Zinsco Panels

Originally Posted By: jpope
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I seem to come across these quite often. This one didn’t appear to be in real bad shape icon_wink.gif .






Until you put the cover back on



And then you crawl under the house and see what's hooked up to it









Man I love my job


--
Jeff Pope
JPI Home Inspection Service
"At JPI, we'll help you look better"
(661) 212-0738

Originally Posted By: jmyers
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Jeff,


If my memory serves me correctly, most of the problems associated with the Zinsco panels were from the breakers being made in another country and the "clip" mechanism where they contact the breaker being loose and/or sloppy.

A pair of needle nose pliers were used to tighten up the connectors where they attach to the buss bars, solving the problems of the overheating, failing to trip scenarios and the melting buss bars.

Since that is such an open panel, you should be able to readily verify any arcing, melted buss, or overheating/scorch marks.

Joe Myers


Originally Posted By: jpeck
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The problem with Zinsco panels is the breakers don’t always trip, the bus bars are anodized aluminum which are easily scraped with the breaker contacts, the breaker contacts and bus bars both arc up and burn up, the bus bars burn through (they are only aluminum - or some alloy like it - which has a low melting temperature), etc.


The breaker contacts are long slots with spring contacts, the bus bars are angle metal, the breakers are designed to be inserted straight onto the large flat surface of the bus bar. However, the breakers must first be hooked on the end (like all other breakers), then rotated onto the bus bars. This springs the breaker contact apart, as well as scratches the bus bar anodized plating.

There is no cure for this (squeezing the breaker contacts with needle nose pliers only verifies one thing, that if you were successful, the spring contacts have lost their spring tension - you should not be able to bend them).

Like FPE panels, there is but one fix - replacement.


--
Jerry Peck
South Florida

Originally Posted By: jpope
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I agree with Jerry for the most part. I don’t usually recommend “absolute replacement.” But regardless of it’s condition, I always recommend further evaluation (we beat up this issue in the FPE thread).


Non-tripping breakers, loose fitting breakers and corrosion are among the main problems with Zinsco panels that warrant these recommendations. The high cost of replacement breakers is another (less critical) issue.


--
Jeff Pope
JPI Home Inspection Service
"At JPI, we'll help you look better"
(661) 212-0738

Originally Posted By: mrose
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Jeff,


Good pictures.


--
Mike Rose
Cornerstone Home Inspection Co. LLC
Lawrenceville, GA

www.cornerstonehomeinspect.com

Originally Posted By: James D Mosier
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jpeck wrote:
the bus bars are anodized aluminum which are easily scraped with the breaker contacts..... This springs the breaker contact apart, as well as scratches the bus bar anodized plating.



If the bus bars are truely anodized they would have to to be scraped with the breaker contacts or something to allow an electrical connection. Anodize is an insulator.


--
Jim Mosier

Originally Posted By: jpeck
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Jim,


If you notice, I stated "anodized plating", because I did not know exactly what to call it.

Main Entry: an?od?ize
Pronunciation: 'a-n&-"dIz
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): -ized; -iz?ing
: to subject (a metal) to electrolytic action as the anode of a cell in order to coat with a protective or decorative film
- an?od?iza?tion /"a-"nO-d&-'zA-sh&n, "a-n&-/ nou

That is what that plating was for, it protects the aluminum from the wear and tear of the physical contact between the breakers and the aluminum bus bars. I believe you can "anodize" with many products, because "anodize" is the process, not just a particular finish. However, if you know the proper terminology to describe what was done to those bus bars, I am very interested in learning it.

Looking forward to learning something I've always (well, not ALWAYS, but for a long time) wondered about. What was the process used to protect those bus bars and what was it called. Anyone?


--
Jerry Peck
South Florida

Originally Posted By: James D Mosier
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Jerry,


I do not know what the bus bar coating is.

I am unfamiliar with Zinsco panels as I am not an inspector (yet). I see from the pictures that the coating is aluminum colored or clear. Is it possible that it is anodize and the scraping is a required function? Has anyone ever taken a meter to one to check for continuity?

There are some other coatings that do conduct electricity, I will inquire about them when I get to work.

15 years in the aluminum business and I can finally see the end of the tunnel............... It's in China.


--
Jim Mosier

Originally Posted By: jpeck
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Jim,


I just happen to have a Zinsco panel in my garage (took it out of my house) and the bus bar (with the 'plating') is conductive.

If it were not, that could create even greater problems.


--
Jerry Peck
South Florida

Originally Posted By: jpope
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I don’t know what the plating material is, but this close-up shows what happens when the breaker is pulled off.


![](upload://yEEJxjKArD3bPqVcFrK8SHodZHD.jpeg)


--
Jeff Pope
JPI Home Inspection Service
"At JPI, we'll help you look better"
(661) 212-0738

Originally Posted By: rbracklow
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Hi Jeff,


Hey, is this electrical panel and boxes from that old abandoned house siiting on the right hand side down in that canyon going up Hwy 14, just before you get to Aqua Dulce?? ![icon_biggrin.gif](upload://iKNGSw3qcRIEmXySa8gItY6Gczg.gif) ![icon_biggrin.gif](upload://iKNGSw3qcRIEmXySa8gItY6Gczg.gif)

That is quite a sight. Thanks for sharing this with us - send the pictures to Gerry, he can use them for his album.

Ron.


--
The highest compliment my clients can give me, is the referral of their Friends, Family and Business Associates!

NorCal NACHI Chapter Founder and Chairman.

Originally Posted By: jpope
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Actually Ron, this is an occupied home in Canyon Country. These panels are quite common here in Santa Clarita. I come across at least one each week.


Many of the electricians I've consulted with consider these panels worse than FPE panels. Several won't even work on these systems unless it's to replace it. Go figure ![icon_wink.gif](upload://ssT9V5t45yjlgXqiFRXL04eXtqw.gif)


--
Jeff Pope
JPI Home Inspection Service
"At JPI, we'll help you look better"
(661) 212-0738

Originally Posted By: jpeck
This post was automatically imported from our archived forum.



jpope wrote:
Many of the electricians I've consulted with consider these panels worse than FPE panels. Several won't even work on these systems unless it's to replace it. Go figure ![icon_wink.gif](upload://ssT9V5t45yjlgXqiFRXL04eXtqw.gif)


I don't know about WORSE than FPEs, but they sure are not any better.

I put them both in the same pile of junk (and as junk) and agree with your electrician friends.

Asking if Zinsco is better then FPE or if FPE is better than Zinsco is like asking if you want to burn to death or die by fire. I'll take C) neither of the above.


--
Jerry Peck
South Florida

Originally Posted By: jpope
This post was automatically imported from our archived forum.



Quote:
Asking if Zinsco is better then FPE or if FPE is better than Zinsco is like asking if you want to burn to death or die by fire. I'll take C) neither of the above.
![icon_lol.gif](upload://zEgbBCXRskkCTwEux7Bi20ZySza.gif)

I agree Jerry. But it's true, several electricians I've spoken with aren't too concerned with FPE panels. Others, as you so eloquently put it, lump them into the same pile of junk. They do not differentiate one as being better or worse.

I tend to think that FPE has a worse reputation with quite a bit of documented proof.

I consider Douglas Hansen to be quite an authority when it comes to inspection of electrical systems as they pertain to home inspections.

Last year I asked him what his take was on Zinsco Panels. This was his response.

11/04/2003
Quote:
Zinsco is no longer making panels. Replacement breakers are available, though they are quite expensive. Usually electricians will use breakers from a salvage supply when working on a Zinsco panel. They were once very common throughout the Northwest. The basic problem is corrosion at the bus bars, and some of the later breakers weren't very reliable. There have been no product recalls. It is not nearly the horror of something like a Federal Pacific panel.

Douglas Hansen


So I guess I'm getting conflicting information The only consistency is the fact that both Zinsco AND FPE are inherently bad panels.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it


--
Jeff Pope
JPI Home Inspection Service
"At JPI, we'll help you look better"
(661) 212-0738

Originally Posted By: dhoffman
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I might add - don’t miss the obvious: “Labeling and knock outs” that should be filled.



Dennis D. Hoffman


www.hoffmaninspections.com

Originally Posted By: jpope
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You didn’t like that labeling? icon_wink.gif


Lodi. . .

Isn't that way up there past Stockton?


--
Jeff Pope
JPI Home Inspection Service
"At JPI, we'll help you look better"
(661) 212-0738

Originally Posted By: dhoffman
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You got it! - Wine Country!


I had a panel that looked just that the one above - must a a CA thing ![icon_eek.gif](upload://yuxgmvDDEGIQPAyP9sRnK0D0CCY.gif)




--
Dennis D. Hoffman
www.hoffmaninspections.com

Originally Posted By: jpope
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Sweet!


And your recommendation was????????

Beside the obvious labeling and missing knock-outs ![icon_biggrin.gif](upload://iKNGSw3qcRIEmXySa8gItY6Gczg.gif)


--
Jeff Pope
JPI Home Inspection Service
"At JPI, we'll help you look better"
(661) 212-0738

Originally Posted By: rbracklow
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Dennis,


Do I have to remind you that the Napa/Sonoma area is THE WINE COUNTRY!! ![icon_eek.gif](upload://yuxgmvDDEGIQPAyP9sRnK0D0CCY.gif) ![icon_eek.gif](upload://yuxgmvDDEGIQPAyP9sRnK0D0CCY.gif)

I hear that in your area they make good raisins though!!

Ron.


--
The highest compliment my clients can give me, is the referral of their Friends, Family and Business Associates!

NorCal NACHI Chapter Founder and Chairman.

Originally Posted By: dhoffman
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Ron,


You need to check your map - Fresno - Bakersfield is raisin country ![icon_lol.gif](upload://zEgbBCXRskkCTwEux7Bi20ZySza.gif)

Lodi is an up and coming Wine Appellation


Now, back to panels, I said it needed to be labeled and if I remember correctly, some wiring needed further attention. The bus bar was not scorched or damaged. I think the outside cover was also coming off and needed service.


--
Dennis D. Hoffman
www.hoffmaninspections.com