Electrical panels literally fade into the wallpaper in many homes. They are rarely noticed until there is an electrical problem, such as a tripped breaker, or when an inspector or electrician needs to visit the home. An electrical panel is basically the point where all of the wiring for homes or businesses comes together at one single point. This allows for the electricity coming from the outside to be discontinued, via breakers, to one room or the entire dwelling. Also, the electrical panel holds the breakers that will ‘trip’ in the case of an overload, automatically cutting off the areas that caused the overload. An example of this is like not being able to use your microwave and hair dryer at the same time, because they will cause a breaker to trip. This means that somewhere in the electrical lines there is a problem. The breaker tripping is in effect an effort to stop an overload of electricity, and possible fire.
Federal Pacific Electrical Company was the top manufacturer of electrical panels for 30 years, starting in the 1950s.
Panels they produced were installed in homes and businesses all over the States, and no one knew the sleeping dragon they had introduced into their home or place of business. Even electricians did not understand the full dangers of the FPE panels until problems started cropping up in spectacularly dangerous ways. Malfunctions in FPE breakers were extremely common, and lucky home owners would catch this problem just as it was occurring at the panel.
Rumors About FPE Panels Spread
Many rumors laced with a large grain of truth started to circulate in the inspecting and electrician community. Some inspectors were told not to touch an FPE panel because they were notorious for arcing, causing electrocution that many were lucky enough to walk away from. On the downside, the arcing also caused painful injuries, and even death, as well. The panels would smoke, and in some cases, catch fire. This was another deadly, frightening aspect. Home owners would go to sleep, blissfully unaware that they may or may not wake up with their home burning down around their ears. For home owners aware of the dangers, but not quite willing to believe them fully, these panels often became no touch zones, better for their electrician to tinker with. A point of fact is that it is always safer to allow an electrician to work on a panel box of any brand or type.
FPE Panel Dangers Still Exist in Many Older Homes
FPE dangers still exist for the homes they remain installed in. An FPE panel may work well for years with no complications whatsoever, but when they malfunction, the results can be terrifying. Unchecked, with FPE breakers not doing their job, a massive surge of electricity could infiltrate a home, until electrical wires short or melt, generally in the walls or at the panel. What is the response time for your fire department?
If You Have One of These Panels Have it Inspected
As stated before, while many FPE Panels continue to work with no problem for years, it may be a good idea to talk with an electrician about possibly changing this panel out to one that is safer, or about inspecting its current safety. It is never wrong to overestimate the safety of loved ones and possessions where electricity is a concern. The dangers associated with the panels are not an event isolated to one or two cases. Replacing an FPE Panel or having it thoroughly inspected should be a real priority on your list. Get an opinion on yours from a professional, licensed electrician and listen to what he or she has to say. Do not underestimate the dangers of these panels. It may just save your home, your possessions, and your life.
Federal Pacific Panels are Hazardous
The danger is real. If you have one of these panels in your home you need to put the safety of your family first and have it replaced. They are a known fire hazard. They work just fine-right up to the point where they burn your house down. We are not trying to scare you, you just need to know the facts.
Don't take our word for it, visit the link below and see for yourself.
Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Electrical Hazards Website:
If you would like more information about your FPE electrical panel call and speak with our master electrician or call to schedule an appointment to see about replacing your FPE panel.
Panel estimates are always free.