Circuit Breakers Defined
A circuit breaker is defined as an electrical switch, designed to protect an electrical circuit from damage caused by an overload or short circuit. A circuit breaker is meant to detect a fault condition of these types and interrupt current flow by “tripping”.
FPE Circuit Breakers
The problem with FPE Stab-Lok circuit breakers is that when an unsafe condition, such as an overload or short circuit occurs, the FPE breakers fails to “trip” which is what a circuit breaker is designed to do in an electrical system.
Federal Pacific Hazards
This hazard worsens for double pole breakers. Double pole breakers are used on higher load circuits, such as for a clothes dryer. Under certain conditions it is possible for one leg of these circuits to attempt to trip the breaker, resulting in a jammed breaker which at minimum will afterward not trip under any load condition, or worse yet cause a high risk failure.
The FPE Dilemma
Although documentation of persistent hazards, and real life loss exist, there are still individuals that chose to ignore the warning signs. For example, some people try assuming a position that the “since the home has not burned to the ground in the last 25 years, how could someone predict that it will”. Well, despite what some people postulate even with proof of the contrary, that FPE panels are hazards, this still can be a bone of contention. At Cooper Electric, we want our customers to be aware of any existing hazards.
FPE panels which are found in existing houses, 25 years and older, can/have burned homes down. As recently as, August of 2012 a Federal Pacific Electric Panel started a fire that burned a home down in the Wyoming Neighborhood of Cincinnati. The structure caught fire at the FPE panel in the garage of the home on Chisholm Trail and damage was estimated at $240,000. The home was over 25 years old.
FPE panels were popularly used in home construction in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has deemed them prone to failures, but has not recalled them. However, FPE had their UL Listings revoked in the 1980s.
Furthermore, incompetent handymen who install used FPE circuit breakers as band-aid fixes to replace failed FPE circuit breakers are not solving a more complex problem of the entire panel itself.
The variables of the conditions of the circuit breakers, how much load the circuit will be under, and IF the breaker will trip… all become part of the RISK that you are taking on with an FPE panel. The best solution for an FPE circuit breaker, is to replace the entire panel. A new panel from a proven manufacturer, who are still in busienss and have not been in litigation nor class action lawsuits for the lack of safety with their product, such as Federal Pacific Electric. Check out Inspectapedia
At Cooper Electric the panels and breakers we install have a Lifetime Manufacturers Warranty, and our workmanship for the installation of the panel is backed with a 10 year warranty.
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