If you watch the evening news, from time to time you hear a report about a product recall for a safety defect. In our society, recalls have become routine and we consumers have become accustomed to being told through the media about specific recalls. Imagine if there was a serious risk with the brakes on your car, you would want to know about it, right? Federal Pacific Electrical Panels (or FPE) also have a serious safety defect and have been installed in millions of homes; however a recall has never been issued. Why?
The full story of Federal Pacific Electrical Corporation is a corporate yarn filled with fraud, deception and legal battles, but in the end the Consumer Product Safety Commission ran out of money while pursuing the investigation back in 1983. The CPSC’s final position says “that the matter is closed without making a determination of safety.” Reassuring huh?
Many independent tests have been conducted since then which tell of 70% failure rates in many of the 2 pole circuit breakers. The Federal Pacific Electrical company is now defunct and replacement parts are hard to find except on the internet.
Between 1950 and 1980 FPE “Stab-Lok” electrical panels were installed in millions of new homes across the entire United States and are still being used in thousands of homes in the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs. These electrical panels are considered a latent fire hazard which means the circuit breakers pose a high risk when your electrical system acts up or you have an overloaded circuit.
The danger posed by the high failure rate of these circuit breakers is the main reason most electricians, home inspectors, realtors, insurance companies and local fire chiefs are recommending immediate replacement of the entire electrical panel. Although a class action suit was awarded in New Jersey in 2002 to homeowners who were original to the home, most homeowners who are replacing their panel have had paid out of pocket for the expense.
Do you have an FPE in your home?
Here are a few ways to tell by just looking at your electrical panel:
- Red or orange handles on the circuit breakers
- “Federal Pacific” or “FPE” will be on the panel cover
- “Stab-Lok” will be on the panel cover
WARNING! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TAKE THE COVER OFF OF THE PANEL.
Even experienced electricians have a hard time safely getting the cover off of a FPE Stab-Lok panel.
Do your Homework
If you think you have an FPE panel in your home or know someone who does, we encourage you to read about this topic online and give us a call. These panels have been described as ticking time bombs. We will be able to consult with you on replacement and complete the work necessary to remove your old panel and install a new one backed by a lifetime warranty. We have replaced hundreds of FPE panels and perform panel replacements routinely. 651.587.5512.