These photos came from a recent service call that one of our technicians checked out. The breaker had failed to trip and the outlet literally burned up and had to be replaced.
The client had a Federal Pacific circuit breaker panel, which are known to have up to a 60-70% failure rate – failures which can result in burnouts like this. The bigger problem than this, however, is that they work fine otherwise. There is almost never any warning sign that there is a problem with this panel until it fails.
Federal Pacific Electric (or FPE) panels were manufactured between the 1950’s-70’s, and at the time they served their purpose. However they no longer meet federal safety requirements – in fact, these panels are no longer available as they were discontinued in the late 1970’s. The design idea of the Stab-Lok brand was good in theory, but the internal mechanisms of the breaker are faulty. Zinsco is another brand that is prone to problems.
Other brands (such as GE, Square-D, Eaton, etc.) are much better at meeting the safety code requirements.
Panels and installations are continually improving to meet the code standards. If you currently have FPE panels installed in your home, even if you haven’t had any issues, consider having it checked out. If you are actually having problems with the panel, we highly suggest getting a service upgrade.
Due to the high liability of this brand, we don’t warranty repair work on a FPE brand panel, we will only replace them to a more reliable brand.
Please contact us if you have any further questions or if you want to upgrade your service, or handle any other needs or questions – your safety is our top policy.