Dangerous electrical panels?

We recently received a flyer from an electrician. It says:
ELECTRICAL PANEL SAFE? A Potential HAZARD could exist at your home
AT RISK: Federal Pacific, Zinsco, X.O Style Square D, Pushmatic, Challenger, Crouse Hinds, Sylvania
We have a Federal Pacific panel. My brother thinks this means our panel is unsafe. I think this electrician is just trying to scare up business. His list seems to be just about every brand of panel ever made.
What do you think? Thank you in advance for all replies. -- Whenever I hear or think of the song "Great green gobs of greasy grimey gopher guts" I imagine my cat saying; "That sounds REALLY, REALLY good. I'll have some of that!"
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On Thu, 23 Apr 2009 00:56:56 -0700, Daniel Prince

Sure it is possible a hazard exists. Why does your brother think your panel is unsafe? Is it wet? rusting? sparks? shocks? Made in China?
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*Federal Pacific does have a reputation for faulty circuit breakers. Sometimes they don't trip when there is a short circuit. I have experienced this myself a few times. I have also found with the FPE two pole and three pole breakers when you shut them off not all poles will open. Home buyers are also aware of the problems and hysteria associated with Federal Pacific so you may want to consider an upgrade at some point.
I seem to recall that there were some problems with the old style Square D.
There is one style of Crouse-Hinds circuit breaker which I have found to have a high rate of failure, but have not associated any hazard with it.
I haven't heard about any problems with the rest.
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Federal Pacific has known problems with certain models. I'm sure all the manufacturers have had issues at one time or another, and probably had law suits as well. I am a licensed electrician in down state NY. FPE was from Newark, NJ, so my area is full of their panels. Most contractors offered customers a high end panel, or an FPE, if they wanted to save a few bucks. IMO. if the panel is in good physical shape, and the service is adequate, I wouldn't lose sleep over it. Considering the thousands of them around my area, and in 37 years in the business, I've never seen or heard of a fire caused by one, it's probably OK
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replying to RBM, Jojo wrote: Just because YOU never heard of this,problem??? Did u ever see or hear Carbon monoxide? ..but it kills you right?..you are making,a decision on your small limited knowledge. .which is a ego thought. You,are not a smart educated electrician..you are an,apprentice
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On Sunday, April 24, 2016 at 10:44:05 AM UTC-4, Jojo wrote:

First, learn how to type before you start berating people. It's really hard to take such a mess of words, poor punctuation and grammar errors seriously.
Second, can *you* "see or hear" carbon monoxide? I can't.
Third, the post you responded to is from 2009. Please try to stay current.
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Fourth, RBM is one of the most knowledgeable posters here when it comes to electricity. Whatever this disagreement is about, there's a pretty good chance that RBM is completely correct and JoJo is FOS.
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I don't know if they were all defective, but I had an FPE at my last house lose one side explosively. It was more inconvenient than dangerous I just lost half of the 120 and all of the 220 until we got it replaced. I have another FPE that I bought 2nd hand, that we used as a temporary in my shop until it could be wired. I worked with it enough to say it doesn't have the sturdy feel of a Square D & the breakers are poorly thought out and executed, + the buss bars are flimsy (likely the cause of the problem in my first sentence.) Still we welded in the shop, used a 4 post lift, & used good sized wood working tools until the contractor could get around to trenching & wiring to do it properly, all on that old FPE on a 100' 220 extension cord.
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http://www.philadelphiaelectric.com/recall__federal_pacific_breaker.htm
That's one of many interesting sites found via a google search with the words "recall federal pacific electrical". Do the same google search and you'll find more info.
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Daniel Prince wrote:

FPE submitted fraudulent test information to UL. FPE was sold to Reliance and they reported the fraud. UL then revoked the listing for much of the FPE line. The problems were probably for equipment manufactured around 1965-1980. The Consumer Product Safety Commission did preliminary tests on FPE breakers with disturbing results. The CPSC closed it's investigation - one reason probably was that breakers are not a "consumer product".
http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpepanel.htm has a lot of information of FPE, much of it derived from the investigation by the CPSC. Two pole breakers may not trip (can jam and never trip) if the current on both poles is not the same (like ground fault). (Service disconnect size breakers were not tested.) Another problem - single pole breakers may never trip at 135% of rating. Also bus failures which cannot be seen as they are developing without panel disassembly.
Another source: http://www.codecheck.com/cc/pdf/electrical/FPE_Article_Nov2003.pdf includes additional problems with FPE panels, including the bus problems.
There was a class action suit in NJ in 2005. Haven't heard results.
FPE is currently sold in Canada.
=================Some info on Zinsco. (I havent read it.) Sylvania bought Zinsco. http://www.inspect-ny.com/electric/Zinsco.htm http://www.mikeholt.com/forum/Forum1/HTML/005092.html
--
bud--

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On Thu, 23 Apr 2009 00:56:56 -0700, Daniel Prince

Some close friends of mine had their house burn about a year and a half ago. The initial event was a short in an attic fan (probably a result of years of vibration, but it was too badly burned to be sure). But the FPE breaker in their FPE panel didn't trip. The investigator removed 3 other breakers from the panel (which was in the basement and not damaged by the fire) and sent them to a lab for testing. I read the test results. The test consists of applying an overcurrent to the breaker and waiting 5 minutes to see if it trips. If it doesn't, the breaker is allowed to cool, then the test is repeated at a higher current. The breakers were all 20 amps. One tripped at 23 amps (about right). The second tripped at 47 amps. The third did not trip at the test limit of 50 amps. The investigator said he has seen many electrical fires resulting from failure of the FPE breakers to trip.
My friends were lucky. No one was hurt and they had good insurance coverage. They were home and detected the fire quickly, but the damage to their home was still extensive. They have only recently finished the rebuilding and refurnishing, a year and a half later. My buddy tells everyone who will listen 2 things. If you have an FPE panel, get it replaced. Now. And take pictures of everything you own. Open every drawer and spread out the contents and take the shot. Same with cupboards, closets, etc. Then burn them to a Cd and stick it in your safe deposit box.
I don't have an FPE panel, but I followed his advice on the pictures.
Paul F.
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On Thu, 23 Apr 2009 22:09:46 -0400, Paul Franklin

Breakers?? Who needs BREAKERS? Fuses are pretty well fail safe and I'm in no hurry to replace my "amalgamated electric" fuse panel

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