Is Your Circuit Breaker Panel a Fire Hazard?

circuit breaker fire

If your home was built before the 90’s, you may be in danger of an electrical fire from your circuit breaker. Though they were wildly popular during their respective heydays, Zinsco and Federal Pacific electrical panels are known to have defects that open your home up to possible fires. The hazards lie in faulty breakers that fail, overload, and combust.

The breakers inside a service panel guard your home against serious electrical problems and play a vital role in protecting your home. They do so by preventing circuit overload, short circuits, and external power surges from coming into the panel. Essentially, when too much power goes into the panel, the breaker turns it off to prevent overloads and fires.

Since they were some of the most popular breakers for homes built in the latter half of the 20th century, Federal Pacific and Zinsco panels were built into most homes built between 1950 and 1990. But recent studies show a major flaw in their design. These products are prone to failures and electrical fires. Experts say that Federal Pacific and Zinsco breakers can appear to work fine for years but can suddenly over-current or short circuit. That’s when they can overheat and become fire hazards. The Consumer Product Safety Commission discovered in an investigation that these breakers were responsible for an estimated 2,800 fires annually. Their investigation also showed that as many as 1 in 4 panels are defective in this way.

Despite several legal attempts, various levels of red tape prevented an official recall of these hazardous products, leaving them in millions of American homes.

So what does all this mean for you, the homeowner? In short, it means if you have a Federal Pacific breaker in your home, you need to take steps to make sure you’re safe from the potential hazards it presents. If you’re unsure if you have one, Federal Pacific products usually have the logo and/or name on the side. If you look inside, it’ll also have the name “Stab-Lok” printed in the center of the panel.  Zinsco panels, conversely, are easily identifiable by their prominent branding on the front of the panel.

If any of that sounds like what you have in your home, it’s time to get an electrician to replace your circuit breaker panel ASAP before a fire breaks out. Wave Electric can get you set up with new hardware before you have to worry about a malfunction. Call us before you have to call the fire department.

Call Wave Electric today for electrical service in Tinton Falls!

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