Question? Just ask us!
Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
InspectAPedia ® Home
ELECTRICAL INSPECTION, DIAGNOSIS, REPAIR
AFCIs ARC FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS
ALUMINUM WIRING HAZARDS & REPAIRS
AMPS VOLTS DETERMINATION
AMPERAGE MEASUREMENT METHODS
BOOKSTORE - ELECTRICAL
Classified CIRCUIT BREAKER WARNING
CORROSION in ELECTRICAL PANELS
CUTLER HAMMER PANEL FIRE
DEFINITIONS of ELECTRICAL TERMS
DIRECTORY OF ELECTRICIANS
DMM Digital Multimeter HOW TO USE
ELECTRIC PANEL AMPACITY
ELECTRIC PANEL INSPECTION
ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION PANELS
ELECTRICAL GROUND SYSTEM INSPECTION
FEDERAL PACIFIC FPE HAZARDS
GFCI PROTECTION,Testing GFCIs AFCIs
Hertz - Definitions of KHz MHz GHz THz
LIGHTING, EXTERIOR GUIDE
LIGHTING, INTERIOR GUIDE
LOW VOLTAGE BUILDING WIRING
MURRAY SIEMENS Recall
PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER SYSTEMS
PUSHMATIC - BULLDOG PANELS
RUST in ELECTRICAL PANELS
SAFETY for ELECTRICAL INSPECTORS
SE CABLE SIZES vs AMPS
SIEMENS MURRAY Recall
UNDERGROUND SERVICE LATERALS
VOLTS / AMPS MEASUREMENT EQUIP
VOLTAGE MEASUREMENT METHODS
ZINSCO SYLVANIA ELECTRICAL PANELS
This article explains the burden of proof that FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breaker and electrical panels is a real hazard not just a theoretical one. This document explains the latent electric shock and fire hazards associated with Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok® electric panels and circuit breakers. Federal Pacific Electric "Stab-Lok® " service panels and breakers are dangerous and can fail, leading to electrical fires.
Replacement FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breakers are unlikely to reduce the failure risk of this equipment. We recommend that residential FPE Stab-Lok® electrical panels be replaced entirely or the entire panel bus assembly be replaced, regardless of FPE model number or FPE year of manufacture. We do not sell circuit breakers nor any other products.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
Readers of this document should also see FPE FIRES: Failure Reports and The Federal Pacific Stab-Lok® Electric Panel Hazard Website.
The problem is that some 240-Volt FPE circuit breakers and possibly also some 120-Volt units simply may not work. That is the breaker may fail to trip or even when physically switched "off" manually some breakers may remain "on" internally, continuing to conduct current! These serious failures have been tested and shown to occur at very high rates - much higher than other circuit breaker failures in general.
But identifying one of these defects can lead to an argument and in some cases, even lawsuits! For example, a knowledgeable inspector or contractor observes one of these panels and recommends replacement. An owner or another inspector, unaware of the background, refuses to cooperate, and insists there is "no problem." Who's right?
There is indeed "a problem." FPE panels and circuit breakers are a "safety-related defect." In some conditions the equipment may not provide the safety protection (against fire) that was intended.
This defect is associated with FPE panels and circuit breakers manufactured in the 1970's and possibly extending to current equipment. Testing was performed in 1982-3 by Wright Malta Corporation for the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
What actually happens to cause unsafe conditions? Testing performed on FPE 2-pole (240V) circuit breakers indicated that in some overload conditions, particularly when one pole of the breaker is overloaded, the circuit breaker will not trip. Some tests showed that as many as 65% of the circuit breakers would malfunction.
Once this malfunction has occurred the breaker is "locked" and it will not trip under any circumstances, creating an even more serious fire hazard.
Are there real-world instances in which a current overload occurs on just a single "leg" of a 240-Volt circuit? Sure. At least some clothes dryers, air conditioning circuits, and electric ranges split the 240-V delivered to the appliance to run individual components such as a dryer drum motor or individual heater elements.
Multiwire branch circuits which share a common neutral wire also serve different loads in a building. Main breakers in the panel split power to the two panel buses. We have received many field reports with examples of failures to trip for such equipment.
To get technical depth and citations for proving your case, see:
2004 FPE Update: St. Louis ASHI Seminar including: Hazard Summary & Independent Tests confirms Stab-Lok® failures
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
No FAQs have been posted for this page. Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
Questions & answers or comments about the performance & relative safety of Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok® circuit breakers & electrical panels.
Ask a Question or Enter Search Terms in the InspectApedia search box just below.
Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.