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Thread: Federal Pacific Electrical panel issues

  1. #1
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    Federal Pacific Electrical panel issues

    Have known there were issues with FPE ( Federal Pacific Electric) breaker panels for years.
    Last night the news ( have not found that story yet) had another story about the sleeping danger in a lot of homes .
    I have had a few calls from older neighbors asking me to see what they have...luckily, the 5 panels on our property are GE.
    I changed my moms FPE panel out in the 90's after a few issues showed up.

    https://youtu.be/-bFf9dSvqxo

    The typical response '' I have had mine for 50 years and no problems'' has bitten a few folks, or might as it only takes one bad electrical fault. Not trying to scare anybody, but something to think about. Not a cheap fix...but I changed my moms for peace of mind

    In Houston area, the use of Sylvania/Zinsco breakers and aluminum circuit wiring in the 70's had us going to fire calls and trouble calls after a lightning storm with a lot of holes blown in sheetrock and burnt panels. We used to shudder when troubleshooting customer issues when seeing the green and red Zinsco breakers staring at us.Aluminum wiring wasn't terminated at breakers and outlets/fixtures correctly as no one really gave it a lot of thought.Another issue in itself
    http://www.ismypanelsafe.com/zinsco_damage.aspx

    Back to FPE:


    http://inspectapedia.com/fpe/FPE_Fir..._to_Happen.php

    http://www.ismypanelsafe.com/fpe.aspx


    http://inspectapedia.com/fpe/FPE_History.php

    FPE doesn't exist as the company it was, there still is a company with the name Federal Pacific, but not a direct tie in...confusing.
    Steve Henson
    SABMWRA MOA Club#62's Flat Fixer/ current forum moderator
    It's not the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away-D.Dillon/G. Strait

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    Yes it has been know for years about these two brands , plus push-a-matic is a three one. Now days, home inspector are telling home owners before a house is sold. These panels should be replaced. This is all good.

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    #81822 bp@sr9's Avatar
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    Have seen many failed breakers thru the years. The brands mentioned have become notorious (and others). Many reasons i.e. moisture, particulate accumulation , environmental issues. These things don't last forever. Until recently, residential grade circuit breakers were not 'switch rated' that is, if you turned it on and off too many(nebulous) times, it is no longer effective! If you have a house with any of these discontinued brands, you might consider the older wiring to be problematical also. Hire a licensed electrician for advice. b

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    Quote Originally Posted by bp@sr9 View Post
    Have seen many failed breakers thru the years. The brands mentioned have become notorious (and others). Many reasons i.e. moisture, particulate accumulation , environmental issues. These things don't last forever. Until recently, residential grade circuit breakers were not 'switch rated' that is, if you turned it on and off too many(nebulous) times, it is no longer effective! If you have a house with any of these discontinued brands, you might consider the older wiring to be problematical also. Hire a licensed electrician for advice. b
    Have seen people,do it them self, when they do not know what they are doing and make it a bigger mess. SAFETY FIRST AND FOLLOW THE RULES. Your last statement is VERY true.

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    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    OK, since we're talking electric panels, what about the compact single and 2-pole breakers? They're half the size of a traditional breaker.

    While I'm using them, I'm a bit leery about the potential heat build-up. Are they a good idea, or bad?
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    They are call waffer breakers, if you use a name brand there are ok.. I never use less then 50% of the space for waffers. Buss bars MUST BE clean and dry. No burnt marks.

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    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EUGENE View Post
    They are call waffer breakers, if you use a name brand there are ok.. I never use less then 50% of the space for waffers. Buss bars MUST BE clean and dry. No burnt marks.
    Thanks.........I've always been a bit suspicious when things get smaller and lighter, but handle the same load.

    However, I should be more concerned about how / why the electrician wired a 60A 2-pole breaker to the circuit that feeds my second floor receptacles and lights. Somewhere, I know, there's another panel/fuse box, but heck if I can find it.
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    Registered User AKsuited's Avatar
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    Ignorance was bliss...

    I have one of those FPE panels, which I assume accepts only FPE breakers? It's really the breakers that are the issue? Can another brand of breaker replace FPE breakers?

    I rewired my whole house, which had a newly installed Federal Pacific Electric service panel. It looks like I'll be talking to an electrician soon.

    Thanks for the tip.

    Harry

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    Registered User AKsuited's Avatar
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    https://www.angieslist.com/articles/...anels-safe.htm

    The FPE panel in my house is more than 30 years old. I guess one way of looking at it is that it doesn't owe me anything. No circuits have overloaded. I suppose I was smart to have replaced an electric clothes dryer with a gas one, and also replaced an electric stove/range with a gas one. I did that within a year of buying this house.

    Harry

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    FUKENGRUVEN SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    And here I was planning on a good night's sleep......
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    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKsuited View Post
    Ignorance was bliss...

    I have one of those FPE panels, which I assume accepts only FPE breakers? It's really the breakers that are the issue? Can another brand of breaker replace FPE breakers?

    I rewired my whole house, which had a newly installed Federal Pacific Electric service panel. It looks like I'll be talking to an electrician soon.


    Thanks for the tip.

    Harry
    The problem is there are no true new FPE's being produced, some brand may cross over, been awhile since I even thought of looking for one. Hear you can find them on EBAY but I wouldn't .
    The buss bars the breakers stab into are also suspect .

    Yeah, environmental conditions just make it worse...damp locations and salty fog along the coast was my headache
    Steve Henson
    SABMWRA MOA Club#62's Flat Fixer/ current forum moderator
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  12. #12
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bp@sr9 View Post
    Have seen many failed breakers thru the years. The brands mentioned have become notorious (and others). Many reasons i.e. moisture, particulate accumulation , environmental issues. These things don't last forever. Until recently, residential grade circuit breakers were not 'switch rated' that is, if you turned it on and off too many(nebulous) times, it is no longer effective! If you have a house with any of these discontinued brands, you might consider the older wiring to be problematical also. Hire a licensed electrician for advice. b
    Welcome to the forum bp@sr9

    How many times have I seen small businesses using residential panels use breakers as on/off switches for lights, signage, kitchens and such.

    There are several late 70's US Homes subdivisions built in the Houston/Pasadena area with Zinsco panels AND Alcoa Romex...and the original CVPC? plastic plumbing....RUN! My sister owns one as she bought before I was in the business to say don't and that stuff was new and cost effective.
    She had it all reworked about five years ago as a retirement "gift" to herself.
    Steve Henson
    SABMWRA MOA Club#62's Flat Fixer/ current forum moderator
    It's not the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away-D.Dillon/G. Strait

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    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
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    All good info Steve. I'm not familiar with the FP panel trouble. Here, in the early 70's, there was aluminum wire (Romex) and back-stabed outlets (devices) that became the problem as things got older.
    OM
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    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akbeemer View Post
    And here I was planning on a good night's sleep......
    It is kind of an OH GREAT moment for folks. I had not dealt with one in awhile.
    Reading Harry's link from Angie's list comments has only a few saying Chicken Little. The guy who tried to test the breaker and burnt his screwdrivers tip smooth off had me then

    The other guy who said just replace the breakers and be done as a panel is a panel is kinda in denial.

    Yeah, the push- in easy back-stabbed outlets and switches were quick to install, but until the screw tightening versions came out, I still used the screw terminals on the older ones. Just didn't think those were a good solid connection. Especially with aluminum!
    Steve Henson
    SABMWRA MOA Club#62's Flat Fixer/ current forum moderator
    It's not the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away-D.Dillon/G. Strait

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    Aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by henzilla View Post
    It is kind of an OH GREAT moment for folks. I had not dealt with one in awhile.
    Reading Harry's link from Angie's list comments has only a few saying Chicken Little. The guy who tried to test the breaker and burnt his screwdrivers tip smooth off had me then

    The other guy who said just replace the breakers and be done as a panel is a panel is kinda in denial.

    Yeah, the push- in easy back-stabbed outlets and switches were quick to install, but until the screw tightening versions came out, I still used the screw terminals on the older ones. Just didn't think those were a good solid connection. Especially with aluminum!
    Bolt on breakers are for commercial use and more expensive. Aluminum wires MUST be terminated correctly.

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