Are you aware of the potential safety risks associated with Federal Pacific Electric panels in your home or commercial property? It’s crucial to understand the history and dangers posed by these breaker boxes, as well as the recommended actions you should take to mitigate risks. In this comprehensive beginner’s guide, we’ll explore seven key takeaways about Federal Pacific breakers, providing you with vital knowledge for informed decision-making.
Federal Pacific Breakers Pose Serious Safety Risks
Research has revealed alarming findings regarding the reliability of original Federal Pacific STAB-LOK breakers. Shockingly, these breakers failed to trip in over 25% of cases where they detected 135% electrical surges. Subsequent exposure to surges increased the failure rates up to 65%. To ensure your electrical safety, it is crucial to install new federal pacific breakers from reputable sources after encountering such surges.
The Breakers Were Never Recalled
In 1980, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) initiated an investigation into the safety of FPE electrical products. Despite the lack of a formal recall, subsequent studies have confirmed that these breakers, no longer in production, have been responsible for malfunctions and increased fire hazards. Understanding the history of these breakers empowers you to prioritize the safety of your property.
Homeowners Still Need to Replace FPE Equipment
The compelling evidence of malfunctioning Federal Pacific breakers raises concerns for homeowners. To-date, these breakers have caused approximately 2,800 house fires and tragically resulted in 13 deaths. Although not officially recalled, it is imperative to replace these breakers as a preventative measure. Experts often recommend replacing the entire panel, but individual replacement breakers are also available for homeowners who currently cannot afford new breaker boxes.
Homeowners Successfully Filed a Class Action Lawsuit
In 2005, homeowners affected by FPE breaker failures took legal action by filing a class-action lawsuit against the manufacturer. An expert examination of the FPE breakers during the investigation demonstrated their consistent poor performance in comparison to other UL-rated products. As FPE falsely claimed their breakers met UL standards, the claimants successfully sued the company for violating the Consumer Fraud Act. Understanding the legal aspects involved can help you make informed decisions.
Federal Pacific Is No Longer in Business
Once a leading circuit breaker manufacturer, the Federal Pacific Electrical Company sold its US business to Challenger Electric in 1986. Consequently, only one company produces breakers compatible with Federal Pacific panels. Electricians must procure these breakers from Connecticut Electric, as other brands do not fit correctly into the panel. Knowing where to obtain compatible breakers is essential for maintaining the integrity of your electrical system.
Federal Pacific Panels Can Cause Inspection Failures
Given the unreliability of FPE panels, they can potentially cause homes to fail inspections conducted for insurance purposes. These high-risk products continue to cause approximately $40 million in damages annually. Consequently, insurance companies view FPE panels unfavorably, leading to higher insurance rates or even complete blacklisting of properties with these panels. Familiarizing yourself with the impact on insurance can help you plan accordingly.
The Best Option Is Always to Replace the Panel
While it might be tempting to replace only the Federal Pacific breakers, replacing the entire panel is the best course of action. Although the cost of replacing the panel exceeds the cost of individual breakers, doing so significantly reduces the risk of electrical shocks and fires. Prioritizing safety and investing in a new panel is a wise decision to protect your property and occupants.
The Best Time to Take Action Is Now
If your property features breaker boxes manufactured by the now-defunct Federal Pacific Electrical Company, it’s crucial to take action promptly. While replacing individual faulty breakers is an option, given the extent of the problems associated with these products, it is safer and more cost-effective to install new breaker boxes altogether. If you have any doubts, consult with a trusted local electrician who can provide expert guidance.