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.
There is truth to it; he wasn't blowing smoke:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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