Federal Pacific Electric Failure Reports
170+ Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Panel Fires and other Failures
FPE FAILURE FIELD REPORTS - CONTENTS: More than 170 recent field reports of Federal Pacific Electric FPE Stab-Lok® ™ & Federal Pioneer electrical equipment failures (and a few "no problem found" field reports)
POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about actual FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breaker failures or panel falures occurring in FPE installations in homes or other buildings.
InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.
Field reports of FPE Stab-Lok® failures:
This document provides anecdotal field reports of Federal Pacific FPE Stab-Lok® equipment fires, overheating, trip-failures, burnups and other dangerous failures as they have been sent to InspectApedia or to Daniel Friedman.
Consumer Note: replacement circuit breakers are unlikely to reduce the failure risk of this equipment.
FPE Stab-Lok® Breaker or Panel FAILURE REPORTS - Federal No-Trips: Anecdotal FPE Failure Email Reports from Electricians, Home Inspectors, Building Owners, Others
Readers are cautioned that these are anecdotal field comments and while some
of the reports are from electricians or home inspectors, the expertise of people reporting and their ability to know for sure just
what went wrong in their electrical panels varies. To add your own report an electrical problem with this equipment see REPORT YOUR FAILURE.
Below are excerpts from email received by the author, indicating FPE equipment failures in various locations.
Accuracy Warning: the reports
below include observations from people with a wide range of expertise, from none to expert. No on-site confirmation of these
reports was made except that some correspondents contributed FPE Stab-Lok® equipment for further testing by Dr. Aronstein.
An example of the importance of using an expert to determine the cause of electrical failures is illustrated by Roger Hankey's picture of a failed FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breaker shown at left. Unlike the FPE breaker failure shown at page top (Aronstein), the breaker at left is demonstrates what was most likely a breaker-connection overheat, not a breaker no-trip failure.
Notice that the red wire connected to the breaker overheated close to the breaker but is not so overheated at its top-most portion.
Here we provide field reports from licensed electricians, inspectors, and homeowners who report problems attributed to FPE Stab-Lok® equipment. At FPE FIRE & FAILURE PHOTOS we include significant fire reports involving FPE Stab-Lok® equipment.
People who have FPE field failure cases to report and other professionals and inspectors
who can contribute text descriptions, photographs or actual failed equipment are
invited to CONTACT the author.
2017: electric water heater plug burn-up - 2017/03/01, by private email
a reader described finding that the wall plug for an electric water heater had completely burned-up without tripping a circuit breaker.
We don't know for sure the underlying issues here as there could be several causes for a burned-up wall plug at an electric water heater, including improper electrical wiring, improper electrical circuit sizing, improper electrical circuit overcurrent protection, and improper wall plug wire and plug selection for this water heater.
This was a Ruud 240VAC electric water heater whose upper and lower heating elements are rated at 4500W with a total wattage of the same figure.
After the reader included photographs of the burned-up wall plug we suggested checking for one of the common problem-brands of electrical panels such as FPE, Zinsco and others whose breakers may fail to trip in response to overcurrent - a possible explanation for a burned wall plug such as shown here.
We also suggested checking for aluminum electrical wiring.
Additional photos of this case are shown below.
[Click to enlarge any image]
2016: possible FPE cause of fatal fire in Louisiana - 2016/06/29, also cited at FPE FAILURE FIRE PHOTOS, we received private email about a fatality ascribed to FPE; no details have been provided.
2016: high cost of small FPE Fire in Massachusetts - 2016/04/12, Rod said:
We recently had a FPE panel meltdown and fire at our house here in MA.
Fortunately the Fire Department responded quickly and we were home at the time of the fire. Our house is not that old... built in 1988 but it did have this panel and it was clear that it overheated and malfunctioned. Quick response and the right decisions saved our house but it was minutes away from exploding and causing a full home loss. The fire suffered from oxygen deprivation as our house in very tight and we did not open any doors to feed it and the fire department was there within 10 minutes to knock it down.
However, we did experience heavy smoke damage and were forced to move out of the house while repairs were made. We were out of our house for nearly three months and although we are now back in the house it is not fully restore or are we made whole again at this point. I would STRONGLY RECOMMEND that people replace the FPE panels with a new and high quality replacement. The risk is simply too high. Had our fire happened and hour earlier or an hour later we would have lost everything!! - Rod
Thank you for the important field report, Rod. If you can send details, photos, fire reports, to me by email (use the page bottom CONTACT link) that would be very valuable; at InspectAPedia.com technical content contributors are by default kept anonymous unless you (they) want to be identified.
Your note points out that even a comparatively small fire can be terribly costly and disruptive to people's lives. Thank goodness no one was injured.
I agree completely, as do other people who understand the FPE hazard, that all electrical panels of the stab-lok design should be replaced.
2014: Connecticut Electric UBI Circuit Breaker Failures Report: Excerpting from private email from reader E.K. to D Friedman, Reader E sent information on FPE and UBI circuit breaker performance to the management board of a condominium where FPE Stab-Lok circuit breakers had been replaced with Connecticut Electric's UBI circuit breaker, 5/16-20/2014:
[Click to enlarge any image]
Reader E letter to board of condominium N 5/16/2014
I live with an elderly person who at times has a tendency to overload the electrical circuit in the kitchen by simultaneously running the microwave, electric kettle, and toaster - all which use a large amount of wattage. In my previous home under such conditions the safety circuit breaker would trip and avoid potential catastrophe.
But here in Northgate Gardens, a large condominium complex in Waltham MA. I noticed that even when the current consumption was more than double than the 20 Ampere limit of the circuit breaker, the breaker wouldn't trip.
This situation scared me because it could easily cause a fire. I’m not electrician, but as electronics engineer I decided to find a replacement for this malfunctioning 20 Ampere breaker and this led me to a very important discovery.
The electrical panels in every unit in
the condominium complex were made by Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Corporation – which was a very popular manufacturer of electrical panels and breakers from the mid-1950 until the early 1980’s.
Around 1970 it was discovered that many FPE breakers malfunctioned under heavy load conditions and caused fires in many homes. In the late 70's Federal Pacific Electric lost their UL safety approval, and the company ceased to exist shortly after that.
See some news clips on FPE disasters here:
I later discovered that in 2004
[Condominium complex N] management did replace the breakers in all units (including my own unit).
So, why has my new kitchen breaker never tripped even under severe load? Are these new breakers faulty?
I decided to research this, the new breakers are marketed by a tiny company in Indiana by the name “Connecticut-Electric” under the label UBI (Unique Breakers Inc.) the company is specialized in aftermarket replacement breakers of obsolete products based on the original design and specifications, the breakers are made in China.
The price of the UBI breaker is about ten times the price of a common breaker ($50 Vs.. $5). There isn’t much written about UBI breakers, I did however find one recent credible report of independent testing that found two failures out of 12 UBI breakers tested – this is a 16% failure rate! I attached an excerpt of this report. [Although the sample size is too small to assert a high level of statistical confidence - Ed.]
I know for sure that at least one out of my seven breakers in the panel was faulty; I never tested the other six. Assuming the other six were OK this is still 14% failure rate!
The typical industry no-trip breaker failure rate is less than 0.01% (one in 10,000). And so I have to conclude that our 2004 replacement breakers can not be trusted and they put the entire complex in jeopardy of an electrical fire. Replacement of the entire electrical panel in every unit with a modern reliable and safer design must be implemented.
In my other condo we also had the same type of electrical panels; back in 2003 we had a fire inside a wall of one of the units which caused extensive damage, we were fortunate that no one was injured. As a Board member I wanted to know the cause of the fire.
The fire department report blamed electrical wiring but could not pinpoint the specific reason. Based upon my research and discovery here in
[Condominium complex N] I know the reason for the fire. I contacted the Board and management of my other condo and, with the approval of the association layer we decided that since this is a safety issue we could require every owner to replace his electrical panel within a year. The common areas panels would be replaced ASAP by the Association.
Management provided us with a handful of quotes to replace the 100 Ampere panels in all 60 units of the complex (and the panels of the common areas). Per unit the prices ranged form as high as $850 to as low as $335 (2011 price), including parts and labor. We checked the credentials of the low bidder and they were good. The Board gave the owners the option of using electrician chosen by the Association or of using their own licensed electrician (and probably pay more). Part of our contract with the electrician was to inspect every panel to verify that it was indeed replaced properly, since a few owners claimed they had already changed their panels on the advice of their home inspector when they purchased the unit.
We announced the news to the owners in the Annual meeting and followed up with a memo sent to every owner. We had full support of the owners and the project was a real success. I have already replaced my
[Condominium complex N] home panel as I’m sure a few other owners have. However, the electrical panels in most units, and perhaps the common area, are jeopardizing all their and other units due to the faulty breakers.
I would be happy to answer any questions that any Trustee may have - they can feel free to email their question to me. The Board could contact Dr. Aronstein PhD who wrote the report and was involved in this subject for many years; I believe he has the most knowledge and expertise on the subject. If they want to communicate with the manager of my other condo who was involved with the replacement project, I can arrange that as well.
I hope the Board will make an expeditious decision to replace all the FPE / UBI circuit breakers. I will close with the opening paragraph from the Dr. Aronstein report:
FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breakers have a high defect rate and do not provide the level of circuit protection required by the National Electrical Code (NEC). Homeowners should be alerted to this safety defect and advised to have it corrected. The FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breakers should be replaced unless the occupants are informed and willing to live with the increased risk of fire and injury posed by defective circuit breakers.
FPE REPLACEMENT BREAKERS discusses the use of new old stock as well as newly-manufactured (we think in China) replacement circuit breakers for FPE Stab-Lok electrical panels.
FPE replacement circuit breakers (UBI) were tested and are reported on in a small sample size in Aronstein's FPE HAZARDS - 2012 [PDF] Page 10, Table 3, for test data on replacement breakers for Stab-Lok panels. Two failures out of 12 for the 2-pole breakers, one of which jammed were UBI products.
Note: while there have been field failure reports of this product as well as failures in independent testing, the initial sample size [was] too small for high-confidence statistical inference. In our opinion both prudent avoidance (or replacement) of these products as well as further testing are merited.
In 2014 AIHA, in discussing risk management, pointed out that where the risk adjusted cost of certain hazards remains high (cost of a fire, injury or death, for example), early decisions to take risk-reducing steps such as product replacement are appropriate. - AIHA (2014) & FEAR-O-METER
On 5/20/2014 we filed a product failure notification including a link to the consumer's report above to the U.S. CPSC asking for further research and hazard warning clarifications for this product type.
2017/01/03: Updated comment from private email from E.K. to the Waltham MA electrical inspection department:
I'm a resident of Northgate Gardens condo here in Waltham. Several years ago I observed that my kitchen breaker never breaks, even under very heavy load. After changing my unit electrical panel I sent my old breakers to be independently tested. The test result was very bad, five of my seven breakers were faulty (>70% failure). We are fortunate that Northgate's Board of Trustees had finally mandated that all FPE panels will be replaced in our complex, in part it was mandated because of your office recommendation.
There is an on going study by Dr. Aronstein who studied FPE failures for several decades now. I committed myself to help in this study by collecting and sending the old FPE/UBI breakers from panels that were replaced in the complex to Dr. Aronstein. I have sent first batch of 111 breakers and you can see in the forwarded message below the initial test result of 29 of them. - E.K. Martin & Kelley, Waltham MA Wiring Department, with cc to editor et als, 2017/01/03
2014: FPE circuit breaker blamed in Springtown (Parker County) house fire destroys home 3/11/2014
"The fire in Springtown destroyed a single-wide mobile home in the 300 block of Church Street and everything inside the home."
- reported by
Christin Coyne, "
Parker County fire marshal issues warning over certain make of electrical circuit breakers following house fire",
Weatherford Democrat, retrieved 3/30/14, original source:
2014: Rosemont, Fort Worth, Texas, house fire results in two fatalities - reported 2/7/2014
"The woman, identified as Karla Guajardo-Salazar, 27, died of smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.
The child has not been identified.
The fire broke out about 7 p.m. Thursday in a house in the 900 block of West Bolt Street.
The neighborhood is on Fort Worth’s south side between La Gran Plaza shopping center and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The fire was blamed on 'an electrical malfunction - ... investigators have reported that the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction near an outlet behind the couch in the living room, Crow said.
Investigators found no smoke detectors ...
[NOTICE: we have not established with certainty that FPE equipment was invovled in this fire - further citation needed - this is currently the only fire or electrical failure case in this list for which an FPE connection has not been documented - Ed. ]
Mitch Mitchell, "Woman, child die after Fort Worth house fire", Ft. Worth Star Telegram, retreved 3/30/3014, original source: http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/02/06/5548078/three-people-injured-in-house.html
Chris Van Home, "Mother, Child Killed in fort Worth House Fire", 2/8/2014, original source: http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/ Three-Critically-Hurt-in-Fort-Worth-House-Fire-244203631.html
Report at Fire Engineering, retrieved 3/3/14, source: http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/2014/02/ woman-child-die-after-fort-worth-tx-house-fire.html
Personal correspondence, M. Hickey to D Friedman 3/30/2014, on-file.
2014: FPE no-trip report:
short circuit cascades
San Francisco CA, 2779 Mcallister circuit breaker panel did not trip causing short circuit that spread to 2781 Mcallister garage. electrical had to be fixed at 2779 Mcallister outside lights and 2781 mcallister garage. Your photographs says 2779, 2781, and 2783 mcallister are federal pacific electric circuit breaker panels. am physically senior 63 disabled low income request pro bono help to fix electrical. thanks.
Had to turn off 2779 mcallister main circuit breaker panel when 2779 mcallister outside light gave off a awful smell and a light white moving cloud. - L.L. San Francisco CA 3/17/2014
Note for this reader: We're not clear what you mean by "your photograph says" as our photos don't "say" anything, though they do illustrate how to identify FPE Stab-Lok electrical equipoment. About your need for financial assistance, please see: CAN'T AFFORD A NEW ELECTRIC PANEL?
2013: FPE-failure leads to serious injury to two electricians. Switching FPE breaker to "off" fails to turn off electrical power.
August 14, 2013: we received a report of a false-off failure of an FPE (Federal Pacific Electric) main circuit breaker that led to serious injury to two electrians.
A photograph of the FPE panel where the incident occurred is included at left, provided by OSHA.
Details of this incident are not [yet] reported here because of pending litigation.
However we were informed that after a main (FPE) breake was switched to the "off" position and thus power was believed to have been turned off within the electrical panel (of a commercial installation) the electricians were injured by an electrical arc explosion.
FPE Double Pole Pump Circuit Failure, Roseburg OR, reported by [anonymous] February 2012:
Telephone conversation [Ed. ] with [Anon] calling in behalf of a friend living in a country setting, summarized as follows: 240V submersible pump circuit failure, suspected due to a bad pressure control switch, led to a short circuit or overcurrent on one leg of the 240V circuit. In the FPE Stab-Lok® panel the repair person observed that even when the breaker handle was moved to the OFF position power did not turn off at the circuit;
He switched the breaker off, then back on - sparks "fire" came out of the panel. He was unable to remove the breaker - it appears "welded" to the bus or connected in a way he did not understand.
Caller noted that FPE Stab-Lok® replacement circuit breakers were available for sale at his local building supplier - Home Depot - though the replacements are expected to perform the same as the original equipment.
FPE-Panel blamed for Fire in Lake Highlands Texas home - 23 August 2010
Karen & Floyd Clardy described lights going out in their home and flames of a fire that involved the home's garage, attic, and two rooms in the home, causing $160 thousand dollars in damages. The fire was determioned to have started in the garage where a Federal Pacific Stab-Lok electrical panel was installed.
Christina Rosales, "Experts say electrical panels in Dallas-area homes may be a fire waiting to happen", Dallas Morning News, retrieved 3/30/3014, original source: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/plano/headlines/ 20100820-Experts-say-electrical-panels-in-Dallas-8568.ece
FPE Fire Field Report: Electrical Wiring blamed in Pennsylvania Fire, 1980 fire, reported April 2010
Homeowner Anna Lunz reported to D Friedman that her homeowner's insurance from Mutual Benefit Insurance, a Pennsylvania insurer, had just been cancelled (April 2010) following the observation by the insurance company's inspector that the home was served by an FPE Stab-Lok® electrical panel.
In discussing this concern (we recommended immediate installation of smoke detectors and replacement of the electrical panel as soon as possible), Ms. Lunz reported that in 1980 this modular home suffered a major fire, including loss of two thirds of the front of the home, due to an electrical fire that began in a dining room ceiling light fixture.
The fire began while the home was unoccupied - the family were out skiing. According to the owner, electrical wiring for the ceiling light circuit was found to have fused (apparently a dead short) without having tripped the FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breaker in the home's electrical panel.
Lunz added her personal observation that following the fire, workers and neighbors inspecting the home believed that the electrical power had been shut down by switching "off" the main circuit breaker in the FPE Stab-Lok® electrical panel. According to Lunz, when an inspector attempted to examine the electrical panel,
"... he just touched the turned-off electrical panel with a screwdriver when we all observed a huge bright flash of light."
While the loss from the 1980 fire, whose origin was attributed to an electrical failure, was mostly covered by the owner's fire insurance policy, when the same electrical panel, still in the home, was observed in 2010 the insurance company declined coverage - presumably until the electrical panel was replaced. -- D Friedman, by telephone with Anna Lunz, 4/6/2010
Colorado Springs CO FPE Field Report: line short circuit on clothes dryer, reported 04/27/2010
"... We bought our first house 2 years ago here in Colorado Springs.
The inspector who did our house made no mention of FPE being bad. In fact, he told us everything looked fine. Our 100amp panel is original to the house, which was built in 1971.
Just last week we had central air installed, and the electrician the company sent out informed us of the potential problems FPE panels can cause. I am now in the process of getting estimates from several local electricians to get the panel replaced.
After reading quite a bit I realized we almost had a panel fire last year. Our dryer kept cutting off, but fortunately the breaker tripped each time. Since it was under warranty the dryer company sent someone out to check since we thought the equipment might have been causing the problem.
Everything checked out fine, but my wife mentioned he never checked the breaker panel.
That evening I went into the garage, shut off power to the main and took the cover off. What I saw next scared the crap out of me. The hot and neutral wires were melted together, and there was barely a strand of wire on the neutral going to the breaker. I don't know if this was a shoddy install or not, but I re-terminated both wires and haven't had any problems since then." -- Darren Gunter
Garland TX, FPE breaker possible no-trip, short at electric stove, 02/24/2010
I just bought my first home and now I have found out that the Federal Electric box (according to others) does not meet compliance and I should of not been sold the house with it installed. The warranty company will not help because the electrical box was mentioned on the inspection report prior to the house as being a fire hazard yet now I’m being told that the house should of not been sold at all to us because of it.
The oven in our house electrocutes us when you touch the burner plates or oven handle. It gives off 12v and the oven lights don’t work. The service man said that it’s due to the electrical supply yet the oven is the only thing in the house that acts this way. -- LW
Sunrise FL, FPE breakers fail to trip during short circuit, reported 02/02/2010
I was hoping you could shed some light on a frustrating problem regarding FPE breakers. Last week I created a short circuit thru a 120v kiln I was repairing in my garage. There was a loud pop and a brilliant flash. I immediately unplugged the kiln. NONE OF THE FPE BREAKERS HAD TRIPPED, yet there was no power at that receptacle. I then discovered that all the 240v circuits and 2/3 of the 120v circuits in my home had no power. Only five 20 amp circuits were fine.
My electrician found an insufficient power reading before my meter. Then Florida Power and Light (FPL) diagnosed I had lost a power leg outside my home. They installed a power temp to step up my power from 120 to 240 volts. Next week their subcontractor will pinpoint the damage and dig it up. The temporary fix is working perfectly for now. FPL technicians said my short circuit could not have traveled that far thru defective breakers and damaged the FPL power feed outside my home.
BUT IT ALL HAPPENED AT THE VERY EXACT SAME MOMENT. I didn't want to press the point to FPL because of potential liability. Maybe when the subcontractors investigate, it will become apparent if the damage is aging infrastructure or something more.
The FPL technicians were not aware of FPE breaker problems. My electrician brought the FPE problems to my attention. He pointed out a very tiny burn mark on the meter. However FPL thinks the meter is fine and did not change it. My electrician recommends replacing both the inside panel and also the outside main 150volt panel. We will be selling our house this spring and it could be a major issue. I would greatly appreciate your insight into this problem.
Actually this is the second time that I short-circuited my test kiln. The on-off switch burns out every 1-2 years. The kiln is 20 years old. I have replaced the switch a dozen times. So last month I replaced the switch as usual. But one protruding terminal touched the armature.
I turned on the kiln and flash-boom sparks were flying. No breakers were tripped. But there was no power at that outlet. I must have stood there less than a minute and rechecked the outlet. Power was back at the outlet! Did it really go out? Maybe the light bulb I checked the outlet with was loose. It is possible that other circuits may have also been out during those seconds. The whole thing was like a surreal dream. I didn't investigate any further.
The kiln just sat there for a month, before I worked on it again. This time the switch terminal seems to have touched the element terminal. The control box is very cramped, and screws on to front of the kiln. Visibility is limited. I am not an idiot but I feel like one! I turn the kiln on and flash-boom. The rest you know.
So the 20 and 150 amp breakers actually failed twice. Power was lost twice. The first time power came back in a minute. The second time FPL tells me their line is damaged.
My electrician has quoted me $1050 to change both the outside 150amp main panel and the inside panel (cat. no L120-40). Seems to good to be true, unless the outside panel is a real easy job. He was recommended by my very knowledgeable realtor. He may have been motivated towards the low price by his two initial misdiagnoses which I never mentioned to you. At first he thought the 150amp breaker was damaged. He found a refurbished 150amp FPE but this did not fix the problem, and he removed it.
Then he decided the meter was damaged (it still might be proven so). At this point he said to call FPL to replace the meter. But another mystery at this point.....10 more single pole circuits came on by magic, but no double pole circuits! The electrician couldn't explain it.! He said perhaps moving the meter affected it. But these 10 circuits went out about 15 minutes after the electrician left. This is just bizarre! Maybe the outside line fluctuated. Later FPL arrived and said the meter was fine, and installed the power temp until the line can be examined.
TN, Sizzling wire at heat pump - reported 01/23/2010 [unclear electric panel brand identification]
I am a tenant in Tennessee and I was writing you to ask a question about my central heat and air unit. I have had a lot of problems out of the unit since I moved in and now when the unit is turned on it causes my lights in the house to flicker and begins shooting sparks out of the outside unit. Once I flip it off it makes a sizzling sound which my landlord says is just the heat pump defrosting. What could be causing this and does this mean the unit needs replaced.
Toronto ON, FPE panel, design changed? no problems to date - reported 12/11/2009
After having reviewed the extensive information you have available on your website, and after having closely looked over
my own federal pacific (not federal pioneer) panel, which to date has not exhibited any signs of failure, I do notice what
appears to be a significant difference in busbar design from the American panel busbars shown on your website:
at least with this particular panel, the busbars are each one single piece of stamped and folded brass/copper. There are no
screw connections, other then the main lugs which appear to be held to the main busbar by a #10 screw (where the American
counterparts where the connection was with a #8 screw.) They apper to have been stamped flat, and then have
had the stab tabs bent over from alternating sides of the central insulator.
This might perhaps explain the fewer reports of bus failures in Canadian panels. Given the reports (albeit few) of breakers
failing to open which have received CSA approval in older FPE and FP panels, I am inclined to not have faith in their
designs, in spite of the potential for different manufacturing tolerances to favourably influence trip behaviour.
Stab lok breakers made by Schneider electric, which are compatible with stab lok panels are available, and are actually
fairly reasonably priced (between $10 and $40 CDN for 15A single pole >40 amp double pole.) Having not actually removed one of the older breakers
(yet) I am unaware if the stabs on the breakers have been redesigned in Schneider's products to improve their holding
ability, which is my only remaining reservation on replacing the breakers in the panel.
I have not removed any breakers since I wish to get a formal permit for their replacement, so at this time, the images are still limited
to the portions of the busbar which can be seen. You should be able to see the bend in the tab where it enters the insulator as
part of the busbar. The small 10 ga wires attached to the main lugs go to a separate water heater fuse box about 1' away from the main panel.
(I wouldn't have done it this way myself but this is how it came with the house)
Attached are also images of the front of the panel (removed from the panel and on the floor) open and closed, as well as the
specifications published on the sticker on the inside of the cover. I have attempted to get a picture of the side of one of the
breakers, and will send you a better one once they are removed.
If I get ambitious, I may load them into a small unattached pony
panel that I have access to, and put 2-3 turns on a 3KVA transformer that I have (in conjunction with a
variac) to see if I can apply low voltage fault current. I'm curious to see whether any of these are susceptable to the
jamming conditions reported in the US. If I get really ambitious, I may put an amp clamp on the ensemble to see if I can get some useful data.
- M.S. (photo attached)
Hollywood, FL house fire, 12/04/2009 - Fire inspector said electrical panel caused fire. I have two panels,. The Panel that the power comes in was a FPE panel. My electrician said I had to change the FPE panel . Explained they are defective. You can add me as another victim.
CPSC FPE Stab-Lok® letter continues to confuse home inspectors - reported 09/21/2009
A few years ago you shared your research on the FP panels. Since then I have condemned every FP panel I have come across, and I use the link to your web site in my reports as documentation on FP panels. This past week one of our ASHI chapter members came across the CPSC report below, indicating that there is no conclusive proof that the FP breakers will fail, and the risk of failure is not a big issue.
I also observed that the report appears to be dated March 3, 1983. Are you familiar with this report? Has anything changed recently that should change the way I/we address FP panels? Or is this an old report that has just re-surfaced.
... I would appreciate all the information you can provide to clear this up for us. --
John Koch, Member of Coastal ASHI in C, firstname.lastname@example.org, 203-944-9303
Freemont CA FPE Fire, Injury Report, reported 09/16/2009 -
There was a Federal Pacific electrical sub panel installed in the wall of her apartment.
The city of Fremont Electrical Inspector confirmed that there was arcing taking place in the sub-pane land that the arcing was connected to the breaker that tripped (although he did not confirm definitively that the tripped circuit breaker fed the outlet from which the electric blanket was receiving power.)
He indicated it was possible that the circuit lead to the electrical blanket caused an overload and this would also cause excessive heat which could have ignited the bed cover material before tripping the breaker.Attached is a photograph of the panel. We have retained an electrical expert who has furnished a report..... - A.T. (attorney) V.W. (client)
Electrical Reliability Engineer's FPE Field Test Report: reported 07/02/2009: I graduated from college in 1979 and went to work for Square D Company as a field sales engineer in San Antonio, Texas. My favorite sales tool was a box that contained bus from all the major breaker manufacturers at the time, wired to a receptacle with a large knife switch to make the circuit.
You must always use a 100 foot extension cord ahead of this test box to assure the breaker feeding this box would not trip first. Use small paper clips also. To make a point to a distributor about quality breakers; I would ask them to pull any 20amp breaker out of their stock (especially FPE's) and let me test it in my box.
Shock & Electrocution Hazard: The portable FPE circuit breaker test described here was performed by an experienced expert - do not try this yourself.
I would place a paper clip in the receptacle, creating a short to ground, insert their breaker, and make the circuit hot with the knife switch. NOT ONE FPE BREAKER EVER TESTED TRIPPED ! ! The paper clip would glow to a bright red then burn in half with a nice arc.
All the other manufacturers' breakers I tested would trip instantly on the short circuit current.
At one of my wife's family reunions, I told this story to one of her uncles and he told me what happened when he was replacing a receptacle in one of the grandparents' house. The uncle is a mechanic and understands electricity to the point that if he could not identify which breaker feeds a circuit, he could take a pair of INSULATED cutters and cut the cable and the breaker would trip.
In this case, he could not identify the feeder breaker by switching because the power never went off to the receptacle. When he cut the cable, the pliers melted before the breaker finally tripped. I immediately asked him to take me to the panel, and it was an FPE. I sent him a new panel full of breakers and he replaced it the next week.
This is first hand knowledge and not hearsay. I can't believe that this is not more common knowledge than it is. I totally agree, and have always repeated my history with FPE, that any FPE product is UNSAFE AND SHOULD BE REPLACED IMMEDIATELY ! -- Respectfully, Louis Taylor, Electrical Reliability Engineer, IP Texarkana Mill
Feeding Hills, MA 01030: $700. for dishwasher we didn't really need - FPE Breaker failure report - reported 06/11/2009 Away on vacation. Came home dishwasher did not work.
Was told to check FPE circuit breaker. Looked OK. Switched it on and off, but still did not work. Thought 10 yr. old dishwasher was shot even though we didn't use it everyday. Bought a new one in tune of $700 with delivery and install. New one tripped FPE breaker during drying heat cycle. Thought something was wrong when removing dishes they felt detergent was caked on them,but maybe didn't need as much soap in new DW.
Came to conclusion after speaking with several electricians FPE panel and breakers have been trouble-DANGEROUS and after reading problems with FPE on internet.
West. Mass. Elec. Co. installed ours 42 yrs. when they sold us on idea of ALL ELECTRIC home and told us it was the HOME OF THE FUTURE.FPE was endorsed by Underwriters Lab back then (1967) it's right the FPE box panel door. Too bad we have no recourse but to change panel and FPE or UL do not have any responsibility in backing up their FPE panels.
In conclusion, I thank God nothing serious has occurred as of yet and will as soon as
possible change our FPE ... panel ASAP
-- Fred M.
Denton TX FPE field failure report - reported 04/23/2009: I purchased a 1 story brick ranch in Denton TX. in 1985, equipped wit an externally mounted FPE 100 amp breaker box. The house was built around 1970 so the box was of that vintage.
The box had a catastrophic failure, around 1990, one buss bar melted explosively. There was a lot of smoke and perhaps a few flames, the box contained the event, and being mounted in brick, away from any flamable materials it caused no other damage. The other leg continued to provide power until the box could be replaced. E.F. Denton, Texas
Michigan, FPE Stab-Lok® breaker no-trip - reported 08/03/2010 I operate a full time home inspection service in mid-Michigan. I wish to thank you for the database ...
BTW, when I tested an outlet in the living room of a home yesterday, it threw sparks and fire at me but did not trip the breaker (never had this happen before).
Though the home was vacant, the estate rep was there. He had to turn of the breaker, and could not turn it on again until the outlet was disconnected. Though you may get many of them, I thought you may appreciate the pics. -- John Spencer
Sherlock Home Inspectors, Inc.
Alexandria VA FPE Stab-Lok® field failure report - 03/11/2009:
I live in Alexandria Virginia, in a community of highrises called "The Watergate at Landmark". This past weekend my fiance blew a circuit breaker while blow-drying her hair. It wasn't the first time the circuit had blown.
When she went to trip the breaker back on, it just wagged back and forth never catching to re-close the circuit. I told her I'd go to Home Depot to replace the breaker -it was clearly busted. I have an Electrical Engineering degree and while I'm not an electrician I had owned and actively re-wired a Victorian era 4 family home in NY -so popping an old circuit breaker didn't seem like a big deal.
2 hours later when I pulled the wagging breaker -it was still very warm -I thought that was odd, the load had been removed hours ago. Additionally, another 15amp breaker that was not being stressed popped and wouldn't come back.
So after Home Depot and Lowes -not having my FPE breakers, I went to an electrical supply house.
They had replacement FPE breakers, but all of the staff came out to see mine -the bathroom one was slightly melted on the side. They all chimed in that Federal Pacific had lost their UL listing and that this panel was a fire-hazard. Being that the panel is close the front door and only viable fire exit -it did get my attention. I paid the $62.00 for a replacement breaker and contacted our building engineer.
He assured me that to date no fires in any units had been caused by the panels we have. The complex was built between 1971 - 1979, with one building being completed about every 2 years. There are 4000 units in the complex. I have been looking for specific information on the catalog number or the UL listing but have not found anything specific. Catalog RBX112-24D, UL No. BP-479388, the panel is a 125A service.
Your website makes me feel like I need to replace my panel - I cringe at the cost of it but more so at the prospect of having a circuit lock in on position and burn out... I guess are there any FPE panel models that are safer than others? I didn't see the word stab-lock but my breaker has a male "stab" piece that goes into the main bus - instead of a female connector which is what I saw in my home in NY and in all the stock at Home Depot and Lowes.
I would appreciate your comments. There is a community website -and I posted my comments about the panel when i went to replace it, and would like to post again when I know more.
Loose FPE Breaker - reported 03/03/2009
I've got an FPE panel in my Mom's house in Scarsdale, NY. The panel and BX wiring look to be circa 1950's to pre '64 (when I
was born, the panel has been there as is as long as I can remember i.e 1968 onwards). The panel states it is an
FPE No. 116-24 Stab-Lok® Load Center. I believe it is two(?)pole (I'm not sure as too how many amps, perhaps two 75A legs? I
doubt it is 2 legs @100A each). Most of the house is BX, with three or four newer lines using RX. ... I'm skilled amateur electrician.
I Know good wiring from bad. I was investigating how to SAFELY install a new breaker. I
popped the FPE panel and took a look inside. A circuit breaker on the bottom left side of the panel is unsupported.
There is one more slot between it and two 40A ganged breakers for the clothes dryer.
This breaker can be moved left to
right and up and down. It does not fill me with confidence. I do concur that the panel is small, and there is
little to no more room for any additional wires. There were no scorch marks, and no connections look to be loose. Rat's nest comes to mind. I've noticed all the new panels are much more roomy inside.
I've never experienced a breaker failing to trip, however. We have had some overloads and shorts in the past.
We were told by an electrician roughly fifteen years ago about FPE problems, but it was vague anecdotal evidence.
Needless to say I would like to replace this box, ... -William J.
FPE Stab-Lok® field failure report by home inspector 01/17/2009: I operate a full time home inspection service in mid-Michigan. I wish to thank you for the database full of useful information that your website provides. I have been referencing it for several years. ... when I tested an outlet in the living room of a home yesterday, it threw sparks and fire at me but did not trip the breaker (never had this happen before).
Though the home was vacant, the estate rep was there. He had to turn of the breaker, and could not turn it on again until the outlet was disconnected. Though you may get many of them, I thought you may appreciate the pics. -- John Spencer
Sherlock Home Inspectors, Inc. -- sherlockmi.com
[NOTE: this was a copper-bus Federal Electric Stab-Lok® electrical panel. Photos of this electrical panel can be seen at FEDERAL ELECTRIC PANELS -- DF]
Stone Harbor New Jersey FPE Stab-Lok® report, 01/06/2009:
I am on the Board of Directors of a [name on file]
. In late August of 2008 we became aware of the controversy over FPE breakers and panels. We have this equipment in all but one unit in our building.
I was very surprised that no one in the building participated (or tried to) in the NJ class action suit. That being said, I have been able to convince the Board to take a vote on January 10, 2009 regarding the replacement of all of these panels and breakers in 67 units in our building. We have already received bids from three electrical contractors and the work should begin in the next few weeks. We would like to consider donating the old FPE equipment to you for your continued testing.
This should provide you with an additional 1000 + breakers and 66 panels. Since our units have electric heat, in addition to central air and electric hot water, two bedroom units (the building's largest) have at least 6 of the notorious two pole FPE breakers.
I also want to thank you both for the information you have posted online. After reading your web site alone I was convinced we needed to replace this dangerous equipment. In no small way, I believe you gentleman are saving lives. Too bad we can't say that about the CPSC---at least related to the FPE subject.
Fire Investigation Report, 01/01/2009: house fire, $20,000 damage to structure, $10,000. damage to contents. Electrical in origin - at a power strip. FPE Stab-Lok® panel installed. Inconclusive to date (02/12/2010)
InspectAPedia received the following fire report from Mitch Clothier, father of one of the occupants of the apartment involved in the fire reported below. Photographs were also included in the original email, below. The fire report indicates that the investigator took 38 photos that were archived.
A fire occurred on 1/1/2009 in a 622 N. Tracy St. Wichita KS 67212 one-story wood-frame single family residence of un-stated age.
The fire was discovered by the owner(s) on returning to the building of Ms Caryn L VonEhrenkrook (20 y.o.) who left the residence at approx. 1600 hrs, returned to the residence and discoverd a fire first observed as smoke and staining on the windows. On opening the door a small living room fire was observed.
A fire alarm was recorded at 19:36 hrs.
The fire was extinguished and a fire investigator called to the scene.
The fire investigator traced the fire to a power strip into which multiple electronic devices had been connected.
Our correspondent reports that the electrical panel was an FPE Stab-Lok® Unit.
The fire report includes an occupant observation that prior to the fire there were electrical anomalies in the apartment, that the lights in the apartment would either dim or flicker when major appliances were turned on.
Comments by DF (InspectAPedia):
We could not determine from reading the fire report whether the investigator, or an independent expert would or could conclude that a contributing factor to the fire was or could have been failure to trip of the circuit breakers. The investigator did cite the possibility that there was a contributing pre-existing problem. The details (below) raise two questions:
1. Was there also aluminum branch circuit or appliance circuit wiring in the building? I have often seen and had reports of a dual-hazard of both aluminum wiring and FPE Stab-Lok® panels together, confounding diagnosis of fire origin.
2. Would we possibly, probably, or necessarily expect a fire initiating at a power strip to result in a short that could or should call for the corresponding circuit breaker to trip?
Finally, this case underscores the added value that would accrue if fire investigators would regularly record the brand of electrical panel and the presence or absence of aluminum wiring whenever a fire appears to involve or include electrical components in its origin.
The notes below are transcribed (by DF) excerpts from a copy of a 1/1/2009 fire report provided by Mitch Clothier, father of a renter of the subject apartment. >
The fire investigator's (Lt.Joe Evans, Wichita KS) observations included:
- an examination of the structure exterior and interior
- heavy smoke damage in living room;
- heavy smoke damage in kitchen with no direct fire damage
- heavy smoke damage in bathroom and laundry with no direct fire damage
- Living room:
"... I observed direct fire damage to the wall, and to several items located approximately five feet directly in front of the couch. I examined this area, and located an LCD television, and two metal boxwe in this area. The television was still intact, and had received direct fire damage, particularly to the right side.
The television was a Vizo,LCD flat panel television. I was able to rule out the television as a caues of the fire.
"I then looked at the breaker panel located directly above where the LCD television and the two metal boxes were located. The breaker panel had received direct fire damage, and the switches were melted. I was not able to determine if any of the breakers were in the tripped position.
"I then examined the two metal boxes located to the left of the television. Both of these boxes had received direct fire damage. Both of the metal boxes were later identified as an Xbox 360, and a home stereo system. I began to trace the wires of both units, and found that the television, home stereo system, and Xbox 360 were all plugged into a power strip. The power strip was located along the south wall between a windo, and a very small portion of the wall that extended outward. I examined the power stripo, and found it to be plugged into an outlet on the south wall.
The power strip had received direct fire damage and was severely damaged. I then examined the outlet that the power strip was plugged into. The outlet had received direct fire damage, and was also severely damaged. As I examined the power strip, the pattern started at the floor level, and continued upward. The baseboard in the area of th epower strip had received extensive direct fire damage, and showed heavy char. The v-pattern started from
this point, and continued upward.
As I examined this area further, I noted tha tthe table that the LCD television, XBox 360, and the home stereo system all sat on was primarily composed of compressed wood. As I examined this table, I observed that the table had received direct fire damage, with the most severe damage being to the right side in the area of the power strip. The left side of the table was still partially intact and standing, although this portion of the table had also received direct fire damage. I then determined that the area located on the right side of the table was the area of origin.
"We estimated the fire loss to be approximately $20,000. to the structure, and $10,000 to the contents. The property owner, Don Rowson ... "
- the investigator reports from interview with occupant C.L. VonEhrenkrook that .
".. Zach made entry into the residence in an attempt to rescue three dogs that wre inside. Due to smoke conditions this effort was short lived. Ms. VonEhrenkrook stated that the lights in the apartment would either dim or flicker when major appliances were turned on. ..."
The fire investigator concluded that
"The cause of the fire was accidental, and the result of the power strip. Although it cannot be determined the exact event that transpired with the power strip, itis believed that there was an issue with the aforementioned power strip, which resulted in a free burning fire that extended to the taable, and to the items contained on, and within the area of the table. There was extensive damage to the power strip,and to the wall and table in this area. The occupants' statement as to power fluctuations when major appliances were turned on, possibly may have contributed to the issue with the power strip. All fire patterns, and witness statements support these findings." - Lt. Joe Evans, Fire/Arson Investigator, Wichita KS
News Report: A
Wichita man was injured Thursday evening after an accident inside his home sparked a fire. 911 dispatchers received a call about a fire at the home in the 600 block of North Tracy. The first crews arrived and found the house full of smoke and a small fire on the living room floor.
The man and his girlfriend were gone when the fire started, but returned home and she called for help. He tried to enter the house to rescue two pets still inside. An ambulance was called to help him recover from smoke inhalation. He was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated and released. Meanwhile, an investigator says the fire likely started in a power strip in the living room. Damage is estimated at $30,000. The two pets perished in the fire. -- KAKE News email@example.com
York PA FPE Stab-Lok® failure report, 01/01/2009: I have just completed a remodel of my families laundry room and in so doing I wanted to add a line to my panel. to my surprise I have one of these federal panels. I have not been able to buy any breakers here in york Pa. I did fine a breaker at a Re-store-it shop in York and after running a line to the box the circuit breaker won't hold in the panel. No matter how we put the breaker in the slot it wouldn't lock in.
We decided to forego the entire process( due to the winter weather) and wait for spring to replace the entire panel. I have had no luck in finding replacement parts for federal pacific breakers,and a few individuals (professionals) have suggested I stay clear of that brand..I purchased my home after retiring from the Marines in Feb. 1996.
Please help me figure this out.....Why didn't my whole house inspection required by the V.A. prior to the sale discover this problem.... How could all these professionals have missed this problem.... I would like any advice you may have to help I can be reached at [on file]
- Richard Zarnardi
Denver CO FPE Stab-Lok® field failure report, 12/24/2008 - I am currently having similar issues you have described in your report, and in-fact I had to make an emergency call-out to an electrician last night (December 24, 2008) because the circuit panel was arcing and could have ignited a fire in the panel enclosure (thank goodness I was home when it happened).
This past summer (July 2008) one of the circuit breakers failed, but when I looked in the panel none of the breakers appeared to have tripped. The electrician who replaced that circuit breaker mentioned that FPE panels were no longer manufactured and may need to be replaced because of poor performance and the inability to find replacement breakers, but never indicated the extent of the defects that your report describes.
The electrician that fixed the breaker that was arcing last night was perfectly clear about the very problems your report describes, and in-fact encouraged me to research FPE on the internet. His advice and your research have convinced me that a full replacement of the FPE panel is needed ASAP! The really scary part of my experience is that my entire neighborhood was built by the same builder (1983-1985) and most likely every house in the subdivision (450 homes) has FPE panels installed in them.
I plan to notify the Homeowners Association of my problem and share your report information with them so as many of my neighbors may become informed of the electrical fire hazard presented by the FPE breakers and panels in their home.Thank you for the information.Jeffrey Ishee
Opinion on dangers of Federal Pioneer electrical panels: 12/11/2008:
Federal Pioneer stab-loc electric breaker 125amp panel, I just read your article on federal pioner breakers. When i had my house built in 1981 , that is the panel they put in my house. are they just as bad as the later ones. Bob Galbraith
Louisiana FPE Stab-Lok® field failure report 11/19/2008: I just ran accross your website and inspector information. I am a resident of Louisiana. Yesterday, I noticed a burning smell in my utility room where my Breaker panel was.
After further inspection, I've found burnt up wire from main line coming from electrical meter. I came to find replacement panel and noticed your website. I have a Federal Pacific Electric Company breaker panel Catalog No. L120-40. I noticed there was some settlements in New Jersey for this specific panel. What is being done for the rest of the country?
This box could of killed me and my family had I not found it at the specific time. Now I need to have a total replacement as per your recommendation. My home was built in 1981 but I am not the original home builder. Is there anything that Federal Pacific or its parent company has done to remedy this situation outside of New Jersey? Brock A. DeRouen
FPE Field failure report, Hooversville PA, 09/29/2008: I just read your artical about federal pacific boxes I have one of these in my rental & they had a smoldering outlet this weekend.
The first outlet from the box in a string of 6 netural wire over heated & melted the outlet . there was no sign of short. there was a computer & acc. plugged into a power strip that was plugged into the outlet. The next outlet in line had a treadmill plugged in & running another outlet in the room had a lamp plugged in but was not on I dont understand how this could happened ? Now about these FP boxes is there any money from fp to replace these (I know that breakers not tripping didnt cause my problem, as far as I can tell there was no reason for the breaker to trip & I shorted it anyway just to test it & it tripped but in any case now im parinoid about the fp box?
Thanks Kirk Gennett
Hooversville pa 15936
FPE Stab-Lok® field failure report 09/19/2008: I just want to make sure we have a safe home. This house has this..We rented for 27 years and this is the first home we have ever owned...Well making payments....I have never sued anyone and have no plans on doing this
Just wanted infor as to what we should do? We already had to replace the main breaker that should have shot off the breakers 3 days after we moved in..and it had already stated to melt...Our electric would go off and then it took it about 15 minutes to come back on........An electrician found the problem and we had to have it fixed.
FPE Field Failure Report, Tucson AZ, from Electrician, 09/18/2008: I am an electrical contractor in Tucson, Az. I regularly encounter FPE panels. I do not work on this faulty equipment & encourage my
customers to have it replaced.
We just replaced a 100 amp FPE service on a residence.
Breakers were burning up & arcing was present within the busing. I refer my customers to your website, as some who have not yet had an issue with this equipment wish to see for themselves. Today, as I prepared an estimate & included the link to your site, I saw therein an Ebay ad for FPE breakers! Perhaps you are not aware of this glaring contradiction & would like to know. Roger Larriva,
Day Star Service Co Inc,
Tucson, AZ firstname.lastname@example.org
FPE Stab-Lok® field report and home inspection complaint 09/18/2008: We purhased our home in October of 2004. We recently built a shed and contacted an electrician to have power run to the shed. When he came out, he told us that he would not touch the panel, due to being a Federal Pacific stab lok style. He said it was recalled/taken off market due to being a fire hazard at least ten years ago.Electrian gave us a bid of $1500 to replace with new panel and breakers.
When we purchased our home we paid good money to have an engineer complete a FULL inpection.The only problem he stated in his report was the door to panel would not stay open but never noted to have a professional look at it due to maybe being a fire hazard. What can I do to get this problem resolved. We have contacted the [home inspection] engineer company and they say Federal Pacific panels/breakers have not been proven to be a hazard and engineer had zero knowledge of any issues.
Ryan & Ashleigh Tilkens
FPE Stab-Lok® panels in St. Croix - I am on the board of the Reef in St. Croix and I want to document the fact that we need to replace the remaining FPE breakers we have. Peter Duthie
FPE Stab-Lok® in CA - question by licensed electrician on duty to warn electrical work customers, 06/22/2008: Safety has always been my number one priority, accordingly I plan to notify all customers who have FPE (or Zinsco ) panels regardless of whether I have a continuing business relationship with them.
However, it is still useful to know when the "duty to warn" turns into a"courtesy warning". Here is the advice I was given. I was told that in California a property owner (or their agents) are assumed to (or should be able to) independently discover any building defect (including latent) within 10 years time. While this would not specifically apply to me, as I never installed these panels, it does imply that the "duty to warn " should turn into a "courtesy warning" after 10 years of no customer contact.
If an installation included a contractual duty to inspect (mine did not) then the "duty to warn" could extend back to when the hazard was becoming commonly agreed upon in the inspection industry (1995 or later). However, I was told that legally, absent an official recall or universal industry acceptance (electrical and inspection) of the hazard, there is no legal obligation to warn at all. Mark Garrison
Tonawanda FPE installation & also Canadian house fire, FPE in question? 06/18/2008: I am a recent homeowner in Grand Island, NY, having electrical problems with my pool motor. I called an electrician, and he found that the installer put a GFI 120V plug box on top of one of the Fed Pac panels, and that had tripped.
The house has outdoor lighting, and I was greatly surprised at the absence of GFI breakers inside the box. The electrician noted that finding them was expensive.... I am now extremely curious if a friend's complete house fire in Ontario last year could be traced to these boxes.
The fire marshalls blamed it on a power outlet. If they did have these boxes, do you know if they have any recourse? I see that they were made in Canada under the Federal Pioneer name. ... In any event, I am getting quotes to have both boxes replaced. Jay Farquharson, Tonawanda NY
Martinsville VA FPE Stab-Lok® field failure report at a church, 05/07/2008: Our church has several FPE panels and although FPE made decent switchgear their residential and light commercial panels are dangerous. The main bus is aluminum, rather than copper.
Additionally, as I found from the failure of our brand new heat pump, the cover design can unseat two pole breakers resulting in overcurrent on the bus, undervoltage/ under amperage on the equipment. When the cover is properly in place it knocks one pole slightly off contact.
I discovered one panel had been field modified to correct this, they simply had the mounting screws turned to just barely catch, the cover was nearly an inch off the panel. I chose to replace two of the panels with Siemens panels. When I removed the old FPE panels and salvaged the aluminum I was surprised to see that it was heavily scorched in multiple places.
Of the twenty breakers I removed 12 of them showed signs of arc damage (one breaker had to be pried off because it had bonded to the bus). Two breakers were so badly burnt on the underside that they fell apart in my hands. The scary thing is that these breakers were providing power and were trusted to operate in the event of an overcurrent situation.
Since the church is wired mostly with rag wire and has no grounding protection the only thing keeping people safe was the good Lord. I am going to use your web page to encourage the church to replace the remaining FPE panels. --
Rev. Mike Eisenman Pleasant Grove UMC Martinsville, Virginia
Lawyer questions need to replace FPE Panels 04/23/2008: I am a real estate agent and am in dispute over the buyers attorney ( I represent the buyer as well) as to the seriousness of the situation of the Federal Pacific Stab Lok Panels.
I have read your web site thoroughly, hence, this is how I became so concerned over this situation, however, the lawyer states as there we no recalls and the CPSC concluded the testing that the problem is "overblown" and not material in which to bring up to the seller. I am looking for some legal document dictating the problem, not a personal opinion.
I saw the letter written by Jesse Aronstein to the CPSC, however, there is no proof the letter was sent or received- this is what I am dealing with. Anything you can offer me if much appreciated. Karen Jones Tech Valley Homes
Minneapolis MN FPE Field Failure report - burn injury, litigation 04/23/2008: I am involved in a case where an individual is currently in the hospital with burns over 85% of his body as the result of a Federal Pacific circuit panel failure and subsequent explosion. Do you know if there is an entity who has assumed the liabilities of Federal Pacific or is this entity simply out of existence?
JMB [details witheld for legal confidentiality]
Virginia FPE Stab-Lok® field failure report from contractor, 04/16/2008: I have an issue with a federal pacific 200 amp panel in my grandmothers home. The problem started when she complained that she didn't have water.
After checking out the problem we found a spot next to the foundation under the ground that was smoking and dug it up to find three exposed, deteriorated underground wires, one of which was running her pump house. the ground around the wires was conductive and hot, along with the foundation the wires were pulled through. I traced the wires back to the panel and found they were each separately hooked to double 30 breakers. I took an insulated tool with a metal end and struck a wire to make it arc and after the arc the breaker still did not trip.
I talked to another friend that is an electrical contractor about it and he turned me to looking for the website. All breakers running those wires have been cut off and he will be doing a panel change to get rid of
this problem. I cannot believe I had not heard about this type of panel before, it has been in her home for 20+ years.
I'm not an electrician but I guess would say I shorted out the circuit. I took the handle of the tool and laid it on the cinder block foundation and touched the hot wire for a second or two. The pump is 240 V, one wire feeding the pump, the others possibly old leftovers from a previous pump. why they were still functional I have no idea. They were not hooked to the same breaker. Each wire was on its own double 30 breaker. I have pictures to send you of the wires and the panel, but it will be later in the week until I can send them. An electrician is replacing the panel and I should have no problem getting the old one. I may be able to donate it for research.
-- Josh Cobb
Batavia NY FPE Stab-Lok® concern 04/17/2008: I am an electrician at the New York State School for the Blind and Multi-handicapped, located in Batavia, New York. I have a question for you, regarding Federal Pacific Circuit breakers and panel boards. Our Federal Breakers and panel boards here, were installed in 1984. Have any of these breakers or panelboards caused problems or have the breakers had a recall? It has caused quite a scare here at our school. Walter Pahuta, NYSSB Electrician
Scarsdale NY FPE Stab-Lok® field report of no problems found 03/03/2008: I've got an FPE panel in my Mom's house in Scarsdale, NY. The panel and BX wiring look to be circa 1950's to pre '64 (when I was born, the panel has been there as is as long as I can remember i.e 1968 onwards). The panel states it is an FPE No. 116-24 Stab-Lok® Load Center. I believe it is two(?)pole (I'm not sure as too how many amps, perhaps two 75A legs? I doubt it is 2 legs @100A each). Most of the house is BX, with three or four newer lines using RX. I'm don't have the nomenclature of your field memorized. The front panel looks alot like the one pictured at one minute
forty-one seconds in this Youtube video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=SUuYj8ciIH8
I'm skilled amateur electrician. I've run gang boxes with BX and RX. I've installed three prong duplex outlets throughout the house, with correct 20 amp receptacles where required. I've checked all outlets for correct polarity and ground. I've improved the grounding situation for the FPE panel, just in case. In 2004 I completely replaced the my Mom's old failed Radionics alarm with a new Ademco unit, complete with new backing boards. I cleaned up the rats nest of low voltage wire to boot.
I Know good wiring from bad. After studying several advanced D-I_Y books (B&D, Home Depot) I was investigating how to SAFELY install a new breaker. I popped the FPE panel and took a look inside. A circuit breaker on the bottom left side of the panel is unsupported. There is one more slot between it and two 40A ganged breakers for the clothes dryer. This breaker can be moved left to right and up and down. It does not fill me with confidence. I do concur that the panel is small, and there is little to no more room for any additional wires. There were no scorch marks, and no connections look to be loose. Rat's nest comes to mind. I've noticed all the new panels are much more roomy inside.
I've never experienced a breaker failing to trip, however. We have had some overloads and shorts in the past. We were told by an electrician roughly fifteen years ago about FPE problems, but it was vague anecdotal evidence. Needless to say I would like to replace this box, perhaps with those new arc preventing As from your web site I plain to get three estimates. I
will enquire as to Eaton-C/H replacement panel (if such replacement is practical). Our panel is surface mounted (not very well, either). I believe this will aide in the ease of replacement. If bolt-in replacement is not an option, should I insist on Square-D? Again thanks for the info. I hope we can keep it around $2,000. They really try to gouge you in Scarsdale, though. -- William Jetter
Pasadena CA FPE Stab-Lok® field failure report 02/20/2008: Great article on the FPE faulty breakers. I had no idea they were this bad. I have this panel on my house. The main breaker was so loose on the panel that when cars would drive by the ground would shake and you could see sparks and the lights flicker. I took the guts out and replaced with guts of another panel, new from Home Depot. But now I have to cover plate and the inspector is demanding I get one. Is there a replacement of the guts that I can replace with out messing with the box.
It is completely stuccoed and if I upgrade the whole panel the Building Dept is making me move it 15 feet to the side of the house. Huge problem for existing conduits and other feeds.
Mark S. Pasadena CA. 626-533-5101
Home inspector's report that Nationwide Insurance is unfamiliar with FPE hazards 02/14/2008: Federal Pacific Breakers - Upon finding the bad boys had not been replaced in a condo I had Inspected several months ago, I was getting ready to pen a nasty-gram to the owner. I contacted my personal insurance agent, assuming the insurance companies were all over this. Turns out the underwriters (Nationwide) had never heard of this problem. I was rather amazed. --
Pete Pruitt, Pruitt Home Services 919-810-8204
FPE Stab-Lok® field failure report 02/05/2008: I had a wiring problem in my house. The original electrician tacked the romex to a board holding the roof shakes. When the roof was redone a stable went through the wire and it has taken eight years to become a problem. I'm looking at a piece of 14-2 romex with a 1/2 inch section burnt out of it and I'm thankful that my house did not burn down with my family in it. The Federal Pacific breaker never tripped. I'm getting the panel replaced as fast as I can and I will have several arc-fault breakers installed for the bedrooms.
Again, thanks for gathering and publishing the information. I'm not the type of person to run around and tell neighbors my problems, but I took the time to check in with our neighbors about their panels. -- Con O'Keeffe
BC Canada FPE / Federal Pioneer (?) field report, 02/01/2008: I was actually looking for a breaker (for a spa) when I accidentally stumbled on your article. Even before the risk of fire... the risk of shock is now what really worries me (my panel is a FPE and I was after a 2 poles/30 amps GFCI breaker for my spa/hot tub pack). I live in BC, Canada and the main panel (an older 100 amps) was there when I purchased that log cabin a year ago. So was the hot tub (rated 25 amps... wired via a regular 40 amps breaker... WITHOUT GFCI!!!).
Anyway... if everything is wired according to code (which is ofc my intention)... would you feel comfortable having your family use that spa/hot tub (but) with that FPE panel? or would you end up replacing the panel?
Safety of mind is priceless...Raphael Chenaux
FPE Stab-Lok® "no problem" report, 02/01/2009: I'm a home owner with a 100 amp FPE Stab-Lock electrical panel in my home. I was thinking of finishing off a room in my basement for a rec room for the kids and began looking into what electrical work I would need. I happened to come across your web site regarding the FPE Stab-Lock panels and it really caught my attention. While I have never had any problems with the panel, I'm wondering now if its a problem waiting to happen. Paul Guikema
NOTE: ------ additional FPE field failure reports from 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 between the above and below dates are on file and remain to be inserted here ----
Denver CO FPE failure report 30 May 2005 -
FPE Breakers - Hazardous?
On March 22, 2004 there was a service call that I had to perform in the South Denver area. One of the upstairs bedroom circuits was out. While troubleshooting, I needed to find the correct breaker and kill it, so of course I did this the way many electricians do so, by trying to short that circuit out.
The first time I tried doing this by directly crossing the neutral and hot conductors of a 14 gauge copper romex cable. Sparks flew everywhere for about a full second, but then I found the circuit still alive!
So I stripped off some more insulation from the two conductors and tried it again. This time I could see the copper drip and explode, as I held the two together for a longer period and still again the circuit did not trip!
Again I tried doing this two more times and though I had welded away over 1 1/2" of copper from both conductors, the circuit was still on! And this is a bedroom circuit for a child!
I went down to the electrical out in the back yard and found this place to have a FPE panel and then I knew why the circuit was not tripping, as this is not my first experience with FPE panels and the breakers not tripping.
My previous experience was with a 2 Pole 30 Amp circuit breaker not tripping and causing a fire. This time, it was a 1 Pole, 15 Amp single breaker that was failing to do its job.
Usually a circumstance like this is still a tough sell as far as convincing the homeowner NOW is the time service change. There are too many people who still want to wait until an actual "problem" occurs, but what are they waiting for, the house to burn down?
The entire housing community of this service call all have FPE panels, as there are many neighborhoods with thousands of homes all having FPE panels originally installed when they were built here in the Denver Metro area.
Back in the 1970's they were one of the, if not the, most popular panel used by electrical contractors in this area of the country.
Since this was a rental unit, the management company was able to convince the homeowner that this panel needed to be removed ASAP. Once it was removed, I sent the complete guts and all of the breakers intact to Dr. Jess Aronstein in New York so that it could be thoroughly examined to find out why the breaker failed.
Several summers earlier I had a service call in the Polo Grounds area of Denver. When I arrived at this residence I found that the dryer circuit was in a dangerous condition.
Somehow a metal spoon had gotten into the dryer and then ended up getting across the heating element, causing a direct short.
Rather than the breaker shorting out, the receptacle over heated to the point that it actually caught on fire and burn the receptacle and outlet box enough so that the fire actually stopped the short and then fortunately the fire burned itself out!
The panel was a small FPE load center that was located near the middle of the house in the kitchen of all places! And this one small load center was the only breaker panel for the entire house! A very dangerous situation that was cured by a complete service change where the new electrical panel was moved to the exterior of the house.
Robert Mitton - Denver, CO
Mike Holt's Comment: The failure rates for these circuit breakers are significant, see the CPSC study. For Additional information about this problem, visit the excellent website https://InspectAPedia.com/fpe/FPE_Stab_Lok_Hazards.php managed by Daniel Friedman http://InspectAPedia.com.
Virginia Fpe failure report -
I am a EE here in Virginia who has worked on a friend's house here who has FPE circuit breakers.
I discovered several of the same problems and tested the same symptoms as noted on your website.
Even the panel box does not fit with new or old breakers.
We are set to replace the whole thing.
Since this is in VA, it would be appreciated if you could mention that it has been found here on your website.
Maybe we could begin to find how many in VA were affected.
-- RR to DJF, 5 Sept 2005
St. Louis, MO. FPE failure, fire, + Aluminum Wiring -
I bought a house in Crestwood Missouri (Suburb of St. Louis) back in 2001.
The house was built in 1972. We had the house inspected and it was noted that it had aluminum wiring.
I didn't like it but I thought.....no big deal.
Then I started hearing stories but what really woke me up was a co worker
of mine came home with his wife and kids from a week long vacation to their house which just burnt down.
The fire dept was there cleaning up. The cause was aluminum wiring. Recently I had to replace my dishwasher.
When I went to disconnect the old one I found that the aluminum house wiring connection to the old dishwasher was burnt and melted.
The entire yellow cap was almost completely gone.
So I decided to start replacing my aluminum wiring.
I replaced the circuit for the dishwasher without any problems. About a week later I started checking into replacing
the rest of the wiring. I didn't like how all the wires in my main panel were like a bunch of spaghetti. I decided to get on the internet and went
to Google. I typed in "electrical panel wiring" and your site was the second one on the list. I couldn't believe it!
Not only was the aluminum wiring not a good thing but now my Federal Pacific panel and breakers are not a good thing.
Thanks to you site I will be getting some bids to have my Federal Pacific Panel replaced.
It's a shame that the inspector didn't mention anything about the federal pacific panel.
He did at least let us know about the aluminum wiring.
Would we have bought the house had we known about the FP panel? Probably but we would have replaced it much sooner.
-- Bob L. to DJF 16 Aug 2005
FPE Single Pole Breaker Questioned -
I called FPE American and they told me that the design of the newer breakers have not changed. They also claimed they are approved and safe. Then when I really started asking questions they were a bit hesitant to say anymore.
What I don't understand is the failure of any regulatory agencies to order recalls or issue an order prohibiting future sales or of any product liability law firm to file a class suit..
-- Michael Z. to DJF 30 July 2005
Fire Extinguisher for FPE Electrical Panels Offered -
Our company manufactures and distributes around the world the FirePro fire extinguishing systems that include in their range special stand alone (autonomous and automatic) fire extinguishers for use, specifically, inside electric panels. Indeed, to date, we have a number of real life examples where a fire initiated inside a panel was extinguished with our systems and most importantly prevented its spread outside the panel .
Therefore, I would suggest that this could be a fine solution, at very low cost, to the problems faced with the FPE panels.
I would kindly refer you to our website at www.firepro.info for more detailed information about FirePro.
-- Harry Economides, Director Sales and Marketing Div.,FirePro Systems Ltd [NOTE: the proper repair for FPE electric panels is to
replace them, not to install a fire extinguisher in the panel -- DF.]
Florida FPE breaker failures - I am a residential and service electrician in Jacksonville, Fl. The experiences of my colleagues and myself confirms your claims about FPE breakers. It is our intention as a service oriented company to take advantage of this knowledge to encourage our customers to have their panels upgraded, namely to Square D type QO panels and breakers
Mr. Friedman in your expert opinion and extensive experience " are the claims you and I hold have any legal ramifications if applied in a commercial sense? have you looked at that aspect? I humbly await your reply. Eric K. to DJF - May 2005
Virginia Federal Pacific Panel Failure report -
I felt compelled to thank you for the info here on the problems w/these circuit breakers. I had found out for myself these things do not work. I was fortunate there was no fire. Had I not been there when it happened, there probably would have.
It does not trip.
I was going to replace it, when I found they charge around $80.00 for the 2poll 40C.
Since its my Moms house, and she is not going anywhere, I'm considering replacing the whole panel.
For double or so that, I could have all new hardware, and peace of mind. I think we could use a class action suit here in VA as well as the one in NJ.
Richard S. to DJF - March 2005
Missouri Failure report - St. Louis
We have a Federal Pacific Circuit Breaker Box in our home and we are intermittently losing power.
Do you have any information about these boxes or any info concerning a recall on these boxes?
to DJF - March 2005
The condo I'm in the process of buying near Sarasota has an FPE panel, which I'm trying to get the condo association to replace. Do you know an electrician in the Sarasota or Bradenton area who is familiar with this problem and knows what to look for?
T. Chang to DJF - 3/05
New Jersey - Electrician opinion on FPE I never knew a thing about the problems with these circuit breakers, which were installed in my parents' NJ house.
Apparently neither did any of a number of electricians over the years - until one today who went to look at the panel saw
"Federal Pacific" on the box and said, "Get rid of it."
I am NO expert in this stuff, and I'm confused about which of these circuit breakers are bad. All of them?
The one in my parents' house was installed around 1965.
It doesn't say anything like "Stab-Lok® " on it, although the breakers themselves are exactly like the double E type breaker in
Figure 6 of this article on the problems with FPE
Thank you for the info on your site. I never would've known about this if it weren't for the electrician; and I never would've known about all the problems with this company and the NJ class action suit if it weren't for you. Debby C to DJF - Feb 2005
Challenger breaker burnup report -
I recently had a challenger circuit breaker jam and the end result was that it burned up all the wires on that circuit.
Luckily we were at home and I ran to the breaker box and tripped all the breakers when I smelt the smoke.
The bad thing is that it burned all the wires on that circuit in the attic and the walls and smoked the house up real bad.
I had a licensed electrician come out and check everything in the box and walls and he couldn't believe the breaker did not trip.
Since then I had the electrician run all new wires and changed the receptacles, since the wiring was in the walls I had to settle
for running conduit around the inside of the walls and it is not very pretty.
My question is? How do I contact the manufacture directly to see what can be done about the failure of their product?
I really don't feel comfortable at all now since reading your article.
I searched the internet for challenger electric with no results.
Ronald D to DJF - Feb 2005
Denver, CO Federal Pacific Electric Stab Lok Failure Report - I am replacing my FPE (Federal Pacific) panel at my residence at 8 am MT on December 29, 2004 (i.e., ASAP).
I confirmed that it has Stab-Lok® breakers. I found your web article RE: FPE breakers.
Thank you very much for this info!
A couple of days ago we smelled an "electrical" smell in our basement.
It could have been our tread mill machine, which, by the way, has a 15 amp fuse rocker switch built into the tread
mill machine itself. My wife said the treadmill no longer raises when you turn it on, perhaps indicating a problem
with the motor that raises the tread mill platform.
We've since unplugged the treadmill and haven't smelled the electrical smell since.
We also have two outlets that don't function in our basement guest bedroom (outlets that on the same wall where the treadmill machine
was located in the adjacent room). So, we tripped OFF-ON all the 15 amp and 20 amp FPE breakers at the panel - one at a time -
hoping to find a tripped breaker. No such luck. There must be some other problem.
Also, I expected to have to reset our electric digital clocks in our upstairs bedroom (that have no battery backup)
after switching all the 15 and 20 amp circuits OFF and back ON. However, the clocks continued to function - without
requiring resetting - as if no power failure had occurred. That was too weird.
Thanks for your reply. The electrician replaced the FPE panel with a GE panel.
Your experience that overheating occurs at the connections seems to be validated by my experience today:
The old FPE panel showed melted plastic insulation around a wire attached to the ground lug, if I remember correctly.
Also, after removing all the FPE breakers, two breakers showed a slight browning by the silver connector.
Perhaps this FPE melting and browning was related to the situation where the clocks continued to function - without requiring resetting - as if no power failure had occurred, when I flipped all the 15 and 20 amp breakers OFF and back ON.
I guess I can't say for sure.
The vertical rise motor in the treadmill doesn't raise the treadmill like it used to, so that motor is probably malfunctioning.
The previous owner(s) had wired a GFI backwards in one of the bathrooms, causing the outlets in the room next door to not function, yet the bathroom GFI still had power when the outlets in the room next door that were wired to the GFI did not have power.
Thanks again for your reply and your website. Your website - and our replacement panel - provides peace of mind for our family. Your website is a real service to mankind. I'm serious! I thank you sincerely.
What was funny is that a homeowners insurance auditor (a representative of our homeowners insurance company) showed up at our doorstep today - per chance - and I had the opportunity to explain to him about the hazard of FPE Stab-Lok® breakers, thanks to your website. He had never heard of that hazard/risk. I asked if he could bring this up with the insurance company - since homeowners that replace their FPE panels should get lower premiums due to lowered risk.
Do you happen to know of any insurance companies that offer lower premiums for houses that don't have FPE panels?
Bob W to DJF - Jan 2005
Colorado - Electrician FPE opinion - I recently purchased a home and I'm in the process of adding a home spa.
I contacted a licensed electrician to perform the electrical hook up. During our phone conversation he asked me what
type of electrical panel I had.
When I told him Federal Pacific he hesitated a moment and said "there have been
a number of problems associated with this type of panel". To make a long story short,
I had my home inspected in September of this year (2004) by an ASHI inspector. Should he have noticed this and brought it to my attention?]
I work in the Aircraft maintenance business and when we have components with a high failure rate we change them before an accident happens. Gary G. to DJF - Dec 2004
Georgia,FPE Failure Report - Atlanta
I have a home in Atlanta that has an 200 amp FPE panel and began experiencing problems several weeks ago with the circuit to my den.
My home was built in the 1940s. At any rate my problem was I overtaxed a circuit and the power was cut to this part of the house.
With the thought that I had 'tripped' the circuit, I go to the service to reset but guess what? it wasn't tripped! a flip to the off
position and back on didn't restore power. in fact it took a good 30 minutes or so for the power to 'self-restore'.
I figured I would not be able to find the circuit breakers for reasonable and assumed it was time to upgrade the service box
but discovered the circuit breakers availability at home depot. I guess I'm back to plans to change the service box out and hopefully real soon!!!!
At any rate, thanks for the information on the FPE line.
E Anthony S. to DJF - Dec 2004
California Severe House Fire Report -
I just found and read your articles about faulty circuit breaker boxes.
They were very interesting to me as our house in Madera California burned down in Oct of 1980 due to a faulty
Reliance/Exxon circuit breaker. (It didn't trip.) Our fire inspector was Sam Garza who found the problem.
Our insurance company (Farmers) ended up winning a lawsuit against Reliance/Exxon, the builder, and General
Electric because of the fire at our house. (It had to be completely rebuilt.) Thank you for your report and work.
Wendy D. to DJF - Sept 2004
Massachusetts Condo Replaces FPE panels, FPE Failure Report - I presented information on the
FPE problem to the condo association's annual
The trustees voted to
mandate replacement of all FPE breakers on the
premises. Of the 25 units in the complex, a manual
audit found that 21 of them had FPE Stab-Lok® breakers
at that time (not counting mine which had already
been replaced). The
association arranged for a group buy at a discount
with a local
electrical service company, and all the remaining
FPE breakers will be
gone by this May.
In addition, the electrical service company that
performed most of the replacements reported that
week they removed FPE breakers in a home in a
neighboring town after the homeowners noticed a
switch smoking. The FPE breaker had failed to trip,
and the owners summoned the fire department. If the
owners had not been home at the time, a fire likely
would have resulted. This incident reinforced to the residents in my
condominium complex that replacing the breakers, despite
the expense of more than $900 per unit, was indeed
the right decision to
On behalf of all the residents here, I would like to
thank you both for your continued efforts to make
people aware of the potential hazards of these
circuit breakers. Without
the information you provided, I could not have
initiated the removal of
all the breakers here.
Steve H to DJF - 4/04
Mississippi Stab Lok Failure Report - fire -
I ran across several Internet articles from Dan Friedman on FPE panels.
I investigated a fire that occurred on 3/8/04 in a home that contained one of these panels.
Unfortunately, the loss site is 70 miles away from where I live.
I am attempting to get permission from the Insurance Company to retrieve the panel.
I also have another case that involves two 100 ampere molded case Siemen circuit breakers.
I do not believe the failure to operate was the legacy cause of this fire - there was another panel box further down stream
(not recovered), and arcing was found on an extension cord connected to the second panel box.
However, the insurance company would like them tested, and I do not have the equipment.
Ray F., Ph.D. Electrical Engineer, Vicksburg to DJF - 4/04
FPE Trip failure report - I just replaced a Stab-Lok® panel on 2/04/04.
I've had some problems with breakers fail to trip.
This happened a few days ago and the electric
contractor informed me
about the panel.
Do you know if anyone put out a recall on this equipment? T Snyder to DJF - 02/04
FPE Breaker Bus Connection Failure Report - I was looking for a new breaker for the panel in my home, only to find that multiple web-sites suggest
it is a latent hazard! It is an FPE Stab-Lok® split bus panel, so I know it is older than the mid-eighties.
Last week I had an incident where a single pole 15 amp breaker "slipped" off the bus.
Without ever taking the cover off, I was switching breakers trying to find which one controlled a ceiling fixture.
I found it and removed the fixture (for painting).
That evening, I realized another circuit was dead.
After going down numerous wrong paths, I went to the panel and removed the cover. Only then did I
realize one of the breakers had popped slightly out of the bus. When I pushed it back into the bus, the circuit came back on.
However, the breaker is not, and will not stay, fully inserted into the bus. G.L. to DJF - 02/04
FPE breaker failure suspected -
Thank you for your informative article, Federal Pacific Electric Panels: Fires waiting to be ended.
I am now concerned about the box that is in my home. I have been living in it for the last 5 years and have recently had a problem with a heater
fan burning out and a possible problem with the circuit breaker.
I was going to replace the GFI breaker and was looking on line when
I found your article. The box that I have was installed sometime around 1985. I am not sure when the unit was manufactured but the ID number is
CP-943093. I would appreciate any advice that you could give me about whether or not I should replace the whole unit or how to determine
if it is safe or not.
Patrick B. to DJF - 09/03
FPE 20A breaker no trip at 4800V, shock report two separate failing locations -
I only have one of the double pole ones.
I was up on a ladder in 1995 and got too close to the 4800 volt primary at the top of the pole with an old metal case grounded drill.
It zapped me off the ladder.
When I got out of the hospital and was able to get around several months later,
I found that the branch circuit did not trip because of that. However, that is one of the reasons for the ground wire!
Yes, it was a FPE 20 amp breaker. But since the ground wire ran all the way back to the service, it did it's job.
I would have thought 4800 volts would have induced enough current in the 120 line to trip it.
I was frozen to the drill for a few seconds before blacking out and falling.
Today I came across your website. My mother has a home (built 1966) that had (was replaced) a
Federal-Pacific Stab-Lok® panel as well as aluminum wiring. We have had several failures in switches and outlets,
unfortunately, the defective devices were discarded. Michael J. M. to DJF - 07/03
Tennessee FPE Failure report, overheating Memphis - I read some of the WEB articles concerning problems with Federal Pacific electrical breaker panels.
I have recently replaced a 200 amp 120/240 volt panel in my home. The panel was replaced due to over heating.
Even with three central A/C, electric stove (four eyes & two
ovens) and drier running the electrician measured less than 200 amps on the panel.
Total measured was around 156 amps. [department and name deleted] Memphis Light Gas & Water to DJF - 07/03
Washington - Electrician denies FPE issue Seattle - Your website has been very helpful. I'm currently in the process of negotiating for a house built in 1940.
The home inspection identified the home's FPE electric panel as a latent safety hazard and recommended it be replaced.
We requested that the seller replace the FPE panel prior to closing.
We found out tonight, that seller claims they
have an electrician who has written a letter stating that there is no safety concern with the FPE panel and that it
does not need to be replaced. On your website you say "My advice to consumers who are faced with denials that this
equipment is a latent safety hazard to ask for that opinion in writing. To date I have not had any reports of a professional
who was willing to sign such a document.".
So it would appear that there may be one professional who is willing to sign "such a document".
Assuming that this panes out and that a licensed/bonded/insured electrician did write a letter stating that there are no safety
concerns with the FPE panel, what would be your
advice to me? In your opinion, do you think the electrician has accepted liability he is wrong?
In your opinion, do you think the electrician is liable if he is wrong? Thomas W. to DJF - 06/03
California FPE Failure Report Los Angeles - I am an electrical Contractor in California, and I recently ran across
the Federal Pacific Electrical Panel with older "1970's" Stab-Lok® breakers. Here is the story.
The homeowner complained that a 220V circuit in the Play Room (separate
from the main house) was inoperative.
When I investigated, I found the
two wires laying in the service panel with no Circuit Breaker to
attached them to. Someone had previously removed them.
So, I tried to buy two 20 AMP Stab-Lok® breakers at the local Home Depot
suitable for the new Air Con, but they do not carry them. I then did a
search on the internet and found your site
https://InspectAPedia.com/fpe/FPE_Stab_Lok_Hazards.php which alerted me to a
possible problem and I informed the homeowner to that affect.
I asked the homeowner to call the Los Angeles Department of Water and
Power to have the Lock Ring removed so I could remove the Meter to
upgrade the Panel.
However, when the homeowner called the Local Department of Water and
Power (DWP), and they sent out two guys to look at the situation.
removed the Lock Ring from the 100 Amp Service Meter, and then
proceeded, trying to assist the homeowner's complaint, they connected
the two circuit wires to a 40 amp Stab-Lok® circuit breaker which feeds
the subpanel into the main house. In affect, each of the 40 amp breakers
(see note below) now has two wires attached. The homeowner was
delighted that the DWP solved the problem, and call to inform me that
the problem was solved.
I dropped what I was doing and went to inspect what the DWP had done. I
couldn't believe it. The homeowner was adamant that I was incompetent
or just trying to rip them off. I had originally told them that the job
would cost around $120.00 to correct. The potential for failure is now
greatly increased on this 40 Amp circuit, with circuit breakers that are
prone to failure. If the house burns down, the DWP will be liable.
Note: the Main House can draw as much as 60 amps during normal use, and
the New Air Con is rated at 12 Amps.
Tomorrow I will try to remedy this situation, but it won't be easy.
Gerald C.P. - Electrical Contractor, to DJF - 05/03, photos provided.
Colorado FPE Fire, breaker meltdown report - electrician Colorado Springs - I am an electrician in colorado springs. While moving a single pole breaker in a federal stab lock panel it caught fire. It completely melted the buss bar and smoked the homeowners home. It appears to be a buss bar failure. We kept all the parts.
In one of your articles I think you mentioned an attorney who might be pursuing this. Do you know of anyone who would be interested in this. We also have onsite pictures.
Bill J. to DJF - 04/03 photos available
California FPE problems - Electrician Berkeley - I'm an electrical contractor in the SF Bay Area and have a lot of exposure to FPE panels.
I will not work on one nor add any circuits to it unless the client absolutely cannot afford to replace it,
and even then only with a letter of release of liability.
I did one service change for clients in Berkeley, where they were getting some very strange electrical behaviors,
odd dimming and brightening of lights, trouble with computers, etc. until half the house went dead. They had a 100A,
240V main (FPE) in which one hot leg was very hot to touch, discoloration and cracking of the outer shell of the breaker,
the breaker handle in the 'on' position, and the other hot leg open.
It appeared that there had possibly been an overload
condition on the one hot leg, the breaker had tried to trip and had jammed, and the clients had moved a lot of their loads
to the other hot leg creating an overload condition on it. The breaker was not tripping. Pretty much the classic FPE failure.
By the way, what's with the [host: "InspectAPedia.com" is not authorized]? Are you under some pressure from some corporate entity or what?
Thank you for having this info available. I give copies of it to my clients. Pietsa H. - electrician, to DJF - 03/03
Mississippi - FPE opinion - electrician Ocean Springs -
I was going to install a 50 amp breaker to run my Lincoln welding machine on and could not locate any in the
local electrical supply stores. Since reading your articles on Federal Electric, I have contacted a local electrician
who says he has heard of problems with these panels but does not have any firsthand experience with them.
He said he would change the panel out if he were me, so he is going to give me an estimate.
Jim S. to DJF - 03/03
Colorado FPE Fire report Colorado Springs -
My house (in the Old Holland Park development of Colorado Springs, CO) was built in the 1961/63 time frame.
I am about the third owner of the house, having acquired it in 1985. My electric load panel is a FPE Load-Lok with a
100 amp main (double pole), 50 amp electric range (double pole), 30 amp electric dryer (double pole), and several 15/20
amp (single pole) breakers. My guess is that most buildings (hundreds) in this housing development have the same type electric load panel .
Recently, my electric dryer quit. On inspection, I found the vent had plugged and a fire had occurred inside the dryer which
was caused by one leg of the heater element being shorted out to the wet lint backup in the vent. The dryer 30 amp, 2 pole,
breaker had not tripped. The shorted leg of the heating element had burned open (which probably saved us).
Some clothes were beyond use and the dryer had to be replaced.
Also, we recently installed a window air conditioner in the master bedroom.
We have used it plugged into a 15 amp wall duplex. At first it would trip the breaker
if anything else plugged into the circuit was turned on. So we made sure that no other
appliances on the circuit were in use when the AC was in operation.
Recently, I checked
it by turning on other appliances with the AC in operation. The 15 amp breaker did not trip
but the AC seemed to load down when the compressor came on. Turning off other appliances on
the circuit made the AC resume normal operation. In the test, the circuit breaker did not trip.
From that test, I decided to install a dedicated circuit for the AC and began a search for a FPE Load-Lok circuit breaker for it.
Having no luck locally, decided to check the Internet for the breaker, where I found all the problems associated with FPE Load-Lok panels/breakers.
John J. to DJF - 02/03
-to DJF -
Consumer concern with CPSC FPE position -
I read your message to building inspectors. Apparently, the inspector
who went over my house (20 years old now) had not read it, or chose not
to tell me that we now are the proud owners of two FPE panels. I was
looking to add a new 240 circuit, now it appears I would be better
served having my entire distribution system replaced. Thank you for
alerting me to the possible dangers associated with this old equipment.
I must say I was and am alarmed by the Consumer Product Safety
Commission 's response. Their "Solution" to this problem is one of the
most ridiculous I've seen. I have had fuses blow and I've been able to
explain the overload before resetting the switch. I was just plain
lucky when my dryer died. I remember thinking it odd that only 1 of
the breakers went. I reset the breaker after replacing the heating
coil, everything is fine now, but for how long? Perry E. to DJF - 11/98
FPE no trip, slapping conductor report - electricians -
I'd like to ask you a physics question.
What makes conductors flop around violently in a bolted fault condition?
Last weekend I jointed a group of electricians and home inspectors
gathered together to witness first hand the failure of an infamous
FPE(Federal Pacific Electric) breaker to open in a fault condition.
When the breaker was turned on and strangely, only with full
voltage (with power off VOM did not detect fault), there would be a severe fault.
Severe enough to cause the wires in the sub-feed conduit and the
overhead service conductors to bounce around wildly. One of the home
inspectors asked me what was happening. I knew it had something to do
with motor action but found myself hemming and hawing to explain it.
Can you describe what happens?
to Redwood Kardon to DJF 13 Feb 97
Colorado FPE Failure report Colorado Springs -
My house (in the Old Holland Park development of Colorado Springs, CO) was built in the 1961/63 time frame. I am about the third owner of the house, having acquired it in 1985. My electric load panel is a FPE Load-Lok with a 100 amp main (double pole), 50 amp electric range (double pole), 30 amp electric dryer (double pole), and several 15/20 amp (single pole) breakers. My guess is that most buildings (hundreds) in this housing development have the same type electric load panel .
Recently, my electric dryer quit. On inspection, I found the vent had plugged and a fire had occurred inside the dryer which was caused by one leg of the heater element being shorted out to the wet lint backup in the vent. The dryer 30 amp, 2 pole, breaker had not tripped. The shorted leg of the heating element had burned open (which probably saved us). Some clothes were beyond use and the dryer had to be replaced.
Also, we recently installed a window air conditioner in the master bedroom.
We have used it plugged into a 15 amp wall duplex. At first it would trip the breaker if anything else plugged into the circuit was turned on. So we made sure that no other appliances on the circuit were in use when the AC was in operation. Recently, I checked it by turning on other appliances with the AC in operation. The 15 amp breaker did not trip but the AC seemed to load down when the compressor came on.
Turning off other appliances on the circuit made the AC resume normal operation. In the test, the circuit breaker did not trip. From that test, I decided to install a dedicated circuit for the AC and began a search for a FPE Load-Lok circuit breaker for it. Having no luck locally, decided to check the Internet for the breaker, where I found all the problems associated with FPE Load-Lok panels/breakers.
John J. to DJF -
Cleveland FPE Failure report Electrician -
I am a state licensed electrician in Cleveland. For years I have heard the legend that FPE wouldn't trip.
About 10 years ago, I had a pair of Klein short handled needle nose pliers that I was using to remove a KO in the bottom of an old FPE breaker panel. I went inside the enclosure, tapped the KO outwards, grabbed it with my needle nose and twisted rapidly and forcefully.
I didn't know the side of a #10 wire of a dryer circuit was pushing outwards at the hole opening. It became trapped in my twisting motion.
A massive WWAAAAUUUUGGGGHHHHH arcing noise ensued and then stopped. The wire burned apart from the dead short I produced, burned a big notch in my pliers, and when I went to inspect the circuit it was still live. The 30 amp 2 pole FPE breaker turned steel to molten metal on my pliers in a dead short but did not trip.
Gary H C - Electrician to DJF - 2/11/03
Pennsylvania FPE breaker failure -
I recently installed a ceiling fan and accidentally shorted the circuit, and no breaker kicked.
Frank R. to DJF - 2/4/03
Washington FPE intermittent trip -
I had a GFI circuit breaker that was a Federal Pacific breaker go bad. It did trip but works intermittently.
I took it out because I was afraid of a fire. I have another situation too that when I put a load on one of my
outlets my bedroom light goes dim. Scary. Now that I am looking into this breaker I am seeing all of the dangers of
fire and breakers not tripping.
What do you suggest I do? I saw something about a class action lawsuit but saw no information about it. Also when
I went to purchase a new breaker before I heard of the dangers of this style Home Depot was going to charge $225.00
for the breaker. Outrageous.
Jeremy J to DJF - 1/3/03
FPE possible fire report - A gal in her 90's had an electrical fire a few nights ago. She is one of those eccentric ladies with at least a
dozen cats and otherwise lives alone out on an isolated hilltop; appears to be financially destitute and is known
to be grieving the recent death of her "life partner" of 37 years.
The dirt road to her unkempt little house is
steep & treacherous & the region has entered another "el nino" period of wind & rain. She's an old
Irish-American radical that goes by the name of Grace because that is the translation of her Gaelic name.
She self-publishes a local political newsletter that appears every now and then in the
village library. She's a "live" one. I was contacted by someone at the Fire Dept who knew
that I would take a personal interest and make sure that Grace was safe.
I removed a burned-up 240v electrical baseboard heater & discovered that the circuit remains hot with the main switched off. After spending hours examining the rest of this cat box [inside & out, in the dark, late night, wind & rain] I concluded that I would not be able
to sleep until I fixed the damn panel. She made me a cup of tea & put some "organic"
shortbread cookies in my jacket pocket.
I have no money. I have a big family. I was working two full-time jobs and moonlighting as
a handyman & Mac Guru. I know... I know. Can't work like that for long. My real job evaporated & so did the electrical contractor. Now I am a country handyman out in the with a big family & real money problems. I want to help Grace...but how? I'd like to find a SAFE replacement breaker. I don't have the bucks for a new service. She will be gone soon & someone will bulldoze the hilltop. And it will still smell like cats.
Any cheap replacement breakers available for these panels? It is a 200 amp (double throw 100 amp) Federal Pacific Electric breaker. Apprx 2" wide x 4-1/4" tall. Can I put something else in there? I've only installed/upgraded on a dozen or so panels. I am careful & cautious &
Brian C. to DJF - 12/24/00
California home inspectors discuss FPE - The other day, I heard the most amazing FPE story yet. I'm at the IAEI conference in Hawaii.
A bunch of us were sitting around talking about test labs, and somehow the old FPE story came up.
I had always presumed that the deal was FPE submitting one kind of breaker to UL, and then manufacturing it another way,
and that was how they lost the right to put the UL label on them for a time. In fact, it appears to have been much worse,
if the following story can be believed.
FPE constructed their own test facility for UL's benefit, and used it for the short
circuit testing on their breakers. The facility had a false floor with apparatus for shunting some of the test current.
They knew their breakers would fail the usual short circuit testing, so they fraudulently constructed their own apparatus to cheat UL.
This story comes from people who say they were there.
This story really helps to put in perspective that experiment that Alan, John, and I did a few years ago,
where the FPE breakers wouldn't trip even though the service wires were whipping around from the high currents being carried through those breakers.
I used to think they were just awful, the worst piece of "value engineering" ever created, obsolete,
prone to failure from the heat created at that awful bus stab, and that maybe they cut a few corners
in the breaker manufacturing. Now I know that they're really much worse. Douglas Hansen to DJF - 10/22/00
FPE fails to trip -
I had the fusses in our home replaced by a Federal Pacific panel and breakers approx. 25 years ago.
There have been 3 occasions when I thought the breaker should have tripped and it did not.
The last time this happened was about 3 weeks ago. I consulted a electrician and he stated
that these breakers are defective and should be replaced.
I will be replacing them soon and
wondered if you would be interested in the old panel and breakers and also if I have any recourse
to collect the cost of replacement from Federal Pacific/Reliance Elct.
Steve S. to DJF - 8/19/02
FPE Fire report -
We had a fire in my home Tues. due to over-current and FPE Stab-Lock Panel 100amp service.
The panel failed to trip and fire occurred within a wall. We have been in this home one month.
The home was inspected and we were given no warning about FPE panel. Our electrician, fire department,
and insurance companies have told us about Federal Pacific.
Our inspector has taken the position he had no obligation to warn us of this matter.
to DJF - 7/12/02
California FPE dryer circuit no trip Home Inspector -
This one on Golden Gate ASHI's BB was a good one:
Doing an inspection least week, I found a Federal Pacific main panel with Stablok breakers in place.
No service disconnect, house not occupied, so I decided to trip some breakers. I tripped a 50 amp breaker to the
kitchen oven and microwave unit in a newly remodeled kitchen.
The breaker clicked to the off position with no problem,
but the circuit stayed hot. Tripped it off and on several times and no change or loss of power to the oven set.
I then tried the dryer circuit. Tripped a 30 amp breaker to the dryer and then checked outlet with a stinger and
found this circuit was still hot. Two out of three two pole breakers were faulty.
That's scary if you think of a
home! owner doing some repairs and modifications to something and expecting the circuit to be dead after flipping the
breakers off. These things just don't work properly.
Dave at Metro to DJF - 6/24/02
New York 40A breaker failure Long Island -
My cook top (magic Chef) and oven are on a 40 Amp double pole breaker.
It appears that the Infinite switch on the cook top got shorted/damaged as a result the 40 amp ckt tripped a few times.
Once rest it worked fine. But the last time, I reset the 40 Amp breaker, it arced and charred the contact points
Thomas to DJF - 6/2/2002
California FPE Main Breaker failure Oakdale -
I had heard that there were problems with FPE breakers and boxes in the past but never gave it much thought until about 2 months ago.
I replaced my home's main electrical panel (an old FPE circa 1970's) with a new Square D panel (and breakers of course) because the
main breaker (100A) would constantly trip when the clothes dryer and the oven would be on at the same time.
None of the other breakers
would trip, just the main!. (Never did figure out for sure what was causing this problem, but suspect the main itself was weak).
All my testing showed that every other breaker was ok, although I never did try an intentional short test to see if the smaller breakers
would trip. Glenn M to DJF -
Minnesota FPE breaker failure Home Inspector -
This is the first FP breaker that I have actually seen that went bad. Now I am a believer. The load on this circuit was
a medium sized refrig./freezer and a counter top (est 1000w) microwave. As you can see the breaker was still ON.
I am asking to get it, but I don't know if I will. You are free to use the photos, just credit to me. This was in a quad unit
townhouse, built 1979, Bloomington, MN.
R Hankey to DJF - 3/25/02
Hankey and Brown home inspectors, Eden Prairie, MN, technical contribution by Roger Hankey, prior chairman, Standards Committee, American Society of Home Inspectors - ASHI. 952 829-0044 - hankeyandbrown.com 11/06, 07/07.
Federal Pioneer Failure Canada -
I have a Federal Pioneer panel in my house with stab lock breakers.
On two separate occasions breakers have failed to trip under a short circuit condition.
One was a 15A single pole and the other was a 20A double pole.
I am quite concerned about this and have looked to the internet for information on recalls.
The breakers I have do not have any number stamped in them. The CSA sticker says, TYPE NC.
I called FP and was basically told that the breakers must be worn out.
They had no interest in my problem what so ever.
Dan D to DJF - 2/4/02
FPE no trip at water heater Electrician -
Approx 4 years ago I had a maintenance contract with a property management firm.
The properties were either older, inner-city homes or poorly-built condo/apartments.
One particular apartment complex was wired with the double-whammy of Federal Pacific panels and breakers and aluminum wire.
The problem was that the electric water heater was not producing, so an investigation led me to badly burned
terminals both at the thermostat and the 30A FP breaker.
Consultation with two licensed electricians suggested I replace the thermostat using no-al-ox @
the connections, and they led me to a source for rebuilt FP breakers, with the express suggestion that total replacement w/ a copper system was best.
Naturally, a property manager would never spend more than absolutely necessary.
I have also seen cases where well-meaning but un-educated folks used cheaper non-aluminum
rated devices in these properties. No fires on my watch, but I always tried to check for that when painting or doing other appropriate tasks.
It was an easy fix for flickering lights, too, to change to the rated switch.
DC to DJF - 12/9/01
FPE fire report -
I recently purchased a home with a Federal Pacific service panel.
My home inspector advised me of possible problems with FP panels and
we made the purchase of the home contingent on the panel passing inspection by a licensed electrician.
Well last night I plugged in the heat cable to prevent our water pipes from freezing.
About 5 am I awoke to the smell of burning plastic. I traced the smell to the crawl space.
There I found that one of the cables had shorted and burned back about 3 or 4 feet to the plug.
I don't know how close this was to burning the entire house down, but I suspect it was close.
I am not overly surprised that a heat cable shorted. I am very surprised that the smoke alarm did not sound.
My main question is whether the circuit breaker should have tripped.
I can't imagine that the shorted heat cable would not have drawn less that the 20A rating of the breaker.
Especially given the extent of the burning.
Larry C. to DJF - 11/27/00
FPE 150 A main failure - 11/10/01
I recently had to replace a main 150amp breaker
at my townhouse in Weymouth MA.
Out of several electricians that came to look at
the problem all [including my brother-in-law]
said I was in for a world of trouble.
My brother-in law went as far as to say to me that FPE in his experience stands for
FIRE PROTECTION ELIMINATED!
When I passed this on to the condo association I was told it is an owners problem not THEIRS.
So 5 day's later with no power I manage to have a breaker fed-x ed from Nevada.
When the tech came to install it he called me at work and said he was having a real hard time removing the
defective breaker and could only see my bill growing with every minuet he spent trying to remove the breaker.
So i came home and being a chef of over 20 years
and having no real knowledge of breakers or the panels that house them was taken back by what i saw, the old
breaker was almost frozen to the panel and was in pretty bad shape. so the tech and i decided that if WD-40 couldn't
loosen the thing i was going to have to have it tap-n-deyed[not sure i got that right].for a lot more money, to make a
long painful story short I snapped the thing off the panel [not to smart I know but I was getting pretty done with the
whole thing ].
If I had received this info sooner I would have held on to what was left of FPE TYPE-NEJ 240 VOLT 150AMP breaker and sent it to you ASAP.
The inside of that breaker was in incredible condition, the rust was unbelievable it was like opening a rotten peanut.
So the tech looks at me after the job was done and says that I'm probably going to be the lucky one in this condo-commune,
when I asked him why he said that every unit in this place has the same faulty
breakers in them, then pointed out the panel under mine and you could see that the thing was heading in the same
direction as mine.
Should I pass this on to my neighbors? I don't want to get in trouble with the condo people.
But I believe after many e-mails from my sister about FPE that something worse is going to happen.
JOSEPH A. B. to DJF -
FPE anecdotal FPE failure report Philadelphia Electrician- I have been a practicing electrician in Philadelphia for 15 years and have experienced some anecdotal evidence of
problems with the FP single pole breakers... in each case, large scale fire involvement of the homes was prevented only by
metallic wall cases which contained fire until the conductors themselves had melted "open", thus interupting current flow.
The circuit breakers remained ON!
One must be concerned about the possibility of overheating in concealed portions of cables,
though, where structural framing will be in direct contact with conductors. I usually "go out on a limb" and recommend
to clients that they replace FP panels, even if they haven't experienced such problems. Paul L - electrician to DJF - 10/13/01
West Virginia FPE A/C, Main, sputtering circuit Failure report Morgantown-
I have had a problem with FPE panel in my home which I purchase 2 years ago.
I was not aware of problems with these panels and was never informed that they are unsafe.
On sept.13, 2001 my central air conditioner failed. I assumed that the problem was with the air conditioner and
began by checking the simple things like the capacitor. On sept. 16 my son started the electric cloths dryer and
I lost power to about 65% of my home.
I checked the breaker panel and to my amazement found that none of the breakers had tripped.
I inspected the outlet to the dryer and found that one of the screws which attaches the outlet to the wall had come
lose and fallen inside the outlet. I assumed that this is what caused the short and loss of power to my home.
On further inspection I have found that the problem lies with the 100 amp main breaker which crackles and sputters
and is not passing enough current.
Gregory F Research Scientist to DJF - 9/18/01
FPE breaker not resetting - I am a residential owner who recently had a refrigerator trip my FPE circuit breaker.
When I could not keep the breaker in the on position (it trip again after I reset it and plugged in a small b/w TV)
I called a couple electricians for estimates for replacing a breaker. I was told that FPE products were taken off the market.
One electrician carefully explained that there have been some safety issues and that I should consider replacing my panel.
My home was built in 1976. Carol Ann G to DJF - 7/18/01
FPE fire report in outdoor panel, local transformer blows -
We had to call the fire department today. Everything is okay. It is an outdoor panel.
Since I found out this make of CB panel is faulty, I had an electrician come out to give an estimate to replace the panel.
He left and we had lunch. I had the panel off the panel to show the electrician so went to go put it back on before I went
to work. Just as I was screwing down the panel it blew up and flames shot out. It kept on arcing and buzzing. It kept on
going and the main breaker didn't trip.
Finally I heard a power line fuse blow somewhere in the neighborhood and it finally stopped .
the CB panel was on fire for less than half a minute. We called the fire department anyways. They came out and left.
The power guys came out. They found out the line fuse blew, they also had to replace a transformer and some other thing.
Part of the neighborhood was without power for four hours.
We were able to get some electricians to replace the breaker box in a few hours. The Loveland power guy said,
the transformer blew because it was low on oil. The line fuse would not have blown just because of our house, but the bad
transformer went out because our house was the last straw. It probably would have went something this summer. If the
transformer hadn't been bad, the line fuse would not have blown and we would have had a much more serious fire.
The Lord knew what was going on and provided the right chain of events to protect the house, family and myself.
I was almost touching the circuit breaker panel when it blew. In fact I can't figure out why I wasn't touching it.
I wish I read this article a few months earlier.
Matt to DJF - 5/14/01
FPE PANEL tripping in mobile home -
My neighbor has a 1974 mobile home, the FPE panel is fed by two AL wires from the outside main.
The Main breaker switch on the panel has been tripping during operation of - or when turning up the theromostat on - the furnace.
The circuit breakers (4-ganged to two of 2 ea.) have not been tripping. Only the Main trips.
An electrician was summoned and he informed us that the AL wires were "...loose and just needed to be tightened, that'll take care of your problem." It did not and I identified the panel and did a search, and was led to your web page.
Thank you again for your web page , it's succinct and coherent information well-presented.
Needless to say, we are searching for another electrical craftsman to come address the AL wire and FPE problems.
I need not stress the fire hazard in a mobile home, plus the panel is in her bedroom, which has no door to exit.
Ian C to DJF - 5.2.01
North Carolina FPE Condo fire - consumer reports FPE contact Chapel Hill-
PLease see the original message below regarding my contact with FPE/Reliance Electric over my concerns about FPE Stab-loc breakers.
From your website, you mention that you or someone is intersted in obtaining actual field samples of the FPE panels.
Since I sent the original letter, we have had the FPE panel replace by a SquareD panel.
The FPE panel had 4 2-pole breakers and about 10 single pole breakers.
FPE called me in response to my attached e-mail. Their response is what would be expected from a company not wanting to volunteer any liability.
They stated the summary report from Aronstein at Wright VM Malta was not intended for public release, and thus they do not acknowledge its existence.
FPE told me they have done the same tests, but when asked for a copy of their test reports, they stated they didn't have them. FPE has also offered to test all the breakers IAW UL 489 and allow me to watch the tests. Since FPE is close to our home, I would do that if you are not interested in the box. The box also has a black flash burn from an electrical short at some time. It is on the single pole side of the box, and we have no knowledge of when it happened.
[cc of original email]
I am inquiring about the reliability of FPE Circuit breakers used in household applications. It is my understanding that Reliance Electric purchased the company making FPE Stab-loc breakers and panels for home use about 20 years ago. The data that I have been able to gather is that these breakers, especially the 2-pole 220/240 volt types are not considered reliable if they have been tripped, manually operated, or a high current exists on only one pole.
I am especially concerned because my daughter owns a condominium that is adjacent to a unit that caught on fire in late November 2000, and when we inspected her unit, the 220v breaker for her range was open. It is not clear if it tripped, or was manually openened, but the reconstruction contractor replaced the 220 volt line to the range. Reading the literature available on the internet (InspectAPedia.com/fpe/FPE_Stab_Lok_Hazards.php) I am etremely concerned that the breaker box in her unit is unsafe.
This article points out that in addition to not tripping, the double pole breaker can sometimes trip on overload and not end in the imtermediate position, but in the position of a manually tripped breaker.
Data contained CPSC-C-81-1429 December 30, 1982 documents the unreliable performance of these breakers, and the Reliace Electric quarterly report dated March 31, 1982 documents (Note C - Contingencies) liability Reliance incurred from these breakers. Even though the CSPC release of March 3, 1983 concluded the investigation with no further action, any prudent person would not consider using these breakers, especially if they had been subjected to overload.
I am interested in what programs Reliance Electric has to correct these problems.
I have tried calling various numbers for Reliance Electric obtained from your web site to no avail.
Gary C to DJF - 3/5/01
FPE 20A single pole fail to trip electrician -
I have probably 20+ breakers and at least one panel that I have removed when upgrading electric service.
I had kept them for spares since replacement FPE two pole breakers cost over $65 each.
After reading your articles and seeing tests, I have no interest in subjecting my customers
to the risks involved and will recomment to them complete panel replacement.
Also, I have seen one instance where the FPE breaker failed to trip when a outdoor outlet's metal coverplate
(with flip doors) shifted, dropping across the two prongs of the plug that was inserted into it.
The plug was almost completely burned away, the coverplate burnt and two rows of bricks (approx 6")
were blackened, and the breaker did not trip.
I did basic current limiting tests on the breaker
(and all others in the panel). The 20A single pole breakers, including the one that failed to trip,
all tripped within two minutes at 23 amps. My conclusion was that the breaker probably has a different
characteristic on a dead short load. Norb F to DJF - 1/3/01
FPE modular home failure - Dear Sir, I came across your article over the net concerning the hazards of FPE Breaker Boxes. We
bought a modular home in July of 1999, which was constructed in 1974. When we had the house inspected we were told that
it would be a good idea to up-grade the breaker box in the future. Over the past 2 weeks we have had power failure occur
in our home approx. 6 times. On every occassion except one, none of the breakers shut off, either did the main.
contacted our electric company and they told us thaat as long as we are getting power to the house, that the problem is
ours. On the occassions when the power outages occured there was no excessive use place upon the system and the only way
to regain power was to turn the main off and then on again.
We have since contacted 2 electricians who have told us that
the problem is with the breaker box. We intend on replacing it soon, but what I dont understand is why we should have a
complete loss of power, with no breakers tripped, not even the main? The breaker box is a model M120-40-200G, 200amp
max, 120/240 volts a.c., 1 phase 3 wire 40 max breaker pole. Bob R to DJF - 12/11/2000
FPE near fire on A/C unit - I had a near fire at home due to a FPE breaker on my A/C unit. I am wondering
if there is a class action lawsuit against Reliance concerning this. Brad M to DJF - 7/20/00
FPE Single pole failure - I had a single pole 20 amp circuit breaker cut off power to two kitchen
outlets, but it didn't trip the breaker in the panel. My wife overloaded the circuit with a deep fryer, toaster oven and
microwave at the same time. I also have a GFI on the circuit.
The house is twenty years old and I have been replacing
the outlets and switches around the house. Now it looks like I should also replace the entire panel, instead of just
installing new replacement FPE breakers. oceanengineer to DJF - 7/7/2000
FPE Fire report - Last June 1999 we had a house fire that started in the basement of our home. According
to the insurance company the reason was due to a faulty light fixture. My husband wanted to know why the breaker never
The insurance explanation was that over time (the house was built in 1979) the wiring gets old and the
resistance is lower, etc.
We are back in the house now and are needing outdoor electrical line run for an outdoor
project. The electrician told us that the breaker panel we have is FPE. In addition, he says the electrical box is 15%
overloaded now and needs to be replaced in order to add more electrical circuits.
The construction company that
rebuilt our house say that the panel was not damaged in the fire and passed the county inspection so advised our
insurance company not to replace the FPE panel installed in 1979.
What would you suggest we do now? Both my husband
and I are not wanting to suffer through another fire. We thought the insurance company would want to know about the FPE
panels. Apparently not. Danielle B to DJF - 7/7/00
Oregon FPE failure report - Jekyll. I've had the same experience as you in the public housing projects.
Everyone claims that the Stab-Lok® panels work great.
Then in March of this year, I was inspecting a project
in Vancouver, when the manager was paged to respond to a fire that had just started in one of the units! Hot Damn! It
was the 2-pole breaker for the clothes dryer that caught on fire. The bus bar was just about black in places. (I now
have that Stab-Lok® panel to show non-believers).
Jekyll. Two days later, our chapter had a speaker from a company
that tests and recycles used and rare circuit breakers. He had tested thousands of breakers and insisted that Federal
Pacific breakers did not perform any more poorly than any other old breakers. He agreed that the bus design was crummy.
Hyde. Last year, I was inspecting a run-down shack that a friend of mine had just bought. He buys several
properties a year to turn around for a quick buck and had hired me to tell him whether to fix it up or bulldoze it. We
had just about decided on the dozer when I spied a Stab-Lok® panel with its cover missing and cut live wires sticking out
of it like a porcupine.
I asked if we could do an experiment. We laid a pipe across an ironing board and touched the
live wires to it. It made a dandy welder. We could make arcs all day and that breaker stayed in the on position like a
real champ. Six out of the ten breakers in the panel behaved that way. The other four tripped reliably over and over. Jim to DJF - 5/14/00
New Jersey FPE failure - dryer circuit Freehold - It seems that one of the curitcuit breakers that starts
the electric dryer burned out. According to the appliance repairman 220 0r was it 240 volts should be coming through.
All he could get was 120 or 110. He said that one of the breakers burned. That the breakers were are Federal Pacific
aluminum wiring. tuneefish4 to DJF - April 23, 2000
Texas FPE groan failure report Seabrook - In December, while having some electrical work done by an
electrician, we became aware of the problems associated with this panel. While working, the electrician inadvertently
touched two wires together, causing the breaker to trip. What struck our attention, was the loud "groan" that preceded
the actual failure and the delay of the electricity shutting down.
When this occurred, the electrician asked if we had a Federal Pacific Breaker Box. We did not know the make of the box,
but quickly checked.
Yes,we did indeed. The electrician then cautioned us about the problems associated with the Panel
and suggested we replace it. Being a skeptic, I went to the internet, found your articles as well as others and within a
week we had scheduled the replacement. Our community requires a building inspector visit the site upon completion.
Imagine my surprise when he told me that several homes in our community of less than 4,000 had caught fire in 1999, one
having burned just the week before. He stated that the breaker panels were suspect in several of these fires. Joyce
P to DJF - 2/18/2000
FPE trip failure, power loss - Installed in my house is a FPE Stab-Lok® Control Panel. The catalog number
is L120-40, with 200 Amps. Max and 120/240 volts A.C. 1 Phase 3 Wire. The issue number is A-7493.
My path to new found knowledge/fears began when I discovered that my toddler son's room no longer had power to his
electrical components (an lit overhead fan and a carbon monoxide detector). I inspected the circuit breakers and found
that none of the breakers were tripped.
I manually tripped the circuit for that room and then proceeded to inspect the
outlets and one switch in the room.
All of the outlets and the switch appeared to be in operating condition. I also
looked at the connection to the ceiling fan and found nothing out of the ordinary. I thus concluded that perhaps I had
the misfortune of having a circuit breaker that may have missed quality control standards. When I connected to the
internet I lost my breathe. I was confounded to learn that I may be consistently placing my family in harms way because
an electrical device that is installed in our house to protect us from mishap, may ultimately cause our demise.
if my scenario is a common one with families across North America. It outrages me that a country that prides itself on
having such high standards for human life and safety would not only allow something like this to go on , but to
investigate it and not follow through on the findings. My bottom line is that I would like to contact Federal Pacific
Electrical myself and began dialog with them. I have not been able to find a web-site or address other than an attorney.
It seems a bit too late to hold anyone accountable for deliberately distributing defective equipment after lives have
been lost. The manufacturer of these products needs to be held publicly accountable. Charles P to DJF - 2/8/00
Texas FPE double pole AC circuit - won't stay on - I've lived in my house for 3 years now and have had to replace my A/C breaker every year. its a Stab-Lok® 70amp double throw breaker. after reading your web page, i'm wondering if i should keep replacing it or get a
the other breakers work fine, never had a problem. today it went out again.
its cold(for texas) and when i got home it was showing 66 so i set it for 78 and it ran for alittle while than stopped. bone to DJF - 1/26/00
Ohio FPE Failure report Tiffin - I work as a service tech. for a local residential HVAC company. A
couple of months ago I came across some information on the internet regarding the hazards of the FPE breakers. I
mentioned this to my boss and several other co-workers who all dismissed it. Last week I was working on an electric
furnace which is in a mobile home. This home has a 200 amp FPE entrance panel in it, with a 100 amp breaker for the
furnace. As it turned out, the breaker was weak and would not hold.
The customer called around and to my surprise was
able to find a 100 amp FPE breaker at a home improvement/lumber yard in the next town. They went and bought it and I
installed it. All 4 banks of heaters were at 21 amps while running and the blower was at 6 amps for a total amp draw of
90 amps. This morning they called in and said the fire dept. just left. I went over and found that something had caused
a short on the terminal block for the electric entering the furnace and the new breaker in the panel never tripped.
Thankfully he was up and heard the noise and was able to turn off the main breaker and extinguish the fire before any
structural damage occurred or worse. I did take pictures of it in case you are interested in seeing them.
short occurred before the two breakers in the furnace (service shut-off breakers that are another brand) but should have
been protected by the 100amp FPE breaker which was feeding the electric to the furnace. The service shut-off breakers,
at least the one, seems to have functioning properly. The short inside the furnace actually melted a hole in the bottom
of the box and a piece of a screw fell across a connection below and tripped the one breaker. However, the FPE 100amp
breaker in the panel NEVER tripped. Tim D to DJF - 12/28/99 [Photos available]
FPE Overheat report home inspector - A few weeks ago in my class at the College of San Mateo I spoke
about Federal Pacific breakers, explaining the problems of insufficient space, loose bus bars, the difference between "E"
and "F" type breakers, and the failure to trip.
One of the students, an inspector for a local jurisdiction, inspected a
remodel the next day, and noticed that it had an old FPE panel. He made the contractor pull all the breakers so he could
inspect the bus bars, and - you guessed it - there was a large scorch mark behind the breakers.
At this point the
contractor thinks the inspector is a genius, and volunteers to replace the panel (despite having recently paid $90 apiece
for two replacement breakers). The panel ended up in my office, and I am forwarding it to Kevin to add to the displays
in the Oceanside classroom. D Hansen to DJF - 12/1/99
Quebec FPE Failure report - Yesterday night, I looked in my electric incoming (I bought my new house this
spring wich is a Anglo-Saxon type that Alcan builded in 1940 with copper wiring) and I found that it's a Federal Pionneer
Ltd Stab-Lok® NC type breakers with black actuator pins wich is exactly what is mentionned in your web page. Funny is'nt
I tested a breaker (15A) that seem bizarre to me where the circuit desserve all the second floor (in that time, the
spread of circuits was at the minimum).
There was a air conditionner, air dryer and lamps where total amperage was 22.6
on a breaker of 15 A. I waited a few minutes and the breaker never tripped. Same thing on a kitchen circuit where
frequently I plugged the toaster and the boiler on the same circuit and it nerver tripped. Pierre C to DJF -
FPE PANEL - Fire report - We sustained a horrible fire in January of this year. It was stated by the
fire officials in our county that it was a BX blow out. Electrical wiring in the wall. We did have a FP elctrical panel
at the time. We were later told that the fire may not have occured IF the FP electrical panel had done its job of
"shutting" activity down so to speak. We have spoken to many electricians in the interim and were told that FP
electrical panel was a horror.
I was wondering if there had ever been a recall on this product- FPE panel and if there
is presently any class action suit for fires incurred. I also would be grateful for any information as to who bought the
assests of the company that made this electrical panel. We have certainly suffered both physically and mentally post
fire and I thank you ever so much on any further suggestions you may offer at this time.
Any direction as to further
investigation/exploration on my part regarding others that have suffered fires with a FP electrical panel in their home
would be so appreciated. A. Carras to DJF - 8/17/99
FPE failure, $500,000 claimed - Last month a co-worker was responding to an apartment maintenance
request,"Flood lights not working." Upon initial inspection he found the breaker on, power to the timer control.He
switched the timer on and no lights, he said he had power on the load side. Thinking that there was loose connection at
the first fixture he returned to the shop for aladder. What we didn't know was that the problem was a short and that the
Federal Pacific breaker had failed to trip.
We never had a chance to return with the ladder, the fire department
interrupted our repair. Nobody was at home so nobody was hurt. Five homes were left uninhabitable and the damages will
probably reach $500,000.00 . Not bad work for one faulty 15 amp breaker. Frankly, I belive the rumors.(wish I had heard
the rumors prior to the fire.) http://www.firefindings.com/mboard/messages/1233.html David E. H to DJF - July 23,
Consumer questions IAEI FPE article and Weckstein - As you will see form the following message, I had a
conversation with Ray Weckstein after I was referred to him by a company that distributes FPE replacement products. He
identified himself as a former FPE employee who is now a "consultant to the company." As I'm sure you are aware, he has
a different take on this issue. He referred me to the IAEI and referenced the article that you have responded to.
sent me a copy of the issue. Could he be the former quality manager at FPE that the summary refers to? I am not very
familiar with your industry, but as a marketing professional educated in the area of market research, this article
doesn't pass the 'smell test.' I have never heard of attributing to unnamed former employees or 'knowledgeable persons.'
Furthermore, the title of the article suggests that there is somehow new information. It contains only information which
has been in the public domain for years. The editors would have been wise to put 'advertisement' across the top of both
pages. Better yet, the magazine should have assigned a reporter to do this if they deemed it that important.
Some background on how I have come to try and investigate all this. When I referred to the 'controversy,' I only meant
to imply that as a layman trying to sort out what to do, there are differing opinions about what constitutes the facts.
Four years ago, I remodeled the entire pool in our backyard, including all the wiring for the pool lights. The only
thing I did not do was the electrical. I had an FPE panel box at the pool equipment, which had GFCI breakers which
I asked for those to be replaced, however they were not. After I still had the problem with them
tripping for no apparent reason, I went to get replacements myself. After my electrical supplier told me there was only
one vendor supplying replacement breakers and these would cost me well in excess of $100.00 a piece, I got my first
lecture as to the hazards of FPE panel boxes. Given the overall condition and the desire to replace the other breakers,
it made economic sense to replace the whole panel box.
There is now a Square D box in its place, with no apparent
problems. I asked questions at that time about FPE, and most people seemed to know about lawsuits, etc., but the
consensus was if you aren't having any problems don't worry about it. As I have now come to realize, you won't know you
have a problem until you have a problem. For this reason, I feel it would be foolish to accept the status quo and not
sleep well, so I plan to change out the remaining three boxes in my home. I will probably not be able to do this until
the end of the year.
My father is an electrician and he will do the work the next time he comes to visit. I have
forwarded to him everything I have found or received on the subject, and he is in agreement that this is what I should
do. I would be happy to send you all of the old breakers including the panel boxes if this would be of interest to you.
As I said before, my home was built in 1978 and I have no reason not to believe that everything is original. If you
really want to see the 20Amp breaker, I would be happy to send it to you now. Just let me know where to send it.
I also received a message from Dan Friedman, concerning his reply to the article that was written last month.
Is there still pending litigation about this? Didn't FPE receive indemnification when they settled with Reliance?
I also talked to a Ray Weckstein today. I believe you know him. He has a much different take on all this, but
did explain his bias in that he was a past employee of FPE. He wanted to see my breaker also. Exactly what is his
relationship in all this? Steve S to DJF - 7/30/99
CPSC budget to study FPE - I read with interest your email and fax messages regarding FPE circuit
breakers. The CPSC budget for FY2000 includes some staff time to look into the safety of circuit breakers and panels.
I'm presently attempting to pull together the old CPSC records regarding the past work, and beginning to plan a new,
up-to-date study (including new test work) regarding the level of protection afforded by circuit breakers and panelboards
as installed in homes. Jesse probably has a more readily accessible file to confirm the accuracy of your statements.
Getting copies of your correspondence is very helpful. With so many new people here at CPSC, I have to review
the historical events with them, and then decide how best to use our limited resources.
[Note: no research has been
reported as of 2/8/2006--DF] Wm K to DJF - 7/22/99
New Jersey FPE breaker failure electrician - I am a lisc electrical contractor in new jersey and i have a
customer who has a 24 unit bldg with a seperate meter for each unit contain a 100 amp federal 2-pole main brkr in the
meter enclosure. recently there was a short or overload in one of the feeders and the 100 brkr didnt trip and caused some
minor damage to the enclosure .
The tenants want me to estimate the cost of remedying this problem .I would say replace
the enclosures but that would cost around $10,000 and the tenant board would not do it so i would like to find 100 amp
replacement brkrs ,do you know if the rep[lacements are as bad as the older 2 pole fpe brkrs ? do they make a modern
replacements with modern mechanics ?
The way i look at it is one brkr already proved it would fail and the rest were
likely from the same batch and i would hate to see them not front the cost and put themselves in a firerisk situation ,I
would like some more documentation on this preferably on the 2 pole 100 amps from the 1970's i have a copy i printed of
your article on the debate it was very helpful. Jim E to DJF - July 18, 1999
FPE UL Recall letter home inspector- I have obtained a letter from Ul labs recalling the Fpe breakers
from another inspector. If you would like a copy -- Send me your fax number. All Bay Home Inspection, Inc. Martin
Morgan to DJF - 4/6/99
FPE failure report - dryer circuit - I am writing to express my gratitude for the information you
published about the problem with this panel. The 1974 house we moved into last July had this box. We recently had it
replaced and found the breaker to the dryer fried in just the way described. Our electrician was astonished. Two others
we had bids from dismissed our concerns with contempt. I found your site while surfing for building trades information,
as the house has had no updating since construction. You have many interesting and helpful links. We have taken photos
of the bad breaker. If you are interested, I can forward copies to you. Again, many thanks for your excellent
information. Jean W to DJF - 3/20/99
New Jersey FPE Fire reported Clifton - The name of the newspaper is Dateline Journal from Clifton, New
Jersey, Vol 83, No. 3, dated Wednesday, Feb 3, 1999. The article appeared in the front page titled ( Home fire
attributed to circuit breaker). [Newspaper reports may be inaccurate -- note from DF] Mario to DJF - 2/18/99
FPE hot breaker, burnup report - I bought a house 3 years ago. Obviously, I did not know anything about
FPE circuit breakers until I read on a local newspaper that a house fire was due to FPE breaker failure. Two days ago,
my kid was playing nintendo and suddenly the lights went off.
Quickly, I went to check the service panel and the FPE
breaker for that circuit failed to trip. I touch the circuit breaker and it felt hot, I manually shut the breaker off.
A few hours later, I opened the service panel and the 12 gauge wire was completely burned, the 15 amp circuit breaker had
a hole burned on both sides.
I had to replace the breaker, which was very expensive. Also, I had to replace the breaker
above and below it, because of burned damage. I am planning to replace the service panel to avoid a fire waiting to
happen. I do not like FPE circuit breakers at all. Mario C. to DJF - 2/17/99
FPE buzzing panel - It scares me to see all this, and to have seen this first hand. I to have had to go
into panels and find stuff like this and to think it was still live also. What scared me the most is that a customer
complained of hearing a buzzing , smelling some thing burning comming from the panel. Do you think it would help if
people knew the symptoms of this? this person said it was going on for a year. John to DJF - 2/17/99
FPE Failure report - clothes dryer - I just pruchased a home with these breakers. The other day i went
to get a double pole breaker for a new ac installation and was advised to junk the whole system and put in a new box and
breakers. The following day, my wife was home doing the laundry, when all of a sudden the dryer was smoking profusely.
she immediately puuled the plug and called me.
i had her check the circuit breaker and sure enough, it was NOT tripped.
the dryer motor was completely burnt out. thank god my wife was in the house! [this may be a duplicate report - review
below--df] Steve to DJF - 8/4/98
FPE scorching report home inspector - ran into a FP "Stab-Lok® " yesterday. House built in mid 1960's,
evidence of scortching at the main breakers behind dead front panel. Also, there was inadequate space for bending of a
pair of #4 feeders. I reported that further evaluation should be performmed by a state licensed electrical contractor
and advised my clients that the FP panel be replaced as it presented a potential fire - electrical hazard.
Today the you
know what hit the fan from the seller and her agent. Agent called and claimed "her" contractor (type?) said there was
nothing wrong with the service panel. I asked when and why did he check it ? She said, "right after you left!" I said,
thats funny, no one was home, and you didn't take the time to attend my inspection, and will not recieve your copy of my
report until late this afternoon.
What made you call out your contractor ? "Because I knew you would find lots of
things wrong, you have a very bad reputation of finding lots of things that don't exist, and he will refute what ever you
say, bla, bla, bla." By the way, there was triple luging at 2 #20 amp branch circuit breakers. Wish I had my camera
with me ! Jerry to DJF - 3/15/98
FPE house fire report -
Having been directly affected by the failure of one of these circuit protection components,
I was curious about any recourse I may have, perhaps in the form of a class action suit.
My home was equipped with federal breakers and on the morning of October 24th of this year
they nearly caused a serious loss.. Life! The circuit that was supposedly "protected" failed
to trip causing a fire in my sons bedroom and had he not awakened because of the heat and
alerted the household to the fire, we surely would not be here today.
At what cost does a company admit that a product is at fault?
Ok, i got the steam out, thanks.
Jim L to DJF - 3/23/98
FPE no trip report - dryer circuit - I have a Federal Pacific panel in my house and am now convinced that I need to replace it.
I was going to have a subpanel installed anyway for the generator, so now I will get the electrician to rip out the
FPE panel and re-do the whole thing.
Our house was built in 1985. In the early '90s I had a 30 amp breaker fail -
the feed to the dryer. Had lots of trouble finding a replacement. When I heard that FPE was out of the business,
I did not do research - thought it was a case of poor financial management. Anyway, I finally found a replacement
(about $50). When I pulled the old breaker out, it was charred at the house wiring end and the case was quite brittle -
may have been cracked as well, don't remember.
At the time, I attributed it to inadequate tightening of the wire clamp
(after all, the electrician had made numerous other mistakes that "got by" the inspector). Now I realize that it llikely
was an overload on the dryer that the breaker did not respond to. Anyway, thanks agein for posting the information.
Think I will call an electrician today! Harry J to DJF - 3/3/98
FPE breaker tripping report -
I came across your information of FP doing a search for information of the FP box I have in my home: the main keeps tripping for some reason.
Steve F to DJF - 2/9/98
Californian FPE Failure report home inspector -
I am a home inspector in Northern California. I recently inspected a 47 year old home with a Federal Pacific breaker panel. After taking the dead front off and examining the wiring, I had a little problem getting the cover back on. The floating breaker panel was a bit off centered and it was tough getting the cover lined up with the breakers and the panel itself. After a few minutes I was able to get it all lined up and secured.
Later the homeowner came to me and said that the lights were not working in the garage. I checked to be sure that the breaker had not tripped and when I saw that it hadn't, I pressed on the face of the breakers to be sure they were properly seated. Upon doing this the garage lights flickered and then went back on. I removed the dead front again and did a visual inspection to be sure there were no loose wire connections. All of the connectors were tight, so I again pushed on the face of the breakers to be sure there were no loose breakers.
When I did this the garage light flickered and went out. After "massaging" the breakers again the lights came back on. At that Point I secured the dead front and informed the home owner that there appeared to be a loose connection and she should have an electrician come out and check the panel out thoroughly.
Today I got a call that there are a few circuits that are out. I again explained that she should have an electrician come out right away. Her contention, as mine would be, is that it worked until I got there so I must have broken it.
My question has to do with the problems that have plagued the Stab Lok breakers. I was told previously that one of the problems had to do with the the electrical/mechanical connection of the breaker to the panel. The mechanical connections were not always secure, which of course caused high resistance or completely open connections. Reading what I have so far in articles I found on the net, the problem was with the internal workings of the breakers and also some of the ganged breakers jamming. Is there also a problem such as I described above? If so, do know of any reports or literature on this problem?
[Follow-up note] Thank you both for the quick response and the great information. As it turns out, the homeowner had the electric company come out to check it. The serviceman confirmed that it was a bad connection on an old wire inthe back of the panel and reassured her that I did nothing wrong -- it was a problem waiting to rear it's ugly head. She has apologized and is not asking for any money towards the repair
Jim W to JA to DJF - 98-01-01
Canada FPE Schneider Recall Electrician -
I don't know if you realsze this but there is a breaker recall in our area regarding FPE NC015 and NC015CP breakers. They are identified by the blue toggle without a hole in the toggle. Schneider Canada states that some of these breakers may not trip under overload.
These breakers were manufacturered between August 1 1996 and June 11 1997. The manufacturer has asked the resellers to replace these breakers free of charge and state that they will attempt to identify, directly, homes with the breakers that require replacement.
To the best of my knowledge there has been no concerted effort to identify any of these installations other that placing small notices in some stores that retail these products. All this information is listed on Schneider Canada web site. I don't know if any of these products have found their way into your area.
As for any other problems that we have come across there are two general problems, mainly with the half sized breakers:
1)The installation of a two pole breaker where both legs are on the same phase. I have found this in both "professional" and homeowner installations.
2)On a panel where half sized breakers are used, the panel cover seems to be the main thing holding the bottom breakers in place. When the panel cover is removed the bottom breakers are very loose leading me to question how well these units are held in place by the blades to the bus.
Normally we do not install FPE panels. However if we come across parts we have in stock from renovations I will put them together and give you a call. I will also speak to our supplier and see if I can get him to "donate" some new product for testing. It's a bad time if the year for this however I will get onto him first of the new year. I have discussed the problem with him and he is seriously interested in the problem as most homes in this area have FPE panels.
If there is any further information that you have or learn about I would be very interested in hearing about it, FPE or other manufacturers, as it seems that some manufacturers are not too willing to notify contractors and correct their problems. Brian Salzman to DJF - 12/19/97
New Jersey FPE Failure report Madison -
We are having some work done on our townhouse that was built about 12 years ago. Part of the work had to do with the Electric Panel being
replaced. The eletrician, Brian Lindeman, gave me a poor copy of a down loaded article which you had something to do with and I
noticed your compuserve address.
There were some damaged and burned wires in the fusebox and I want to bring this to the attention of the association.
I have kept the damaged wires and box etc., but some back up regarding this potential problem might be a good idea.
Scott R. to DJF - 7/16/97
FPE no trip bet -
it took this long to find out about fpe i won a lot of bets in the early 80's saying they wouldn't trip enen when there was a direct short.
Robert J to DJF - 5/16/96
FPE Failure report - random cutouts -
An anecdote. A couple of years ago I had a circuit that would cut out randomly. Sometimes it would stay on for only 10
minutes, sometimes for 2 weeks. I personally pulled every outlet looking for a cause.
Finally I gave up and called an electrician.
He went straight to the circuit breaker box,
pulled the face plate, and while he was telling me the hazzards of FPE, the breaker arced.
He proceeded to remove the breaker, which then crumbled in his hand. He had to scrounge to find a replacement.
This year I got the whole 20-year old FPE box replaced. In replacing the box, the electrician also replaced
the feed line that goes from the meter to the breaker box; the wire was perhaps under-rated for the add-ons that had been done to this house.
But he discovered something else interesting.
The neutral for the old line was half the size (or words to that
effect) of the hot wires. Switching to a full sized neutral has alledgedly fixed another problem:
when using an iron or certain other moderately high-amp items, lights throughout the house used to dim (especially those on dimmers).
Rick J to DJF - 1/20/96
FPE failure reporting - frustrated inspector - The bottom line of our FPE research is that virtually nobody will say sh@t for fear of the still-pending litigation.
I spoke with one person at CPSC who was humerously cynical about the issue.
He said, for example,
"I cannot talk to you about the details because the file has been sealed.
I cannot tell you that we found problems in both the dingle pole na double pole breakers.
I cannot tell you that in some tests the defects were apparet in as great as 7% of the subject breakers, etc."
Aronstien was also very helpful but his knowledge of the practical
implications of his findings was somewhat limited. The one peice of very
important data he was able to impart is that the common nuetral buss bar defect (or potential for same) can
be visually identified by examining the buss bar. The potentially unsafe type is extruded aluminum and the set
screws which hold the bar to the panel are only a few 1/16ths less in diameter than the wdith of the buss bar.
I summary, we decided to continue the course of action we had adopted for FPE equipment several years ago.
Namely, to assert that a potential fire SAFETY issue exists and to replace the suspect components as a precuationary measure.
For the apartmet house in question (with 1986 FPE equipment) we recommended that 10% of the breakers be removed and tested off-site
to UL specs and also under a single leg overchage for the double pole breakers (not part of the UL spec.).
The seller of the apartment house countered this recommendation with a letter from a PE asserting that there
is no known relationship between the defective pre 1979 FPE equipment and circa 1985 equipment.
While that may be true, there is also no documented "end date"
for the problem. Andrew K to DJF - 11/11/1995
FPE breaker variations electrician - I just read your FPE hazard summary accessed from G Newton's homepage.
What do you think of the newly manufactured replacement breakers by
"American" ? I hate to use them at all but people sure don't want to
hear that they have to spend the $350 or so it costs to replace a
typical residential panel. Also, is the problem better or worse for
the two types of FPE breakers I see, the black w/ red escutcheon or the really old brown ones?
It's great to have a forum like this on the net, hope you can keep it going. Lee E. to DJF - /LI>
New Jersey FPE failures electrician -
I am a licensed electrical contractor in New Jersey. In my local area
we have a high percentage of federal pacific panel boards installed.
When I approach the client about the danger of these panels, very few
people respond to my suggestions. I am interested in making a brochure
or mailer about the potential dangers of there services. Any
information you can give me will be a big help.
Dennis C to DJF -
Idaho FPE no trip report Electrician -
I am a electrical contractor in south eastern idaho u s a my experience
with f p e panels is they will not trip which causes fires and
numerious other problems.
I try to replace them if i can. my favorite choice for panels is
cuttler hammer which exceeds square d in my opinion. if you have
anything further please let me know.
Wally W. to DJF - 12/19/95
FPE bus insertion -
The most common problems I have found with these panels is that the
breakers can not be removed without a lot of force after being in there
a long time. And if you do remove a breaker; to replace it, you can't
trust the new one. Because it may fit loose and cause a heating
Dennis G to DJF -
FPE bus failure report, Zinsco query - I have not found the split 240 volt breakers you have described, but find that these panels fail at the contact point of the bus, causing extreme heat and cause the entire panel to fail. Do you know if there is any info on the older zinsco panels with aluminum buses? The one in st. Louis there starting to fail regularly.
JOE O to DJF -
FPE work at times, Sylvania replacements, FPE originals shouldn't have been sold Electrician opinion -
Please be advised that proper operation and test has proved that these
devices do work at times, and that replacement of same with newly issued Slyvania types seem to correct previously defecient behavior.
Admittly, the original's shouldn't have been sold; but, you can't just
bust into someone's spent Equity and rip it out blatenly. That's not
Professional, just reactionary. Frankly, there are just enough fools
rushing around replacing perfectly tried and tested Edison and Buss fuse panels on the premise of updating and safety convenience. Federal Pacific devices do work, if installed properly.
They may not be the best, but they are for the most part better then generic GE and Westinghouse and Cutler Hammer and Challenger.
I have personally installed (with a professional service contract and
serviced same) over 23,400,000 Amps worth. And, they're still working correctly, and, monitored by a Professional Electrician who cares about his customers and their safety!
CAMELECT to DJF - 12/5/96
New Jersey FPE failure report -
Back in 1993, my employee with ten years experience had to tackle a federal panel the problem was the main breaker had burnt up and it was during the winter months here in nj. Being that we did not have a replacement he bypassed the main.
After getting the power back on, as he was pushing and reseeding the breakers and all of a sudden the panel blew up in his face causing him to have first and second degree burns on his face and hands. Although, bypassing the main wasnt the smartest thing he had done but for a temporary solution getting the power back on so that the pipes would not freeze.
Just so you know this job was done at 11:30pm so that a panel change or service change was out of the question.
There is no doubt in my mind that federal pacific breakers and panels are dangerous. Steven h. S to djf -
Texas FPE arcing no trip Houston -
A 240V breaker fails to trip when an arc
is formed downline (after the breaker) and a fire starts.
Could a higher voltage on the line (higher than 240) cause this to happen?
I am researching this subject and need to get info on same. Pls advise if you
know the answer or direct me to an expert in this field.
Orlando G. R. to DJF - ca 98
Texas FPE failure report Houston - My sister and family,
including an infant recently moved into a rental pending their
relocation after selling their own. This home is early to mid 60's
vintage. Within days of moving in my sister noticed appliances, lights,
and outlets that were not working. An inspection of the outside breaker
box revealed no "obvious" tripped breakers. An electrician was called
and informed us that the breakers (FPE) were "bad" and that the box and
breakers needed to be replaced.
He told us about the UL situation and
fire hazards etc, etc. The landlord agreed to replace the whole
thing(it's now GE, I think) after my sister threw a fit. Everything OK,
so they thought.
Two days ago, Houston got its first hint of winter(high 30's...yes by
your standards we're kind of soft, but anyway...)and she flipped on the
thermostat and the heater and fan(this is an all electric house, by the
way) kicked on and everybody was nice and toasty. Three hours later,
while sitting at her desk she noticed that she was freezing.
in the house was 50 degs and the heater nor the fan would come on
despite her continued fiddling with the thermostat. She called me and I
told her to check the breakers on the main fuse box and flip the a/c
and heater breakers. Alas to no avail. After that I had her look in the
attic where she found a two-breaker box dedicated to the heater/central
a/c. Both were tripped. She reset them and viola: heat.
They are also FPE breakers. Do she and my bro-in-law need to talk to
the landlord about this also? New mothers have a tendency to be a
little paranoid. You haven't met my sister, paranoid take on a whole
rcscertify to DJF - ca 98
Fortune Magazine, Business Week Magazine articles & UL staff quoted on FPE - Fortune_, 10/19/81, pp.83-86: "Reliance [Electric Co.] had
acquired Newark-based Federal Pacific Electric Co. from its
parent, UV Industries, for $345 million....Most security analysts
considered Federal Pacific a rather second-rate operation, which
explains why Reliance's stock fell by some 15% when the merger
was first announced. But Wall Street's views turned out to have
been overly charitable.
"The problem, according to a suit that Reliance subsequently
brought to force UV to take back its company, is that Federal
Pacific cheated for years on tests of its circuit breakers by
Underwriters Laboratories. Without UL certification, the
circuit breakers would have been unsalable. 'It was the most
sophisticated swindle I have ever seen,' [Reliance CEO B. Charles]
Ames says. 'They had constructed a laboratory with miles
of buried wires and concealed levers just so they could trick the UL
Bear in mind that Reliance's lawsuit gave them a reason to state
the situation as drastically as possible. For instance, "miles"
in the quote above is a figure of speech. But it's still pretty
damning. And a guy I talked to at UL, who deals with low-voltage
circuit breakers (Mike Mays, 847-272-8800, x42996) confirmed that
Federal Pacific was cheating on their UL tests.
How long was this cheating going on? The _New York Times_ of
6/25/82 (covering a $39 million out-of-court settlement between
UV and Reliance) says only that Reliance charged that FPE had been
cheating "for years" (p.D3).
_Business Week_ of 7/21/80 (p.66), in a report on Reliance's
lawsuit against UV, refers to "the charge that defective electrical
equipment may have been installed in perhaps 10% of all homes
built or renovated in the _past_decade_or_more_" (my emphasis).
However, this was before the details of FPE's cheating scheme
had become public, and lawsuits often claim a 'worst case'
scenario in the initial filing of charges.
The 10/19/81 _Fortune_ article cited above makes it sound like
the cheating was going on for about three years up through 1978
"When the cheating stopped at Federal Pacific Electric is not
precisely clear, for many documents in the Reliance suit have been
sealed by court order.
What everyone agrees on is that on Oct. 23,
1978, ...an ex-employee of Federal Pacific sent a letter to one of
its executives revealing some details about cheating at a plant in
Albemarle, NC....On September 13 [apparently 1979-- article not
entirely clear], [FPE president] Knudson was sent a report from the
chief engineer at the Albemarle plant, predicting that almost all
circuit breakers that Federal Pacific had made would lose their
Underwriters Laboratories labels.
The _Fortune_ article goes on to say that by May, 1980, FPE
"had lost the UL labels on virtually its entire line of circuit
breakers, which had accounted for $100 million in sales in 1979.
Ames' staff also had begun tallying the potential expense if a
recall program became necessary [depending on the CPSC's decision].
The initial estimate: _three_years'_ production of the Albemarle
plant might have to be replaced by electricians" [my emphasis].
Mike Mays of UL told me that the cheating was going on for less
than three years, closer to two, up until about 1979. He said he
was pretty certain that there was no cheating going on before then,
becuase the guy who had run the FPE lab in Belmont, NC, "knew when
they put that coil of wire underneath the floor." When I mentioned
that the FPE breakers in our new home were installed in 1972, he said,
"Oh, those are the good ones," adding that a UL employee who worked
near to him had FPE breakers from the early '70's in his own home.
The _Business Week_ article quoted above states that FPE circuit
breakers were "delisted...after UL changed testing procedures for
circuit breakers following CPSC concern that the product
[apparently meaning all kinds of circuit breakers, not just FPE's]
might pose fire hazards."
I asked Mays of UL whether UL's testing
procedures for circuit breakers had changed around the time that
FPE's cheating began-- I was thinking that a new, stricter test
might have been the reason that FPE wanted to cut corners.
Mays said no, that there had been no change in circuit breaker
tests and that in fact "we use the same test today." He said the
cheating was just motivated by the fact that the company was in
terrible shape financially (and the _Fortune_ and _Business Week_
accounts support this description of FPE's profitability).
So it sounds to me that if our FPE breakers were installed in
1972, we should not have any particular cause for concern
(other than the point about multiwire branch circuits-- which I
half-understood-- raised in the 11/10/95 note on your Web page).
Do you think that's true?
Do you know any way to confirm the manufacture date of an FPE
Thanks for your time
(& your Web page!). Peter Hogness to DJF - 8/12/96
FPE and aluminum wire, power surges -
Would like any additional info on this subject you might
have. Purchased a house a year ago that's has these type of breakers
with aluminum wiring, and having constant power surges and power
outages without the breaker tripping. Concern that I am sitting on a
potential fire hazard.
Sara D. NAVSEA to DJF -
Tennessee FPE Noark Panel replacement breaker Query Oak Ridge- I have an FPE "NOARK" electical panel with Stab-Lok® breakers in my house. My situation is further complicated by the fact
that the panel was installed in a closet and therefore does not have
the proper clearance (by NEC standards) in front of the panel.
local code will not allow me to replace the panel in its current
location. To replace the panel I would have to relocate it in an area
that provides the proper clearance.
Since FPE lost their UL listing, I have had to use circuit breakers
made by another company (whose name I can't recall at the moment). The
breakers are made for the NOARK panel. I recently installed a 230-V
30A breaker and a 115-V breaker manufactured by this company.
Do you think these replacement breakers are possibly safer than the
ones made by FPE? If so, would replacing all the Stab-Lok® breakers be
a wise thing to do? to DJF -
California FPE failures Los Angeles Electrician - Nice to see that this FPE debate is coming to a head! I've been in the
trade for 16 yrs. , & spent about 8 as a service elect. in the W.L.A./
Beverly Hills area. I've seen so many fried hots & neutrals coming from
those panels, I ca'nt begin to count 'em! ('specially that cute little
kitch. circuit/240 breaker trick.) A lot of it on RH wire, no less.
GEEZ! They've been known "affectionately" as Federal No Trip around
here for years.
I always counsel the cust. towards replacement, but,
like pool light deck boxes, & GFI's in the right places, the attitude is usually "Well it's been fine for years"
I.E. it has'nt killed anyone yet! The article is good info, & ammo ;) .
I just found this link, glad it's here! thanks. Tim M to DJF - undated ca 1998
FPE house fire -
I had a fire in my home in the early `80`s and I had an FPE panel in my
house. Prior to the fire, I heard a verry light humming sound from the
panel. I cycled the breakers and the sound went away, temporarily.
I don`t remember how many times I did this. The arson investigator
pointed out copper burned off 3 inches from the concrete floor where
the inner wall in the closet held the panel. If I can help in any way
please give me an E-mail.
Tony B to DJF - undated ca 1997
FPE failures reported in nursing home -
I have just read your article on fpe panelboards and wished I had kwown
about it sooner. I work in a nursing home that has these panelboards
installed. There have been problems with the 240v 2 and 3 pole breakers.
These breakers are difficult to replace and are not cose effective. I
will share this document with those in need to know at the facility.
Angel R. to DJF - undated ca 1997
California Federal Pacific Failure report home inspector -
A home inspector in the GG chapter ran across an interesting Federal
Pacific failure and invited several of us out to the house today to review it.
Briefly, there is a Federal Pacific main/distribution panel on the
exterior and a Federal Pacific subpanel in the garage.
subpanel failed, either within a 240V breaker or at the connnection to
the bus bars. This caused a direct short (enough that when we
energized it the service drop wires to the house bounced several FEET
in the air from the suddenly induced magnetic fields).
The FP breaker
feeding this subpanel did not trip, even under this direct short
condition. All it did was make a violent buzzing/clicking sound. So we have a multiple FPE failure.
Assuming our electrician of choice gets the job in repairing this, the
plan for now is to take the entire subpanel and send it to you in
hopes you will pass it along to Jess Aronstein. We think it would be
very interesting to bench test this thing and find out exactly how it
failed. The subpanel only has 2 breakers (a 240 and a 120 - it was at
the 240 breaker the failure occurred).
The interesting thing about the failure in the subpanel is that when
it was not energized there was no continuity between the feeds and
ground or between the two feeds. When energized, this same subpanel
clearly has a direct short.
The only explanation we could think of was
that there is a slight gap between the elements that are shorting, and
that under a voltage condition, arcing is sufficient to bridge this,
but when not energized, our meters could not detect appreciable continuity.
Douglas Hansen to DJF - 2/8/97
Maryland FPE panel disagreement -
I'm the president of a condo association and we have about
two dozen FPE circuit breaker panels. An electrician sent me
your web page on FPE and he recommends changing all of the
FPE panels in our buildings. they are almost 30 years old and
we have had no problems in those 30 years.
I called the Howard County (Maryland) housing inspector
for electrical matters. The inspector and other electricians
said I would be wasting the condo's money to replace
the panels when there is no problem.
At this point in my research on the problem, it's about 5 to 1
against replacing FPE panels when there is no evident problem and no
problem in the past 30 years.
Mary Ches A to DJF - 10/27/97
California FPE failures reported by electrician Columbia, MD-
In all my years as an electrician, since 1978, I have never witnessed anything so unreliable.
I've seen 20a single-pole breakers with dead shorts that just sat and buzzed and stank, but they did not trip. New panels can no longer be legally installed in the state of california, and I recommend anyone that I see with an installed fpe that they change it. Unfortunately some people feel they can not afford the expense.
May god protect them 'cause fpe won't. I'm glad to see that on the net. Thanks I was just sitting here telling a friend how bad they really were and decided to see what I could find on the net when I found your article.
Purnell p to DJF - 8/15/97
FPE no trip at 800A load -
I am writing because of your Federal Pacific Electric page. I have some
experience with them that may be interesting to you.
I have been working on making portable circuit breaker testers for a
few years now. I tested one of them on my home panel's breakers and it
worked great. Then I went to my parents' house to show them the great
thing their son had made and no matter what I did their breakers did
not respond (they wouldn't trip). A bit embarrassing.
Anyway, I did experiments where I would drop an 800 amp resistive load
(virtually a short circuit) for a short period of time and also where I
placed a 40 and 80 amp resistive loads for extended periods of time. I
even wired up a separate circuit next to the panel with 12g wire so I
wouldn't have to take the old wiring into account.
Nothing had any effect. They behaved as if they were pieces of wire. In
fact, I have not been able to get them to trip under any circumstances!
When I did further research I found that they had Federal Pacific
Electric breakers. I was told by a local electrical equipment supplier
that FPE had been exposed in a scandal in the 50s for paying off a
government inspector to OK faulty breakers.
I purchased new FPE breakers, but they performed no better.
My parents, who are normally the most worried and conservative of
people (with carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, and radon testers
house) chose to do nothing about the breakers. At least they are
selling the house and moving now (not because of the breakers), but
that won't do much for the next occupants.
Anyway, I thought you might be interested in all this. Personally I
can't believe there is still any sort of debate about all this. It's
Maxim H to DJF - 10/16/97
Alabama FPE loose breaker report Lower Alabama Panhandle - My FPE panel has already been exercised quite a bit.
I already have reseated one 240v breaker that had worked its way loose
from the center bar female "receptacle", for instance. I have also
cycled the other breakers as I fiddled with the branch circuits to get
an understanding of my specific problem.
None of the local electricians really know what's going on with AL
wiring and carry on the various myths about its repair.
I'll still call Dr. Aronstein and see if he can still use my FPE panel.
Wouldn't you know FPE would have to be mixed up with EXXON somehow.
I'm thinking about taking our local prop appraiser to task and go for a
$12,000 or so reduction in my home's value retroactive 5 years when I
first surfaced the caost of re-wiring to him. By going after AL
homeowners through nicking the local govt's money source, might be a
way to reaise the issue of AL wiring to more homeowners and get someone
qual in AMPs Copalum connector.
I get the feeling AMP is losing interest in the program.
Perhaps I've just been talking the the wrong folks there.
talked to Dilbert's sound alike in the engineering section. Oh yes.
My son's an EE as well.
Your WEB site approach is both positive and effective.
Bill D, USAF Ret (Former Aircraft Maintainer of some 30 years) to DJF - 11/16/97
New Jersey FPE Failure report - I currently have a contract on a home in Marlboro, New Jersey that has
a Federal Pacific Electric Panel. I was made aware of the potential
problem during a home inspection. This home has gas heat, a gas dryer,
and a gas range.
It would seem as though most breakers in this home
should be 120V. You report that there was "one" instance of a 120V
breaker failing and refer to reference 3 on your web page ,
Should I still be concerned for the
safety of my family or is one reported failure of a breaker something
that may occur with any brand of breaker box? I would be very
interested in your opinion as well as any readily available references
on the topic.
In the next day or two, I must decide whether to attempt
to tell the home sellers to replace the box or not. Of course they
will be surprised to hear that there is any danger since they raised
their family there for 11 years without incident! Jeffrey S to DJF - 11/7/97
Massachusetts FPE and Challenger explosion, breakers do not trip electrician's report - Your statement says" The problem is that some 240-volt FPE circuit
breakers and possibly some 120-volt units simply may not work."
This is probably legally a safe way of describing the problem,
The true fact is that FPE breakers, and I mean ALL of them, including
the crap sold under the newer name of Challenger, or whatever they want
to label them; are more dangerous electrically than improper electrical
As a licensed Master electrician in Massachusetts, I
have seen blatant code and health related wiring hazards that don't
even come close to FPE breaker hazards. I have tested a 20 amp FPE
breaker with 72 amps on a 12 gauge wire. The explosion that occurred
when I tried to turn off the breaker left permanent scars on my right
hand and left arm.
Also, a 3 pole 70 permitted a 10 HP 3 phase motor
to melt the Allen Bradley Contactor, the load wires and part of the
line wiring, without tripping. The motor melted internally. But nobody seems to give
it much thought. WHY? Tom S to DJF - 11/22/97
California FPE panels investigated, arcing found - Have inspected the panels that you sent. The visible
electrically-caused damage is a result of arcing between the stab-lock
(input) contacts on the "two-pole" (linked by machine screw connecting
the toggles) 20-amp breaker assembly.
The potential between the two
contacts that arced is 240 volts (nominal), but the current in the arc
event may not have been high enough to cause the upstream breakers (in
the main panel) to trip. The heat generated by the arcing was enough
to cause some melting of the copper stab-lock contacts.
The root cause of the breakdown appears to have been water
infiltration, indicated by the rust patterns on the case and on internal parts of the panel.
Just below the energized contacts that shorted, the insulating barrier
above the neutral buss forms a horizontal shelf. It is possible that
water on that surface shelf initiated the breakdown.
There is no visible evidence that any of the breakers or wiring
sustained overcurrent damage, which might indicate failure to trip. I
will be testing the functionality of the breakers, and will let you
know if anything unusual is found.
J Aronstein to DJF re panel from Alan Block-
California FPE loose breakers, flickering lights home inspector report -
I am a home inspector in Northern California. I recently inspected a
47 year old home with a Federal Pacific breaker panel. After taking
the dead front off and examining the wiring, I had a little problem
getting the cover back on. The floating breaker panel was a bit off
centered and it was tough getting the cover lined up with the breakers
and the panel itself. After a few minutes I was able to get it all lined up and secured.
Later the homeowner came to me and said that the lights were not
working in the garage. I checked to be sure that the breaker had not
tripped and when I saw that it hadn't, I pressed on the face of the
breakers to be sure they were properly seated. Upon doing this the
garage lights flickered and then went back on. I removed the dead
front again and did a visual inspection to be sure there were no loose
wire connections. All of the connectors were tight, so I again pushed
on the face of the breakers to be sure there were no loose breakers.
When I did this the garage light flickered and went out. After
"massaging" the breakers again the lights came back on. At that Point
I secured the dead front and informed the home owner that there
appeared to be a loose connection and she should have an electrician come out and check the panel out thoroughly.
Today I got a call that there are a few circuits that are out. I
again explained that she should have an electrician come out right
away. Her contention, as mine would be, is that it worked until I got
there so I must have broken it.
My question has to do with the problems that have plagued the Stab Lok
breakers. I was told previously that one of the problems had to do
with the the electrical/mechanical connection of the breaker to the
panel. The mechanical connections were not always secure, which of
course caused high resistance or completely open connections.
what I have so far in articles I found on the net, the problem was with
the internal workings of the breakers and also some of the ganged
breakers jamming. Is there also a problem such as I described above?
If so, do know of any reports or literature on this problem?
Jim W. to DJF - 1 Jan 1998
FPE no trip at 650A, failure report, drilled into feeder -
I read with interst your articles on FPE Breakers. Back in late 1981
1982 I accidentally drilled into my range feeder. Although I had
recently exercised my breakers, and in spite of the fact that I
vaporized the tip of an Irwin Speedbor drill bit, and about 3/8 inch of
one side of a No. 6 service entrance cable, neither the feeder nor the
150 amp main tripped.
I think the breakers were probably made in 1969.
I have 1500 amps of available fault current at my meter base, and
calculated the level at the point of the fault to be around 650 amps.
I called the local FPE rep and asked for copies of the trip curves for
the breakers. They refused to supply them. I would be interested in
any other information you might have come across since your article.
Bob M to DJF - 2/3/98
Confusion about reliability of UL labels -
I purchased a home two years ago and it has an FPE
panel. The home was built in 1983. I had a home inspection service evaluate the home
I purchased it. Nothing was mentioned about there being any potential
defects in this particular electrical system.
I am now very concerned
about this becuse I am planning on adding a couple of new circuits for
plugs and lighting in the basement, and was going to do this myself
having some electrical wiring experiance. The new 15 amp breakers I
purchased at a local home improvment store have the UL stamp on them
and so to does the actual FPE panel that was installed when the home
was built. So now needless to say I am a little confused and frankly
Steve T. to DJF - 2/1/98
- Dan: Thanks for posting your informaton on the
Internet. I came across it while seeking information on adding a
standby generator at my home.
I have a Federal Pacific panel in my
house and am now convinced that I need to replace it. I was going to
have a subpanel installed anyway for the generator, so now I will get
the electrician to rip out the FPE panel and re-do the whole thing. Our
house was built in 1985. In the early '90s I had a 30 amp breaker fail
- the feed to the dryer.
Had lots of trouble finding a replacement.
When I heard that FPE was out of the business, I did not do research -
thought it was a case of poor financial management. Anyway, I finally
found a replacement (about $50). When I pulled the old breaker out, it
was charred at the house wiring end and the case was quite brittle - may
have been cracked as well, don't remember.
At the time, I attributed it
to inadequate tightening of the wire clamp (after all, the electrician
had made numerous other mistakes that "got by" the inspector). Now I
realize that it llikely was an overload on the dryer that the breaker
did not respond to. Anyway, thanks agein for posting the information.
Think I will call an electrician today! to DJF - 3/3/98
History of FPE awarness among home inspectors & field failure report from HVAC tech - [Text is a reply by
DF to a query about when home inspectors can be expected to have known about FPE Stab Lok concerns.] As the FP problem
has been known in the inspection profession for some time, you could make the argument that your inspector should have
told you that it was a latent hazard. Inspectors vary in the aggressiveness with which they call out such problems,
depending on personal and business choices.
Below is ample detail to assist you in deciding if you should make
a case. BEFORE you do anything about making a case against your inspector, you should call him/her immediately to
express your concern and to find out what the inspector's position will be.
You're asking an important,
legitimate, and tough questions. Your query touches on a basic question that troubles home inspectors: when are we
liable for knowing or not knowing something?
On one hand, as we inspectors constantly strive to get better and
better at our work we are always going to be learning about new hazards, or about old ones that hitherto received narrow
public notice. And it would make it impossible for us to provide a service at all if we're to be held retroactively
respoinsible for discovery of controversial materials at a house.
On the other hand, if I were making a case
regarding a controversial material, and if I wanted to establish whether or not it was reasonable for an inspector to be
held to have reported to me on the material (or topic like an FPE panel), I think I'd try to figure out when the
information became widely known in the education, training, publication, and documents of the profession, as that's an
expanded standard that I MIGHT use to beat up an inspector whom I felt had been derelict.
between 1985 and about 1987 or 1988 my friend Tom Byrne, an older inspector told me [Daniel Friedman] that there was a
problem with FPE panels. At the time he was not able to articulate what the issue was. Curious, I began researching
further and I was on the lookout for more information - which I have gathered and published over time.
Lennon's "Home Pro Notebook," widely used in the profession as a reference source, made no mention of this issue in its
1986 issue. At least I can't find one.
Keith Peddie's "Your House" 1987 does not have a reference to FPE that
I could find. Peddie, and Cox (Below) are/was (Cox has passed-on) respected ASHI educators.
Property Inspector's Training Institute Inspection Manual from 1988 makes no mention that I can find on this matter.
However Cox's 1988 "Home Owner's Manual" p. 61 does call attention to FPE panels - one of the earliest references I
found: "Federal Pacific distribution panels are no longer manufactured, components are obsolete, replacement parts
are expensive if available at all and it may be difficult to find an electrician to work on them. This is not considered
to be a good panel!" >
What you read in this text was typical wording earlier in the young profession, when
someone had heard that there was a problem but he didn't really understand what it was. This manual was not widely
distributed in the profession but was used by Cox as material given to his clients and his students in the DC/MD area.
Looking in the ASHI Training Manual (an incomplete, sometimes wrong, but widely circulated document) I don't
see that the author, Al ALk, called out FPE panels at all. He worked on these books from about 1988 to 1990. However
Alk's work is known to be incomplete and sometimes erroneous.
Larry Reavis' horrible, inept, but widely
marketed "Home Exam" book from 1989 makes no mention that I can find on this issue. However Reavis' work is known to be
incomplete, opinionated, and sometimes erroneous.
Everett Rawlin's "The Inspection Experts" training material
from 1991 is similarly deficient and makes no mention I could find on this issue.
Guy Cozzi's "The Home
Inspection Business from A to Z" from 1992 does not include a F for FPE panels that I can find. But then Guy used to be
work in the restaurant business.
Doug Hansen's "Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings," does point out
the hazard regarding FPE Stab-Lok® panels at 4.5.5 "Obsolete Breakers and Panels," no surprise as we've discussed it a
time or two. He correctly explains the problem on p. 62 of Ver. 9.6 of his book. Breakers fail to trip, and they have
poor connections to bus bars (leading to overheating and bus burnouts). Doug's been distributing this book since 1995.
I scanned the contents from several ASHI national conferences from late 80's to early 90's without finding
mention of FPE. That doesn't mean it was not mentioned, just that I couldn't find it in the published proceedings.
I [DJ Friedman] began mentioning this panel and its fire risk at various ASHI seminars and conferences in the
early 1990's and I first proposed an article on it to the Journal of Light Constructionin 1995 (the article was
not published by the JLC). I posted warnings about the topic on-line first on ASHI's private BBS several years ago and
more recently on Internet where it is publicly available.
What we're missing is a similar study of back issues
of the ASHI Reporter - the monthly professional magazine to see if/when we published an article warning about this
Summarizing: while I personally feel that an inspector is derelict if s/he fails to point out the
issues with this equipment, a sanguine, neutral review of the matter points to these problems in making a case against an
inspector for failing to point the matter out several years ago:
1. it's not clear that there was widespread
appreciation of the issue among building and inspection professions until recently, perhaps 1995.
the equipment is not technically "banned" or "illegal," and because (for economic and political reasons) the CPSC study
was never formally completed to the point of a public ban on the equipment, some electrical inspectors, and some
inspectors who may prefer to focus on speed rather than diligence, take the position that as the equipment is not
"illegal" it's "acceptable." I do not agree, but I am not the king.
It takes time for knowledge about
building issues to spread through the inspection profession, and in fact in some cases it's a battle between the "real"
inspectors and the "business" inspectors who want to do as little as possible.
The fact that an inspector now
calls attention to this matter suggests to me that it's his intention to be diligent and informed. It's a tough call to
assert in this matter the precise date at which an inspector ought to have known about a fairly contemporary
controversial material or product.
I apologize for having to equivocate; I'd prefer that things were black and
white, not gray. I suggest that you call the inspector to bring your concerns to him directly.
If he makes the argument
that he regrets having to bring bad news but that he can't bring it before he knows it, and that this is, as a topic of
discussion and dissemination a fairly recent fact among many inspectors, he'd be making a candid and most likely honest
[Original request for historical data and field failure report-indirect]
I am a homeowner in
Edison, NJ who recently had the displeasure of finding out my townhouse is fitted with a Federal Pacific Electric Panel.
The discovery was made by my uncle a Local 3 electrician in NYC, who suggested that I waste little time replacing the
This suggestion was concurred by the Chief Inspector of Edison Township. Although he did cite specific
examples of FP failures that he had come accross he wouldn't come out and offically recomend the replacement. However,
he did say that it was known to be "unreliable" and that if there were one in his home he would replace it right away.
My A/C & Heating specialist also showed by a melted FP Breaker that he keeps as a souvenier to show his
customers why they should consider changing the panel. I have several questions.
1) Is there anyplace I can find info on
possible lawsuits against contractors and Federal Pacific?
2) Do I have any recourse against the inpsector who I paid to
inspect my home in October of 1995? and
3) Should I press my townhouse association for some assistance in possible
finding an electrician who will possible give a group rate if a majority of homeowners want to change their panels?
Thank you for any additional insight you may be able to offer on any of these matters. Ernest V to DJF and reply -
HVAC tech opinion of FPE - I recently purchased a 19 yr. old house and just found out that the two
breaker boxes that I have are FPE. I was told by a HVAC person that I need to replace them ASAP to avoid a fire. With 2
babies in a cedar house, fire is a concern and has my wife ready to move again. to DJF - 3/18/98
Realtor objects to FPE criticism - I am a Real Estate broker and have had diffuculty overcoming your Internet posting on Federal Pacific Electric Panels &
Breakers. I would be interested to know if any major personal injury or damage to residential homes has been researched
and found, and what relation these incidents have to the other manufacturers of similar products.
It would seem
your comments, while they do give reason to be aware of potential dangers, seem too inflamatory without specific facts
(unless I'm missing something). The press release of March 3, 1983 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission concluded
that the circuit breakers that you refer to do not present a serious risk of injury to consumers, but rather offers
advice as a precaution. I believe the precaution given would cover all electrical panels and breakers and that
homeowners should always be aware.
I would be interested to know if FPE or their subsequent owners have ever
offered a recall or caution statement. If not, why not. How did you get interested in this topic and particular
manufacturer? I offer a quote from a property inspection 'action item' review on a property I have listed for sale:
"The main service and subpanels were manufactured by Federal Pacific Electric. The equipment produced by this
company has been associated with product defects and failure of their 120 vold and 240 volt overcurrent protection
devices. Therefore, Federal Pacific Electric equipment must be considered as unreliable and potentially dangerous.
Although we observed no evidence of a failure of the breakers, we cannot guarantee their future performance. We
recommend consideration be given to upgrading by removing this equipment and installing another UL approved panels and
This quote is based entirely upon your Internet posting. Many homes in our community
have FPE equipment. Would you have them all replaced? If they are not, are we all in danger of going up in flames?
I have had an Electrical contractor survey this home and the above quote. The boxes and breakers performed
normally. Three breakers were replaced as a result of 'over fusing', but were not defective. Replacement breakers were
readily available. The electrician's only negative comment was that the boxes were small and a bit difficult to work on,
and the 'stab' sometimes were difficult to 'lok'. William S. Elliott to DJF - 4/7/98
Federal Pacific Electric panel Fire report - My brother-in-law is involved in a lawsuit posed by the
homeowner's insurance company of the home he worked on. He alerted the presence of the FPE circuit breakers to homeowner
and the homeowner elected the work to be done without the replacement of these.
After completion of his work, a fire
resulted. He is now being held accountable and is being sued by the homeowner's insurance company (not the homeowner).
We have downloaded endless documents from various internet sites on this issue. My question to you is, are you aware of
any cases like this one and what the outcome was. Donna S (sister-in-law of Electrician) to DJF - 4/11-14/98
New Mexico FPE failure report - electrician - I have just completed reading you article on FPE breakers.
I have knowledge of cases where breakers have failed to trip in the past, but did not have an amprobe on the circuit to
confirm my suspicions that an adequate load was present. As a journeyman wireman (L. U. 611) and as the safety director
for XXX Electric at the Rio Rancho, NM, Intel facility, I try to stay abreast of these type developments and
documentation. Jim H XXX Electric to DJF - 3/14/98
FPE PANEL, flickering lights - I have a Federal Pacific 100 amp service panel. Whenever my furnace kicks
on or I run any power tools, the lights in my house flicker. In addition, I recently installed a subpanel in my garage
and when I run power tools in my garage, the lights flicker there also.
I read in your website how dangerous the Federal
Pacific service panels are, what is your recommendation on replacing this panel and with what type? Do you feel the
service panel is causing the lights to flicker? Scott to DJF - 4/4/98
California FPE replacement breaker proposl questioned San Diego - Dan, I've identified a FPE panel as
potentially hazardous and provide client with your info. Electrician called in said the fix is to replace existing
breakers with UL approved breakers. Are there any approved breakers for this situation? Is he blowing smoke? Any info
would be appreciated. Joe R., San Diego to DJF - 4/21/98
Maryland FPE Failure report by home inspector - You and I discussed the following. You may want to relay
this to Dr. Aaronstein.
I doubt if he would remember me, but I and an associate took him to dinner many years ago prior
to his "public presentation" to the media and the local fire chiefs around the Washington DC area when the CPSC did a
press gag on his presentation re AL wiring to the CPSC. The result of his presentation was that AL wiring was banned in
DC, and Montgomery County MD for all circuits, and all branch circuits in Prince Georges County MD. Thank you Jesse.
An inspector I helped train in the Reading PA area was changing a door frame in his basement. With the jamb
removed he gazed into the wall cavity and was dumbfounded when he observed that thewiring within the wall cavity was
devoid of any insulation. It had all burned away.
He called me to discuss this. My first question was what type of
panel did he have? Federal Pacific Stablocks. The fried circuits were for his basement shop where he had always
been amazed that he could run so many tools simultaneously and never cause the breakers to trip.
Dumb luck saved his
loosing his home. He tore out the wiring and replaced the panel the next day. His name is xxx JDG in Silver Spring
MD to DJF - 5/13/98
FPE replacement breaker concern - I have just made two startling discoveries. FPE circuit breakers are a
potential fire hazard and my garage is powered with them. I made this discovery over the holiday. My wife and I
received a garage door opener as a gift.
I ran a dedicated circuit for the opener and when I needed a dedicated circuit
breaker, I could not find the style I need. I checked at places like Home Depot and Builder's Square. When I could not
find them at a retailer, I decided to check the Inet and ran across several testimonials and other investigative
documents, including yours, citing they are unsafe. Are there safe replacement StabLok (single pole) breakers available?
Are the existing breakers safe? (My guess is they are not) Robert T to DJF - December 28, 1998
Federal Pacific No Trip report - I read that the majority of problems is with 2-pole 240V FPE circuit
breakers. I have a two FPE panels in my home installed around 1989. I have single pole 120V breakers that will not
trip. I recently took a hot line and touched it it to ground. The current draw was so large that every light in the
house dimmed but the breaker never tripped.
After this incident I began to check further. I placed a 40 AMP load on a
20 AMPcircuit. Same result no breaker trip. Can you offer any advice on how to get these panels and breakers replaced.
I know I am sitting on a fire waiting to happen.
Joe T. to DJF - January 04, 1999
FPE no trip report by electrician - Dan I am a electrical contractor and have been in the field for many years.
Approx. 2 months ago I was doing a service swing and the old panel was a fpe 100 amp. Single phase. Before removing the meter I tried turn off the main breaker it would not turn off. After several tries I had to hit it with my claw hammer with much force to turn it off the panel was removd and a new service and panel were installed.
Upon further looking at the old fpe panel it was noted that 5 other branch circuit breakers all single pole were the same as the main breaker. If you could would you please send me any infro about the fpe panels that you have researched.Ed to DJF -
FPE no trip, loose breakers, report - I have been getting a number of failures of FP breakers by
disconnect with the panel. Power is lost due to poor contact caused by inadequate pressure from the panel cover. Some
replacement breakers are 3rd party (They do not have the FP name) and these breakers are slightly different in the level
of the faces meeting the cover. The breaker faces meeting the cover is slightly steplike. The workaround is to use
electrical tape on the panel to make up the difference and hold all breakers in tight. It is a bandaid solution and if
you don't get it right, some CBs will be loose, contact breaks and eventually the sparking burns both the breaker and
thepanel contact point.
I polished the burned contacts with sandpaper and even filled some of the burned pits
on the breaker with solder. I'm trying to find a replacement for that breaker (2 pole 40 amp, ~$47) but haven't yet.
After reading the report on FP breakers, I'm wondering if I should just replace the panel.
I have tried
adusting the 4 screws to change the pressure but have only gut feeling to go on.
Two of these kinds of failures
occurred when I bought the house in 1996. The inspector when I bought the house refused to order replacement of the
panel saying that the box was serviceable. He fixed it for a while by adjusting the 4 screws. Since then, failures have
been irregular until lately.
The latent hazards due to failure to break is news to me. I may have a case
against the inspection company that refused to order replacement when I bought the house in 1996. Virg B to DJF -
FPE no trip, clothes dryer fire report 08/04/1998: I just pruchased a home with these breakers. Tthe other day I
went to get a double pole breaker for a new ac installation and was advised to junk the whole system and put in a new box
The following day, my wife was home doing the laundry, when all of a sudden the dryer was smoking
She immediately puuled the plug and called me. I had her check the circuit breaker and sure enough, it was
NOT tripped. The dryer motor was completely burnt out. thank god my wife was in the house! I am going to purchase a new
GE box today. I hope these breakers are reliable? Steve to DJF - 8/4/98
FPE no trip, house fire report 09/05/1998: It stemmed from the toaster with a bagel and after a short period
engulfed a whole wall of cabints.....luckily were all safe....but my home and posessions are a mess. If it was not for
my effort with the garden hose my structure would have been seriously damaged........still my costing puts damages at 70
to 85k and that may be conservative.
Speaking to the firemen they said i could have been electrocuted....The
breakers never tripped.They had to physically shut them. I have a federal Pacific panel and such is my connection to
you. The electrician I ask also said the samething. What is the problem? Why am I risking my family all these
years....The box is being changed in two weeks and I will never buy a house with this material again. $1,500.00
Is ther anyone I should inform of this? What about my neighbors? most of the homes were built in the same time period by
the same developer and probably with the same electric contracor and same architect. I think this is an outrageous
hazard for people to live in. How and what should I do.
It makes me laugh how we as a society take all sorts
of precautions for protection and when we come home we are in danger . If this breaker didn't trip at my fire event then
I am convinced that these are never going too and instead of circuit breakers they are killer contacts. Please email me.
Manfinger to DJF - 9/5/98
Items below added 3/8/2006 from Mike Holt's website online forum - http://www.mikeholt.com/forum/Forum1/HTML/005092.html - readers should see
Mr. Holt's site directly for additional details and other discussion points regarding this and many other electrical topics.
Florida FPE Stab Lok field failure report, January 03, 2003 -
Allen Wayne, Location: Florida
In Trade Since: 1975 --
Charlie obviously you have had little experience with these BREAKERS FPE breakers were banned from being manufactured years ago
due to their problems.About 15 years ago I went on a service call in N.Y.C. The customer complained of a buzzing from the panel it was a stab loc FPE panel,what i found was that a circuit was grounded out and the breaker was hot enough so that you couldn`t touch it,I had to hit the handle with my kliens to shut it off,IT didnt trip,
the bx was red hot at the connector at the top of the panel that was where the short was.
Remember bx had no ground it used the case as a ground the connector was loose so it didn`t have a good ground.If left unoticed there would have been a fire,this is why they were taken off the market in the
first place!!!!!!!So from personal experience
These need to be replaced with a panel that works as designed,A few dollars spent could save a priceless life.After all we all deal with peoples lives everytime we do any type of installation.And I for one like to slepp well at night
to DJF -
Florida FPE Stab Lok field failure report, January 03, 2003 - charlie trowbridge
In Trade Since: 58
I worked for a company 25 years ago that had the job of replacing fpe breakers resulting in a recall issue. these were not load center type breakers--the were feeder breakers in switchboards and panelboards. sixty per cent of our work is investigative type stuff using data loggers, not nessesarily the repair end, but the "cause end".. we come across alot of defective materials--i used to save it---and it was basically from all manufacturers.
i've come across square d breakers that melted the breaker apart--i've recorded loads of sixty amps on a two pole 20 amp ite breaker. you can still buy the fpe stablock breakers. they are in operation in many residences.
One of the problems in your post states the bx connector being "loose" and this "might?" be part of the problem with the breaker not tripping---it might be seeing the resistance of the bx's outer shield as a load??? the point i make is this---if these fpe stablock breaker were a danger to the public, i think the industry would stop making and selling
them, and there would be a recall in effect... to DJF -
To offer electrical equipment (Aluminnum wiring,FPE, Zinsco, other) field failure reports, text, photos, and offers of discontinued FPE equipment for use in independent research
Continue reading at FPE FAILURE FIRE PHOTOS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
See FPE HAZARD REPORT - 2017 [PDF] independent research article by Jess Aronstein, supercedes older FPE hazard reports by this author.
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ANSI/AIHA Z-10-2005, "Safety management, The NEw Benchmark for Safety Management Systems", AIHA, retrived 5/20.2014, original source: http://www.asse.org/publications/standards/z10/docs/25-33Feb2006.pdf
American Industrial Hygiene Association, AIHA, "Compendium of Risk Assessment/Risk
Management Resources", (2002), retrieved 5/20/2014, original source: https://www.aiha.org/get-involved/VolunteerGroups/Documents/
American Industrial Hygiene Association, AIHA, "AIHA Position Statement on Risk Assessment and
Risk Management ", (2002), retrieved 5/20/2014, original source: https://www.aiha.org/government-affairs/PositionStatements/position02_Risk.pdf
American Industrial Hygiene Association, AIHA, "AIHA White Paper on Risk Assessment and Risk
Management", (2002), retrieved 5/20/2014, original source: https://www.aiha.org/government-affairs/WhitePapers/whitepaper02_Risk.pdf
Note: FPE field failure reports received in 2006, 2007, 2008 remain to be added to this database
Note: as we didn't add this reviewers list until 2007, this list of technical reviewers is incomplete; we have received comments and suggestions regarding this topic, edits and remarks included, from engineers and management from the US CPSC, electricians (many listed at our page on field reports of FPE failures), home inspectors, licensed electricians, and electrical engineers, and even a few attorneys and real estate agents, since 1986. Technical review, critique, content suggestions, questions, or clarifications are invited and where a contributor wishes, credit and links will be provided to that source. Contact us to provide feedback.
Dr. Jess Aronstein, electrical engineer, Poughkeepsie, NY, forensic engineering services, independent laboratory testing for various agencies email@example.com (independent electrical panel testing, including FPE Stab-Lok® panels, to April 2010)
David Carrier, electrical engineer, 53 Henmond Blvd., Poughkeepsie, NY 12603 845-430-7527 firstname.lastname@example.org (independent electrical panel testing, including FPE Stab-Lok® panels, beginning 2010)
Alan Carson, Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, Ontario. Mr. Carson is a home inspection professional, educator, researcher, writer, and a principal of Carson Dunlop Associates, a Toronto home inspection and education firm. Mr. Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors
Carl Grasso, Esq., Herzfeld & Rubin, New York, NY. Mr. Grasso is an attorney who managed a plaintiff's class action litigation against Federal Pacific Electric in New Jersey.
William King, US CPSC Director of Electrical Engineering (Ret).
Licensed Electricians: FPE FAILURE FIRE PHOTOS includes electricians who have provided cases and photographs of field failures of FPE equipment at this website.
Homeowners, Home Inspectors, Electricians: FPE FAILURE FIELD REPORTS includes anecdotal field reports provided by a range of contributors including electricians (and some home owners or home inspectors) who have provided cases and photographs of field failures of FPE equipment at this website.
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