The electrical panel for your home is the vital “switching station” where the voltage entering your home divides into separate circuits. The panel protects the electrical system in case of shorts and other electrical troubles by tripping breakers. It’s important that your house has a working electrical panel that will keep your home safe. If you have an old, outdated panel, or one that has suffered damage, it’s time to schedule an electrical panel replacement in Buffalo, NY.
There is a specific case where we recommend you call us right away for a panel replacement, and that’s if you have a Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) circuit breaker panel installed. Many homes still have these panels, and they pose significant fire hazards.
The Federal Pacific Electrical Panel Problem
FPE panels with Stab-Lok circuit breakers have a failure rate of 25% when suffering from a modest electrical overload. Not only will the panel fail, it would lockup, meaning the breaker would not trip in the future if it encountered an overload. And these were tests done on breaker switches that had never been used before. When tested on already used switches, the failure rate increased to 36%. When a circuit breaker does not respond, that means there is a major risk of a fire. That is, after all, why breakers trip in the first place: to stop the overload that may cause wiring to melt and create a fire. A breaker that doesn’t trip leaves a circuit open to damage from an uninterrupted electrical overload.
There is no “fix” for these Stab-Lok circuit breaker panels. They have to be replaced because the basic breakers themselves are defective.
Do I Have a Federal Pacific Electric Panel?
You may if your home was built between 1960 and 1990, when many of these panels were installed into new homes. The Consumer Product Safety Commission closed a two-year investigation into FPE panels in 1983 and concluded they could not issue a product recall at the time. This was in spite of evidence that more than 2,800 fires occurred annually because of the faulty Stab-Lok circuit breakers. What finally stopped the installation of the panels was Federal Pacific Electric going out of business—with the panels, unfortunately, still in place. And getting worse with the years.
If your house is the right age to have a FPE panel, or it had a panel installed between 1960 and 1990, go check your breaker box. The Federal Pacific Electric name should be on the panel cover. Open up the panel and look at the top of the rows of breakers to see if the word Stab-Lok is printed at the top. If you find this, it’s time to call us to replace the panel—you have a major fire hazard waiting to happen!
Please don’t look to an amateur to “fix” an old panel or install a new one. Panel replacement is one of the most important jobs you can hire an electrician to do. You want it done accurately and safely. We have the licensed technicians who will ensure you have a new panel that will protect your home and family.
Scherer Electric is Western New York’s Favorite Electrician! Schedule service for a new electrical panel today.