Results 1 to 22 of 22
  1. #1
    David J. Edens's Avatar
    David J. Edens Guest

    Default FPE Pull-out subpanel

    We know about the issues with FPE breaker panels, but what about a 100A sub panel/pull-out style for an A/C system. The panel inside the house is a different brand. Should I recommend this for further evaluation or replacement by a licensed electrician. The panel if from a 1979 house. Thanks, David

    Similar Threads:
    Member Benefits1

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Old post, no replies....Bump .
    Did you take the cover off? If there was any sign of arcing or corrosion, I'd report that and call for evaluation or replacement.
    If the AC unit is also a '79 and there is no sign of trouble in the subpanel, I'd describe an aging system and use "expect to replace anytime" language, including the panel.

    John Kogel
    Home Inspection in Victoria BC, Sidney, Sooke, Saanich, Duncan, Cobble Hill, Mill Bay, Chemainus, Crofton, home inspector


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    2,365

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by David J. Edens View Post
    We know about the issues with FPE breaker panels, but what about a 100A sub panel/pull-out style for an A/C system. The panel inside the house is a different brand. Should I recommend this for further evaluation or replacement by a licensed electrician. The panel if from a 1979 house. Thanks, David

    IMO you're not out of line calling out any FPE product. In fact, it's borderline negligence if you don't.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    4,170

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    To my knowledge, the FPE panels with the aluminum buss bars and colored breakers are the only FPE products with known problems. Lots of older fuse type panels, mains, etc. that don't have the problematic design.
    Of course pretty much any FPE product out there is getting OLD and old electric equipment does not get any better with age.
    Correction, as pointed out by Scott P. Zinsco panels have the Aluminum buss bars, FPE has stab-lok breaker desgine and breakers that don't trip. Anything with a Stab-lock breaker would be suspect.
    See Federal Pacific Electric Panels: Fires Waiting to Happen, Debate Waiting to Be Ended website for more information on both FPE and Zinsco.

    Last edited by Jim Luttrall; 03-08-2009 at 06:49 PM.
    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  5. #5

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    I'm still trying to figure out what a "sub- panel/ pull out style is).

    I've never seen a 100 amp disconnect switch for an AC unit, so it can't be one of those? If it were just a disconnect switch, I wouldn't write it.


  6. #6
    Fred Warner's Avatar
    Fred Warner Guest

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    With the economy in the situation it's in, I think all FPE stuff should be burned down to scrap and recycled into dependable, reliable stuff. This means, of course, that all persons showing up with breakers and bus bars will be turned away at the gate.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,847

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    To my knowledge, the FPE panels with the aluminum buss bars and colored breakers are the only FPE products with known problems. Lots of older fuse type panels, mains, etc. that don't have the problematic design.
    Of course pretty much any FPE product out there is getting OLD and old electric equipment does not get any better with age.
    Zinsco is the one with the aluminum buss bars. FPE is the one with the Stab-Loc breaker.

    The first is a picture of a Zinsco with burn marks on the buss bars.
    The second is an FPE breaker that would not trip.

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images
    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 03-08-2009 at 10:04 AM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,243

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out ' *not a sub* panel ' panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Zinsco is the one with the aluminum buss bars.

    The first is a picture of a Zinsco with burn marks on the buss bars.
    Scott,

    My first introduction into the Zinsco problems was about 20 years when I very first started inspecting and found one which had the bus bar completely burned/arced/melted in two. The homeowner had "solved" the problem by installing a breaker at the bottom of the top part of the bus and a breaker at the top of the bottom part of the bus and fed from the top to the bottom, creating a 'split-bus' panel on that one leg.

    Unfortunately, that was before I started carrying a camera with me. I have wished I had a photo of that so many times ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    4,170

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Zinsco is the one with the aluminum buss bars. FPE is the one with the Stab-Loc breaker.
    Your right of course, I stand corrected. Slipped a few cogs in the old gray matter.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Niwot, Colorado
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Scott,

    Just curious: Besides the obvious signs of overheating, how do you know the FPE breaker would not trip? Did you simulate an overload or what? I used to see lots of them that look like that in the old neighborhoods around here, but never tested them...Don't like arcs & sparks.

    Ross

    Ross Morgan
    Morgan Inspection Service
    (Boulder and other weird areas too)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,847

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by Ross Morgan View Post
    Scott,

    Just curious: Besides the obvious signs of overheating, how do you know the FPE breaker would not trip? Did you simulate an overload or what? I used to see lots of them that look like that in the old neighborhoods around here, but never tested them...Don't like arcs & sparks.

    Ross
    Well, that is a good question. I check all breakers with an IR thermometer and when I pointed the IR thermometer at the breakers they showed 140f and 155f. They were hot to the touch. Fortunately the owner was home and I told him about it and he turned off the main to the house.

    The problem with the Stab-Loc is that you never know if they will trip of not. Their history is enough for me to call them out; also the fact that several insurance companies will not cover a home with them.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,847

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Your right of course, I stand corrected. Slipped a few cogs in the old gray matter.
    Another way to remember the them is that the dead-front on an FPE is difficult to remove without tripping breakers.

    The Zinsco panel might also say Sylvania/Zinsco or just Sylvania. Sylvania bought Zinsco.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Niwot, Colorado
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Scott,

    Thanks for the clarification. I was hoping you weren't shorting them out! I use an IR thermometer too, and fortunately I know that nearly all of the FPE's I've seen over the years have been upgraded to modern equip. And yeah, I hate having to tell students on University Hill in Boulder that I accidentally shut off all their electronics when I pulled a panel cover. It happens sometimes.

    Ross

    Ross Morgan
    Morgan Inspection Service
    (Boulder and other weird areas too)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    4,170

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Speaking of FPE, the house today had three FPE Stab-lok panels and FPE disconnect switches.
    These must have been some of the last ones made and installed (circa 1985) since they had the little advisory stickers about not having a UL listing on the breakers.

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images
    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  15. #15
    John Steinke's Avatar
    John Steinke Guest

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Let's not get completely hysterical, and toss the baby out with the bath water.

    Perhaps a better perspective can be had, if we reflect on Chevrolet's experience with the Corvair model.
    As THE car which Ralph Nader drove to fame, the Corvair still has it's defenders ... who make a pretty good case that the later years' models were fine cars. Yet, even if you accept Ralph's assertion that the Corvair was "unsafe at any speed," you would be nuts to apply that opinion across the board to all Chevrolet products - let alone expand it to the entire GM family.

    Ditto with the FPE issue. While the Stab-loc panels have been discussed here many times, whatever faults thay may have are limited to the breaker panels alone. None of the criticisms have any application to other FPE products - which, by the way, include another entirely different line of breakers that are in no way associated with the Stab-loc design.

    It is simple hysteria that would lead one to paint all FPE products with such a broad brush. Indeed, were I to review a report that confused such products, I would immediately discount the author's competence.


  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Rockwall Texas
    Posts
    4,519

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by John Steinke View Post
    Let's not get completely hysterical, and toss the baby out with the bath water.

    Perhaps a better perspective can be had, if we reflect on Chevrolet's experience with the Corvair model.
    As THE car which Ralph Nader drove to fame, the Corvair still has it's defenders ... who make a pretty good case that the later years' models were fine cars. Yet, even if you accept Ralph's assertion that the Corvair was "unsafe at any speed," you would be nuts to apply that opinion across the board to all Chevrolet products - let alone expand it to the entire GM family.

    Ditto with the FPE issue. While the Stab-loc panels have been discussed here many times, whatever faults thay may have are limited to the breaker panels alone. None of the criticisms have any application to other FPE products - which, by the way, include another entirely different line of breakers that are in no way associated with the Stab-loc design.

    It is simple hysteria that would lead one to paint all FPE products with such a broad brush. Indeed, were I to review a report that confused such products, I would immediately discount the author's competence.

    You mentioned Paint.

    The NEC code (as taken from the IRC) states in E3304.6 Integrity of electrical equipment.
    Internal parts of electrical equipment, including bus bars, wiring terminals, insulators and other surfaces, shall not be damaged or contaminated by foreign materials such as paint, plaster, cleaners or abrasives, and corrosive residues. There shall not be any damaged parts that might adversely affect safe operation or mechanical strength of the equipment such as parts that are broken; bent; cut; deteriorated by corrosion, chemical action, or overheating. Foreign debris shall be removed from equipment.


  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,847

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by John Steinke View Post
    Let's not get completely hysterical, and toss the baby out with the bath water.

    Perhaps a better perspective can be had, if we reflect on Chevrolet's experience with the Corvair model.
    As THE car which Ralph Nader drove to fame, the Corvair still has it's defenders ... who make a pretty good case that the later years' models were fine cars. Yet, even if you accept Ralph's assertion that the Corvair was "unsafe at any speed," you would be nuts to apply that opinion across the board to all Chevrolet products - let alone expand it to the entire GM family.

    Ditto with the FPE issue. While the Stab-loc panels have been discussed here many times, whatever faults thay may have are limited to the breaker panels alone. None of the criticisms have any application to other FPE products - which, by the way, include another entirely different line of breakers that are in no way associated with the Stab-loc design.

    It is simple hysteria that would lead one to paint all FPE products with such a broad brush. Indeed, were I to review a report that confused such products, I would immediately discount the author's competence.
    True to a point, but we also need to remember that about 75% or better of the FPE products in residental homes are the Stab-Loc breakers and panel design. This is based on what I have seen in the past 15+ years.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Niwot, Colorado
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by John Steinke View Post
    Let's not get completely hysterical, and toss the baby out with the bath water.

    Perhaps a better perspective can be had, if we reflect on Chevrolet's experience with the Corvair model.
    As THE car which Ralph Nader drove to fame, the Corvair still has it's defenders ... who make a pretty good case that the later years' models were fine cars. Yet, even if you accept Ralph's assertion that the Corvair was "unsafe at any speed," you would be nuts to apply that opinion across the board to all Chevrolet products - let alone expand it to the entire GM family.

    Ditto with the FPE issue. While the Stab-loc panels have been discussed here many times, whatever faults thay may have are limited to the breaker panels alone. None of the criticisms have any application to other FPE products - which, by the way, include another entirely different line of breakers that are in no way associated with the Stab-loc design.

    It is simple hysteria that would lead one to paint all FPE products with such a broad brush. Indeed, were I to review a report that confused such products, I would immediately discount the author's competence.
    You’re correct, of course, that the Stab-Loks are the most notorious FPE devices, with a documented history of false certifications & real failures. (Some other recalls have occurred, so if in doubt one should look it up.) Personally, I only got hysterical laughing at Rick’s paint joke ...Don't paint the FPE's!

    However, Scott’s experience that Stab-Loks are usually what's found in residential use is the same as mine. So, just to clarify, so that you don’t “immediately discount the author's competence”: FPE Stab-Lok panels & breakers are the ones that I was referring to when I said: “I know that nearly all of the FPE's I've seen over the years have been upgraded…”

    I didn’t mean to suggest that just because some equipment is labeled FPE that it should automatically be red-flagged...No. Fully inspected: Yes! Referred to an electrician if you have doubts about your knowledge on it: I would call him myself if I ran into that (& have in a couple other strange cases), so as not to cause my client an unwarranted expense that could also come back to haunt me if everything turns out to be OK.

    As for David’s original question here about “a 100A sub panel/pull-out style for an A/C system”: Well, I was never sure about exactly what he was looking at. (Could it have been a 100A-rated disconnect enclosure, with smaller fuses inside, or served by another breaker properly sized for the AC?)
    Anyway, I hope he didn't just get confused & got the answers he wanted, plus understood that every panel should be fully inspected wherever safely possible, and fully described, along with appropriate recommendations if needed.

    Cheers, Ross

    P.S. Some of you may want to note the proper spelling of "Stab-Lok" for future use in reports.

    Ross Morgan
    Morgan Inspection Service
    (Boulder and other weird areas too)

  19. #19
    Fred Warner's Avatar
    Fred Warner Guest

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Quote Originally Posted by David J. Edens View Post
    We know about the issues with FPE breaker panels, but what about a 100A sub panel/pull-out style for an A/C system. The panel inside the house is a different brand. Should I recommend this for further evaluation or replacement by a licensed electrician. The panel if from a 1979 house. Thanks, David
    I'm not sure by your post whether you're discussing an FPE Stab-Lok panel or some other brand, so I'm assuming FPE Stab-Lok in my following remarks.
    I'll ask a couple of obvious questions just to make a point: If I inspected your home and found that it had a fuse box with 1/3 of the circuits overfused, would it take you very long to correct the problem? Would you sleep well until it was corrected? Would the fact that your house has not burned down yet influence your decision as to taking corrective actions?

    Unlike over-fusing, FPE Stab-Lok breakers cannot be spotted like pennies used for fuses. They can not be tested by an electrician or an homeowner or home inspector. You may be able to switch it "on" and "off", but to really determine a functional test (overload and short-circuit conditions) on each breaker - one pole at a time for the double-pole ones - you just won't be able to actually determine the operating characteristics.

    Without doing live-current tests, it will be impossible to determine which breakers are defective and which ones are functional.

    It is widely accepted in the inspection industry that the presence of an FPE Stab-Lok panel is to be considered a "Safety Defect".

    Last edited by Fred Warner; 03-16-2009 at 06:18 AM. Reason: to address proper concerns raised by forum members

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Niwot, Colorado
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Fred, I know you mean well, but John was technically correct with his far-reaching Corvair analogy. It may sound inflammatory to say that other FPE equipment can be safe, but would you at least be willing to refer to the "FPE panels" you're talking about by their proper name, "FPE Stab-Lok service panels", just so he won't call you hysterical any more?

    We all agree, I think, that if you do see an FPE panel in a house it will probably be of the Stab-Lok variety, which are potentially dangerous and should be replaced.

    Meanwhile, seems like we got off on a wild tangent here. The "sub panel" David asked about sounded like a different type of device; He didn't mention any breakers & referred to what sounded to me like a standard AC disconnect handle. (further inspection and/or info needed) No bus bars/no breakers, maybe no problem. Guess we'll never know unless he writes back or sends a photo.

    Ross

    Ross Morgan
    Morgan Inspection Service
    (Boulder and other weird areas too)

  21. #21
    Fred Warner's Avatar
    Fred Warner Guest

    Default Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Ross and John, please take note I have amended my post immediately above to reflect your comments regarding being too general.

    Last edited by Fred Warner; 03-16-2009 at 09:40 AM. Reason: spelling error

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Niwot, Colorado
    Posts
    20

    Thumbs up Re: FPE Pull-out subpanel

    Way to go Fred. Now, if David would just write back & tell us what he was looking at...

    Ross Morgan
    Morgan Inspection Service
    (Boulder and other weird areas too)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •