stated in that the lack of service disconnect and so on…just much easier to refer to a Licensed Electrical Contractor for review.


Actually you are partially correct in that while the kitchen does require at a minimum (2) applicance circuits for the counter top.....with regards to the can have (1) one 20A circuit do all the recepts in the bathrooms of the house....and have them protected by (1) GFCI and meet todays code....However, if you are going to serve (1) bathroom with a single 20A circuit you can also do the lighting as well in the same bathroom with that single long as THAT is the only bathroom on the circuit.

You do not need a 20A circuit for every bathroom...even by todays standards....Just wanted to clear that up for ya.