Consider everything in your home that runs on electricity: the lights, computers, televisions, chargers, refrigerators, ovens, washing machines and dryers, heat, hot water, and any number of other items you use on a daily basis. Each of these devices is powered by an electrical panel, the hub of your entire home’s electrical workings. An electricity source from outside your home enters your panel, and circuit breakers on the panel distribute it to the respective outlets within the home. Now imagine if something happened to cause your electrical panel to malfunction and prevent these devices and appliances from working, or worse, spark a fire in your home. It has happened before and can happen to you, especially if you have uninspected Federal Pacific panels made by, who else other than, the Federal Pacific Electric Company.
Why Checking Your Electrical Panel is Important
Outdated and potentially dangerous panels are installed in millions of homes today, and are at risk for malfunctioning or causing damage. Because of manufacturing or design problems, Federal Pacific panels specifically can be prone to certain issues that could affect the electricity and safety of your home. Federal Pacific Electric Company was a popular circuit breaker panel manufacturer from the 1950s to 1980s. During that time, millions of these panels were installed in homes or buildings, but over time, experts realized they were hazardous to the structures they were in. Federal Pacific panels can operate properly for years or decades, but suddenly without warning, can overheat and spark a fire, putting your home, possessions, pets, family, and self at risk. In a 2005 class action lawsuit in New Jersey, the State Court ruled that the Federal Pacific Electric Company “violated the Consumer Fraud Act because FPE knowingly and purposefully distributed circuit breakers which were not tested to meet UL standards,” yet, these panels are still in some homes. If you do not know who manufactured the electrical panel in your home or business, it is important you find out and schedule regular inspections to make sure it is safely operating and not putting you and your building at risk.
Reasons Federal Pacific Panels are Not Safe
Typically, if there’s an increase in the electrical current within your home, a power surge will occur. Most panel’s breakers are designed to fail safely in the instance of these power surges, but this may not always happen in Federal Pacific panels. According to one report, some Federal Pacific Electric panels failed to operate properly nearly 60% of the time during power surges. If a panel fails to trip, an electrical surge occurs in the panel which cannot be stopped manually. The panel could then overheat and catch fire, causing damage to the home and its occupants. Problems with Federal Pacific panels can have many causes derived from inadequate manufacturing, materials or design. Below are some of the reasons these panels are not safe.
Not meeting safety codes: Just because you have an electrical panel that was approved when your house was built, does not mean it is safe for use now. Federal Pacific panels would not meet today’s safety codes and would not be authorized to be sold to the public for several reasons. For example, wires in the panel box could be crowded, bus bars may be hazardously spring-mounted, breakers in the down position could still be active, and the split-bus breakers could no longer meet safety codes. All of these features could cause risks to the function of your electrical panel. For example, wires in the panel box could be crowded, bus bars may be hazardously spring-mounted, breakers in the down position could still be active, and the split-bus breakers could no longer meet safety codes. All of these features could cause risks to the function of your electrical panel.
Design flaws: Federal Pacific panels were also made with design flaws compared to other types of panels made during the same time. Experts have determined that breakers in these panels may trip when the dead front cover is removed, have loose connections, be jammed and overcrowded, or easily split.
Manufacturing defects: Materials used to construct Federal Pacific panels may also be poor quality. Since these panels have been in homes for decades, those still in use could be less and less safe and prone to malfunction as time goes on.
If you have a house built between the 50s and 80s or otherwise believe you may have a Federal Pacific electrical panel, it is important you have it inspected immediately before it causes damage to your home possessions or family. If you do have a Federal Pacific panel, an electrician will likely install a new panel meeting current safety codes.
With regular maintenance by a licensed professional, modern-day electrical panels can function effectively and safely for 30 years or more – call Wave Electric today to learn more about how you can keep your home safe with your current electrical panel.
Also, check out Ismypanelsafe.com