Federal Pacific electrical service panel

I recently had to have my central air unit replaced. The HVAC contractor said the Federal Pacific service entrance I have (house was built in 1970) is notorious for breakers not tripping on an overload condition and causing fires. He suggested I get it replaced. I'm inclined to think if the thing has failed in 33 years, it's probably OK but it got me wondering. Are these service entrances faulty by design? Should I play it safe and have it replaced? I have no idea what the cost would be but after shelling out $1900 for a new A/C unit, I'd hate to take another big hit on the home repair budget this soon.
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Lee M. wrote:

There is truth to it; he wasn't blowing smoke:
http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpepanel.htm
You *can* replace individual 2-pole breakers with brand new units as one solution.
Disclaimer: Check the UL-listing on any new brekaers to see if they are listed as suitable for your panel.
Jim
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The guy is right on target. Federal Pacific was a cheap "contractor grade" breaker system. They have 2 failure modes. One is because of the method used to plug the breaker into the buss (stab-lok). Sometimes they don't make good contact and overheat. The other is that the breakers don't trip during a fault. If you compare their equipment with competitors you will see how mickey mouse they are.
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On 01 Sep 2003, George wrote:

Then why hasn't it been pulled from use via a mandatory recall?
How can it stay out there in use if this is all known "fact"?
What does UL have to say about the issue, I'm assuming their initials are on the load centers, no?
Sorry, but this stinks of "urban legend" as told by contractors selling rival equipment.
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TP

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wrote in message

Here's the basic part of the "legend" http://www.prospec.net/federal_pacific.htm but I honestly think many electricians were doing us a favor by not having faith in Federal Pacific.
Bill
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This is Turtle.
Reply Below at the bull posted.

If you knew anything about electrical work like you have claimed, you would know FPE went belly up 10 to15 years ago and told UL to cram it.

All breaker companys will tell you that if your breaker are over 20 years old. Your suppose to change them out. Who are you going to call when your suppose have change them out for being old already. If you figure out what to do on this one you can work on Enron customers and solve their problems too.

UL , did stop putting their stamp on them but UL have nothing to do with recalling a breaker for a bankrupt company. They just approve breaker as being good at the time of the sale but not for 40 years later.

Yes , Tom their breaker stink but who are you going to call , Ghost Busters to revive the bankrupt company. The last time i checked on them. there was a 1 in a 5,000 that will fail in the close possion.

Yes, Tom You need to read up on them before you start judging dead horses.
TURTLE
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wrote:

FPE's Canadian division os going strong, yo can buy new panels and breakers today, although they are of a somewhat new design (still stab-lok though). Many Canadian electricians still use them, becuase they are the cheapest I guess.
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Last October we moved into a 35 year old home in the central Ohio area (Westerville). The home inspector pointed out the Federal pacific electric panel. His comment was that we should have an electrician look at it because even though they meet code, there have been some problems. I did some research and found the info mentioned in the other messages. In addition, the panel only provided about 60 amps in 5 circuits for general lighting/outlets, and the entire box was rusting and connections were corroded. I found out later that when it rained water was leaking into the panel from INSIDE the main service entrance cable and dripping down the main bus inside the box.
Based on all of this, around March I decided to replace the panel with a SquareD Q0 series 200A/42 space box. A friend of ours in the same area needed their entrance cable on their house replaced, and did a panel upgrade at the same time by an electrican, took them about 3 hours and the cost was about $1,100.
Our city allows the homeowner to do their own electrical work as long as it's inspected. I've done computer network wiring for 15 years, and some residential electrical work, but nothing quite this large. After a month or so of research, checking with the local inspector (a great resource for questions), I decided to do it myself. I purchased the permit and the city provided the new meter base. I ended up getting most of the items from Home Depot. On the day I planned to do the work, I had the electric division come out, cut the overhead feed lines, pull the meter. I then did the work (about 6 hours). The inspector came out, checked everything (took about an hour), then called the crew to come back and hook the overhead lines to the new feed lines down the outside of my house, and reattach and seal the meter. The total cost in parts was about $445.
Before I get flamed, I am NOT trying to imply that having a licensed electrican do the work is a rip off or anything. I have some experience, did lots of research, and felt comfortable that I could do this. I also had a basic understanding of all the "whys" behind the requirements (grounding methods, wire sizes, etc.) . If you don't know what you're doing, this stuff can cause damage, injury, or death.
Mike O.

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This is Turtle.
You can test these breaker out by putting load on them to see them pop. A good electrician can do this very easily if he wants to and see them pop. If they pop one time they are alright. The bad ones will not pop at all and can be located very easily.
When in dought. Whip out your bilfold and replace them. Now testing does pretty good.
TURTLE
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