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Evaluating Federal Pacific electric panels

Millions of electrical panels manufactured by Federal Pacific were sold and installed from the 1950s through the 1980s. Many still exist today, and are still causing problems.

This issue was highlighted during a recent “7 Can Help” report on KETV in Omaha.

Federal Pacific electrical panels have a high rate of failure and have been shown to be a safety hazard. If a breaker fails, we know that this concern can become a reality extremely quickly, according to experts at Angie’s List.

“Multiple tests done on the breakers since the 1980s have proven that one in four Stab-Lok breakers are defective and will not properly trip off,” according to Angie’s List. “Unfortunately, when the testing began in the early 1980s, a New Jersey court later ruled that FPE committed testing fraud and a cover-up, labeling the breakers as meeting the standards set by the UL when in reality, they were defective.”

Some electricians are under the impression that FPE panels are safe if they can turn every breaker on and off, if every breaker is tightly attached, and if there is no evidence of overheating or scorching in the panel – just like any other panel. But any breaker can fail at any time and the likelihood increases significantly with an FPE Stab-Lok breaker.

If your home was built between 1948 and 1998, check your breaker box. “A Federal Pacific panel will usually have its name or logo on the front cover. Inside, you will find the name Stab-Lok printed near the center or side of the panel. The intact breakers will have the signature red strip that runs across the front,” according to Angie’s List.

For more information, see our Resource Center. If AmeriSpec Omaha and Lincoln inspectors find an FPE panel in a home, we will recommend in our inspection comments that the panel should be evaluated and tested by a qualified, licensed electrician. We also will discuss his with the buyer and their broker, if appropriate.

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