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  1. #1
    Jody Humbert's Avatar
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    Question Pushmatic Panels

    Is there a reason that a pushmatic panel would be considered defective just because it is a pushmatic? I had a realtor call and ask me if I defect all pushmatic panels. I replied that as long as it passes my inspection( minimum amperage, properly grounded, no double taps, proper wire size and breakers.... etc.) then it is acceptable. I do note that replacement breakers can be more expensive than today's circuit breakers. I also had an electrician try to tell a client that I missed the call on a Bulldog 125 amp split bus panel. He said it was only 60 amp(largest breaker listed in panel for main lighting) and basically called it a "glorified" 60 amp panel. This electrician had 32 years experience. I had to spend $80 for a second opinion from an electrician that we both agreed upon. That still saved me $1300 for a new 100 amp panel! Any thoughts on Pushmatics? Thanks for any replies.

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  2. #2
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    JH: Not necessarily "defective", but rather "obsolete".


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Agreed, I also note that (AFAIK) there no AFCI breakers available for these panels, and that that in this respect they cannot be upgraded to the safety standards required of current installations.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    JH: Not necessarily "defective", but rather "obsolete".
    Agree with Michael and Aaron - they are obsolete and I would "recommend replacement" for that reason.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Jody Humbert View Post
    Is there a reason that a pushmatic panel would be considered defective just because it is a pushmatic?
    No.

    Just because no AFCIs are available does not mean they are obsolete or "defective". Codes are not grandfathered so there is no mandatory reason to have to install AFCIs. Why would they need to "be upgraded to the safety standards required of current installations"?? That would be a service change IMO.
    If a renovation is done that is another story.

    Pushmatics were very good breakers in their day and you can still get replacements. Replacing a breaker would NOT demand an AFCI either. It is the circuit that requires AFCIs, and replacing a breaker is NOT altering the branch circuit.
    About the only thing I don't like is that very old ones, or ones that are in a harsh environment, have the tenancy to not reset. I have never had an issue where they would not trip or shut off.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    No.

    Just because no AFCIs are available does not mean they are obsolete or "defective". Codes are not grandfathered so there is no mandatory reason to have to install AFCIs. Why would they need to "be upgraded to the safety standards required of current installations"?? That would be a service change IMO.
    If a renovation is done that is another story.

    Pushmatics were very good breakers in their day and you can still get replacements. Replacing a breaker would NOT demand an AFCI either. It is the circuit that requires AFCIs, and replacing a breaker is NOT altering the branch circuit.
    About the only thing I don't like is that very old ones, or ones that are in a harsh environment, have the tenancy to not reset. I have never had an issue where they would not trip or shut off.
    Peter,

    A good post from an electrician, ...

    ... however, from a home inspector's* point of view, they are obsolete and we should recommend replacement, just like for that 50 year old a/c which is still being used, or that 100 year old boiler which is still being used.

    Those pieces of equipment *are obsolete* and our (home inspectors) clients need to be advised of such - NOTHING last "forever" and the home inspectors clients are hiring the home inspector to, among other things, advise them of such things.

    The electrician could then accept the challenge to explain to the seller why something 50 years old is still in everyday service and is "okie dokie" for now ... and that "for now" part is the kicker.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    From my POV I would state that as long as there is no water damage, Bulldog/ITE/Pushmatic breakers are/were good quality breakers that functioned quite well. If they are still in good physical shape, there is no renovation is being done, and an upgrade is not required, I would suggest that no action be taken.
    And yes, I would sign my name it it.


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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Panels are a tough one because when they stop functioning propelry they still 'work' as far as most are concerned. It's really one of the only things in a house that isn't obvious when it should be replaced.


  9. #9
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    From my POV I would state that as long as there is no water damage, Bulldog/ITE/Pushmatic breakers are/were good quality breakers that functioned quite well. If they are still in good physical shape, there is no renovation is being done, and an upgrade is not required, I would suggest that no action be taken.
    And yes, I would sign my name it it.
    SP: And everyone knows that your signature carries an enormous amount of weight.


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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    If they are obsolete why aren't home insurance companies demanding that these breakers be replaced like they do with knob and tube wire in order to get house insurance?


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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    If they are obsolete why aren't home insurance companies demanding that these breakers be replaced like they do with knob and tube wire in order to get house insurance?
    Because that is not why insurance companies are not insuring homes with knob and tube.

    Being "obsolete" typically does not affect the insurability of the house. Being obsolete affects "the cost" of living in and maintaining a house.

    Knob and tube, on the other hand, has inherent problems, such as improper extensions, being buried in insulation, having deteriorated insulation, and a myriad of other things which affect "the safety" of the house and its occupants.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    SP: And everyone knows that your signature carries an enormous amount of weight.
    Yes, in some instances it actually does.
    Thanks for the kind words though.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    I agree with Pete 100%. I would not ever and never will recommend a Pushmatic for replacement based solely on it's age. Thats a ridiculous concept to me. They were great panels/breakers.

    Exactly what is the life expectancy of an electrical panel anyway? Can anyone tell me? (based on some kind of research)

    I would trust a Pushmatic to trip on overload more then I would most brand new modern breakers. And you can get replacement new, OEM breakers for nearly a dime a dozen on ebay, including GFCI breakers.

    You really feel the need to rush out and put AFCI's on certain circuits, (personally I think they are a huge scam) put a small sub panel coming off the Pushmatic and install those few circuits on the sub.

    Home Inspectors also need to be rational, not to mention educated. People don't need to rush out and replace everything in their house that is just old. A defect is a defect but old is not necessarily a defect.

    My opinion. Worth what you paid for it.


  14. #14
    James Foy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    On an older house that I was not inspecting--an electrician said that over the years of service, the push-matics were very reliable and he would only replace them if necessary. If you did a renovation, there is no prohibition in the NEC to using AFCI's in an equipment service panel that was located after the main service panel, as long as it was properly sized.


  15. #15
    Jim Katen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Some things to consider:

    1. Not all pushmatic panels & breakers are 50 years old. I've seen several that were installed in the '80s and one that was installed new in 1990 -- though I suspect it was new old stock. (Does anyone know when they stopped producing Pushmatic panels?)

    2. The research that I've seen on older electrical equipment found that old breakers generally continue to work well even after 50 years of service. (FPE and certain other troublesome brands excepted -- they generally performed poorly from the get-go though.)

    3. The lack of AFCI breakers for Pushmatic equipment doesn't bother me. If someone wants AFCI protection, he can always install a small branch panel to handle the AFCI circuits. However, old Pushmatic breakers (like all old breakers) are obsolete in one other important regard. Their current interrupt rating is at least half that of modern breakers. If I owned a home with a Pushmatic panel, I'd want to install a new replacement breaker in the main position(s). That way if the utility sent a high voltage fault my way, the panel wouldn't blow up.

    4. I really like the Pushmatic design. The breakers were very reliable and the panels were stout and roomy. Besides, how many other residential panels could boast bolted bus bar connections (besides Frank Adam, which was pretty much gone by the mid '50s)?

    - Jim Katen, Oregon


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Typically, these panels end up in the FYI section of my report, IMO it's my responsibility to point out my clients these panels cannot be updated to modern safety standards, and that to do so is more expensive than in the case of a newer panel which can accept AFCI breakers.

    -------------------

    In my market, when I encounter these panels they are often upgrades of even older service equipment, and are often connected to at least some older rubber-insulated cloth-covered branch circuit conductors, and it's not uncommon for these in turn to be connecting to some knob and tube, or for there to be abandoned K&T and no easy way to tell if there may be some additional energized K&T buried somewhere in the walls and ceilings. (I have seen a few feet of energized or abandoned K&T turn into extensive wiring projects - around here no one who will now insurer K&T).

    If either of these conductor types are present, you know that there's a good chance that there is deteriorated branch circuit wiring wiring downstream of the panel, that this wiring is going to continue to deteriorate, and that AFCI breakers are going to provide meaningful additional protection. For me that's still an FYI, but it's going to include additional explanation of my concerns.

    --------------------

    IMO, this is one of the general differences between working as a tradesperson and performing home inspections: in the first case you tend to be concerned about whether a given installation is compliant with the codes in force at the time it was performed, if it's functioning properly at the moment, and if there defects in the portion you observe while performing the service, as a home inspector your clients are not only concerned about these issues, but about potential future costs of upgrades and long-term reliability and safety.

    This is similar to the difference between taking a used car to the mechanic to deal with a specific problem and taking the same car in to have it evaluated before you buy it, in the first case your question is "What do I need to do to fix this radiator leak?" in the second it's "How safe is this car to drive" and/or "will it run another 10,000 miles without major repairs?".

    This produces a very different set of assumptions about your responsibilities to your clients and the sort of recommendations and supplemental observations you need to be making.

    If you are an electrician called in to replace a malfunctioning circuit breaker you unlikely to hear from your customer a few years later that they are upset because you failed to explain to them that the service panel cannot support their new all electric kitchen, or that the insurance company will not insure their house because 4 feet of K&T wiring is visible in attic, or because an electrician called into change a light fixture points out that the insulation on branch circuit wiring in the outlet box is falling to pieces.

    As home inspector you can be absolutely certain that you're going to get these sorts of calls unless you ask your clients what their remodeling plans are when you encounter a hundred amp service, or alert them in no uncertain terms to the possibility that "functional" knob and tube wiring is unacceptable to the insurance company, or fail to point out the maintenance and safety implications of older branch circuit wiring you observed in the service panel - including the fact that AFCI protection becomes increasingly important as wiring ages.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 07-10-2009 at 08:33 AM.
    Michael Thomas
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  17. #17
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    How many of you who do not call obsolete equipment what it is in your reports would install the same worn-out crap in your own houses?


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    1) Jim Katen and myself are Home Inspectors and have been for many years, although both of us have extensive hands on, practical experience in the electrical fields, unlike most home inspectors.

    2) Show me some documented source that says a Pushmatic panel/breaker is "Obsolete"... Show me evidence of just one panel that is "Worn out"
    If the AFCI argument is all you have, it's a pretty weak argument in my opinion, especially here in NJ where the "requirement" for AFCI was struck from the codes right from the beginning. The only thing more weak would be the limited protection AFCI's really provide, they are not by any definition a be all/end all of electrical safety.
    As Jim said, they were produced into the eighties. You call this old and worn out?

    3) I know at least one inspector who has installed two Pushmatic panels in his own home and I have thought several times about doing the same, if I could get my hands on the one, just cause I think they are cool & unique.

    Inspectors have an obligation to protect there clients, from real dangers and from wasting excessive money because they were sent into a frenzy by an inspector myth with no validation at all.

    Last edited by Kyle Kubs; 07-10-2009 at 08:06 AM.

  19. #19
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    I know at least one inspector who has installed two Pushmatic panels in his own home and I have thought several times about doing the same, if I could get my hands on the one, just cause I think they are cool & unique.
    KK: And with that statement, out the window goes all the credibility you may have mustered.


  20. #20
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    By the way, all of you sparkies who are avoiding Esther's request for electrical information, please take note that we feel the pain of your lack of knowledge on the subject:

    http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_i...html#post91363


  21. #21
    Kyle Kubs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    KK: And with that statement, out the window goes all the credibility you may have mustered.
    AD.

    Documented proof, to back up any of your statements...


  22. #22
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyle Kubs View Post
    AD.

    Documented proof, to back up any of your statements...
    KK:

    Bill King, engineer at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC, 2004), indicates that if safety proponents do not deal with the issue of older residences and the inherent aging wiring systems, then the fire, fatality, injuries, and property losses have great potential for catastrophe. Homeowners generally upgrade construction components including roofs, windows, furnaces, and even electrical circuit breaker boxes or fuse panels. However, the remainder of the electrical wiring system is out of sight and unfortunately out of mind all too often. Wiring concealed in walls and their branch circuits are typically neglected and hardly ever are replaced (Lardear, p. 1, 2004).

    While you may not consider it important to inform your clients that a component is (1) old, (2) no longer produced, (3) impossible to upgrade to current NEC standards for wiring protection, and (4) hard to find expensive replacement breakers for, some of us do.

    Where you might permit your family to live in a house with an FPE, Zinsco, or Bulldog panel, most of us would not.

    The majority disagrees with you.



  23. #23
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyle Kubs View Post
    If the AFCI argument is all you have, it's a pretty weak argument in my opinion, especially here in NJ where the "requirement" for AFCI was struck from the codes right from the beginning.

    IMO, that's an excellent illustration of my point: as a home inspector it does not matter to me what the local AHJ declines to enforce, the "utility" of an AFCI in terms of increased safety is exactly the same in a jurisdiction that adopted the AFCI requirements and one that is not; when deciding when to trip an AFCI pays attention to current flow, not the the local AHJ.

    IMO our recommendations as home inspectors (as opposed our practical concerns as tradepersons to establish what must be done so that our work passes inspection) ought to be completely independent of the willingness of the local AHJ to fully adopt the current code, instead they should be based on our judgment, judgment, experience, and objective analysis of the best information available to us.

    And IMO this is true despite the fact that often, when formulating our recommendations, two or more things can be true at once,.

    For example:

    1) Based on my experience, what I've been told by experienced electricians, and what I have read, these panelboards are at least as reliable as most others on the market, and assuming that they are in otherwise good condition I do not regard them as automatic candidates for replacement based on their apparent age.

    2) AFAIK, there no AFCI circuit breakers available for these panels. Based on what I've read, It has been demonstrated that the risk of fire in electrical distribution wiring increases with the age the system. The CPSC estimates AFCI breakers reduce the risk of fire in residential electrical distribution systems by around 50%, which were AFCIs installed per the 2008 NEC and all US residential housing translates into around 20,000 fewer fires and 150 fewer deaths per year, with the proportion of the fires avoided skewing toward older housing.

    With these two things in mind, in my judgment I would be remiss if I did not point out the client that this safety device was available, that it is required in the most current revisions of the national electrical code, and that will be more expensive to install in a system employing this type of panelboard.

    It's also my judgment that if I observe evidence of older and/or deteriorated branch circuit conductors, that I should make my clients aware that this wiring with age becomes increasingly subject to a type of fault against which a ACFI breakers provide significant protection.

    And I certainly would not want to find myself in the position, should such a fire occur, of explaining to myself or anyone else that I failed to inform my client of these facts because the AFCI requirement has been "struck from the (local) codes right from the beginning" or because in my opinion "they are not by any definition a be all/end all of electrical safety".

    YMMV.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 07-10-2009 at 09:39 AM.
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    How many of you who do not call obsolete equipment what it is in your reports would install the same worn-out crap in your own houses?
    Who in the world is talking about installing them now??? We are talking about existing installations.

    It would seem to you that you should call out a 30 year old Chevy for replacement because it is old and obsolete, even though it may be a classic and in fine shape. Oh wait, I forgot, it is "defective" because there are no air bags, right?


  25. #25
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    KK: And, it seems, your sparky brethern agree with the majority as well.

    Electrical Forum - pushmatic electrical panel....dangerous?


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    Who in the world is talking about installing them now??? We are talking about existing installations.

    It would seem to you that you should call out a 30 year old Chevy for replacement because it is old and obsolete, even though it may be a classic and in fine shape. Oh wait, I forgot, it is "defective" because there are no air bags, right?
    SP: Of course, I am bearing in mind that I am corresponding with someone fond of the handle "Speedy Petey", and not "Thorough Morrow", "Meticulous Mell", or "Focused Freddy", so I will go easy on you.

    A good analogy would be this: Even though the tires on your old wreck vehicle are still inflated and appear from a distance to be reasonbly functional, they also have 70K miles on them and no tread. Yes, they will keep the wheels isolated from the pavement, and (assuming that you have good wheel bearings) they will also roll. Are they functionally obsolete? Should you drive on them?


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    SP: Of course, I am bearing in mind that I am corresponding with someone fond of the handle "Speedy Petey", and not "Thorough Morrow", "Meticulous Mell", or "Focused Freddy", so I will go easy on you.

    A good analogy would be this: Even though the tires on your old wreck vehicle are still inflated and appear from a distance to be reasonbly functional, they also have 70K miles on them and no tread. Yes, they will keep the wheels isolated from the pavement, and (assuming that you have good wheel bearings) they will also roll. Are they functionally obsolete? Should you drive on them?
    To follow your analogy, just replace the old tires with new tires (or really good used tires)--unless the vehicle is a Zinnsco (sp?) in which case it should be scrapped.

    Or maybe the thinking should be that a worn out Yugo should be scrapped, and a worn out American muscle car (your pick: mustang, charger, camaro, GTO) could be rebuilt, and some newer parts could be used to replace the worn out parts. In any case the parts should not be abused or taken beyond their accepted limitations.


  28. #28
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by James Foy View Post
    To follow your analogy, just replace the old tires with new tires (or really good used tires)--unless the vehicle is a Zinnsco (sp?) in which case it should be scrapped.

    Or maybe the thinking should be that a worn out Yugo should be scrapped, and a worn out American muscle car (your pick: mustang, charger, camaro, GTO) could be rebuilt, and some newer parts could be used to replace the worn out parts. In any case the parts should not be abused or taken beyond their accepted limitations.
    JF: I am certain that your "reasoning" does not at all follow my analogy. What, if anything, it may be pleading is beyond me. Please clarify.


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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    SP: Of course, I am bearing in mind that I am corresponding with someone fond of the handle "Speedy Petey", and not "Thorough Morrow", "Meticulous Mell", or "Focused Freddy", so I will go easy on you.
    More typical adolescent B-S.
    Not that I need to explain anything to you, but there is a reason for my nickname, and it has nothing to do with my profession.

    I had hoped this site was a bit better than the "other" H-I site I used to frequent. I guess not.
    There is always one or two that give a site a bad vibe.


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Your analogy (tires) is a replacement item that wears out over time, analogous to the breakers. Worn out tires do not require replacement of the car, just because the car is old. The car analogous to the enclosure. If the enclose is in good, condition, the breakers can be replaced--if they are not a problematic item (you wouldn't put the same brand/run of defective tires on your Ford Exploder, you would put on a functional tire). I think you're talking about a replaceable wear item as opposed to an enclosure, because, by the time the enclosure needs replacing, it is also probably time to replace the wiring. Or did I miss the recommendation for replacing the wiring of a house of a certain age?


    Mind you, I'm in the desert area of California and there are 40 and 50 year old cars out here with little or no rust and original paint jobs, inspectors in our more humid areas may have different experiences with the boxes. Also, Southern California has fewer houses built prior to the population explosion after WWII then many inspectors East of the Mississippi.


  31. #31
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Not that I need to explain anything to you, but there is a reason for my nickname, and it has nothing to do with my profession.
    SP: OK, let me guess. You are quick to jump to conclusions?

    I had hoped this site was a bit better than the "other" H-I site I used to frequent. I guess not.
    SP: No one is forcing you to be here, least of all me.


  32. #32
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    Who in the world is talking about installing them now??? We are talking about existing installations.

    It would seem to you that you should call out a 30 year old Chevy for replacement because it is old and obsolete, even though it may be a classic and in fine shape. Oh wait, I forgot, it is "defective" because there are no air bags, right?

    That brings me to my comments I always stated about old air conditioning units, and which apply equally well here ... well sort of equally well here:

    The air conditioning unit is old, and while like an old car, parts can be changed to keep it operating for a very long time, when all is said and done and replaced, all you have is an old air conditioning unit with new parts, ... unlike the old and now classic car, ... there is nothing classic about that old energy hog air conditioning unit.

    While the electrical panel 'is not an energy hog', older equipment is simply more prone to failure than newer equipment, and one *does not want* old electrical protective equipment to fail, the result could be deadly.

    And, yes, if it is 40-50 years old, it is "obsolete". That does not mean it is "not working", it simply means it is more expensive to repair/replace/more likely to fail

    The difference between the Bulldog Pushmatics and FPE and Zinsco is that FPE and Zinsco are "obsolete AND inherently unsafe", while the Bulldog Pushmatic is simply "obsolete".

    Yes, you can get in that classic old Chevy and fix it up and keep it running, even restore it, and drive it everyday, and you have a "classic car", not unlike my 1983 Jaguar XJS I use as my "daily driver".

    Yes, you can install new breaker in that old Pushmatic panel, regardless, you still have an old electrical panel which is obsolete.

    Is that old Chevy obsolete? You bet it is. Is my old Jag obsolete? You bet it is. That is what makes them "classics". There is nothing "classic" about keeping that old Bulldog Pushmatic panel, though.

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

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  34. #34
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    There is nothing "classic" about keeping that old Bulldog Pushmatic panel, though.
    JP: Amen.


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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    I had hoped this site was a bit better than the "other" H-I site I used to frequent. I guess not.
    Not naming the "other" HI board, I hope we are better.

    There is always one or two that give a site a bad vibe.
    Peter,

    Get a thick skin or we will skin the thin skinned alive - I partake of that myself sometimes too.

    You can add good information to this board, but if your skin it too thin to take comments and criticisms, then I hope you wear armor instead of leaving.

    Nonetheless, though, HIs have a contract with THEIR CLIENT which requires them to act in the best interest of THEIR CLIENT and not to overlook items which could come back and bite their clients in the rear when their clients become sellers.

    If it is old and obsolete now, it is only going to be older and more obsolete in the future.

    Remember, an old car is not a "protective device", it has protective devices in it - the electrical panel and its breakers are "protective devices".

    When your old car needs new brakes, do you remove the brake shoes and reline them, or replace all new? How about the worn out drums which have been turned to thin? We are not talking about "replacing the car" because the brakes are old and obsolete, we are talking about "replacing the brakes" to make that car keep going and become a classic, if not already a classic.

    Using Aaron's example of the tires, let's say you have old tires on that car, real old tires, made before DOT date codes were required - the tread is EXCELLENT, nice wide white walls, still holding air, yeah, the rubber looks a bit cracked from age, so you take the overall look and say 'Yep, dem der tires be okay to drive on.'.

    You take the car out on the street and don't even get up to 60 mph when you have a blow out - because of age - that was the ONLY defect - they were "obsolete".

    Do you replace the car? Depends, did it burn down like a failed breaker might cause, or did you just blow a tire? Replace the tires, replace the panel, save the car, save the house.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  36. #36
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    If they are obsolete why aren't home insurance companies demanding that these breakers be replaced like they do with knob and tube wire in order to get house insurance?
    Latent safety issue versus immediate safety issue. And, like everything with insurance, statistics.


  37. #37
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Matt

    The problem is the insurers are not backing up their claims with actual statistics. They have become a code authority superceding legislated authorities. The code authorities up here have not condemened K&T, 60 amp service, aluminum or Pushmatic, but insurers have. Obsolote or saftery concern take your pick.


  38. #38
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    Latent safety issue versus immediate safety issue. And, like everything with insurance, statistics.
    MF: Very true. Until the body count gets high enough the insurance companies, CPSC, et al. remain silet on the subject.


  39. #39
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post

    You can add good information to this board, but if your skin it too thin to take comments and criticisms, then I hope you wear armor instead of leaving.
    No problem Jerry, and thank you. I have been coming to the boards long enough to know his type.
    It's not that I am thin skinned, it's that I have very little tolerance for childish comments and activity. Making fun of someone is about as childish as it get's.


  40. #40
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    No problem Jerry, and thank you. I have been coming to the boards long enough to know his type.
    Peddie Spete: You do not know me well enough to know what type I am.

    It's not that I am thin skinned, it's that I have very little tolerance for childish comments and activity. Making fun of someone is about as childish as it get's.
    SP: Which all equates to the fact that you do not have a sense of humor. Probably never had one. You'll get one here, or else.

    By the way Pete, watch out for words like "get's". There is a genuine Apostrophe Troll on this site. I am sure you'll be hearing from him soon.


  41. #41
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    By the way, all of you sparkies who are avoiding Esther's request for electrical information, please take note that we feel the pain of your lack of knowledge on the subject:

    http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_i...html#post91363

    Had it been posted in the correct place it would have been addressed more prompt.
    Not everyone goes to the new members introduction area looking for questions.


  42. #42
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by ken horak View Post
    Had it been posted in the correct place it would have been addressed more prompt.
    Not everyone goes to the new members introduction area looking for questions.
    KH: While this certainly may be the case, it also points to the myopic approach some take to this forum. Look around, there could be folks in need of your assitance who have inadvertently posted their questions in the wrong places.

    The neewbies have an excuse. The old-timers do not.


  43. #43
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    The code authorities up here have not condemened K&T, 60 amp service, aluminum or Pushmatic, but insurers have. Obsolote or saftery concern take your pick.
    Code authorities cannot condemn those as they are existing installations. Code authorities only step in when problems arise or the systems are extended ... with permits and the code authorities know about the work.

    Insurers can, and do, address ANYTHING which could cost them money, you meet their requirements or go elsewhere for insurance. You can insure ANYTHING - as long as you are willing to pay the price for it.

    Want reasonably cheap home insurance? Meet their requirements.

    Don't want to meet their requirements? Go elsewhere and pay what is asked.

    It IS a statical numbers game for insurance, and, like casinos, the numbers game is stacked in favor of the insurance company.

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

  44. #44
    Sean Murphy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Ok I have read a few of the statements about these Pushmatic or Bulldog panels. I am a licensed electrician in 3 states, was a Forman for a large electrical shop (just a hind it is the third largest in the country), and I use to teach electrical code. I was an industrial and commercial electrician that build everything from casinos to skyscrapers and I have vast experience with motor controls (For some reason knowing motor controls is like graduating from Harvard in the electrical trade…lol, not sure why, it pretty easy all circuits are either opened or closed) I am now a home inspector. Now that I have validated my expertise I will explain why all home inspectors and electricians should recommend changing these panels. The old Bulldog panels are obsolete for one BIG REASON, the ability to directly land a circuit on to the bussing hence bypassing the protection of the breaker. It is not as easy to do that on newer panels because they no longer have screw holes tapped into the bussing, someone would have to actual drill a hole and tap it. To the other electrician who said the panel is fine - would you tell people that the old style fuse boxes are ok or would you recommend upgrading to a newer system? One of the reasons why they stopped making the fuse systems was to prevent "Joe Home Owner" from bypassing the protection and replacing the fuse that keeps blowing with a higher amp fuse or a nickel (pennies use to fit some of the spaces too). I agree AFCIs do not make any panel obsolete and I personally believe that they were added to the code by the company that first started making them (Just my opinion though).


  45. #45
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Murphy View Post
    Ok I have read a few of the statements about these Pushmatic or Bulldog panels. I am a licensed electrician in 3 states, was a Forman for a large electrical shop (just a hind it is the third largest in the country), and I use to teach electrical code. I was an industrial and commercial electrician that build everything from casinos to skyscrapers and I have vast experience with motor controls (For some reason knowing motor controls is like graduating from Harvard in the electrical trade…lol, not sure why, it pretty easy all circuits are either opened or closed) I am now a home inspector. Now that I have validated my expertise I will explain why all home inspectors and electricians should recommend changing these panels. The old Bulldog panels are obsolete for one BIG REASON, the ability to directly land a circuit on to the bussing hence bypassing the protection of the breaker. It is not as easy to do that on newer panels because they no longer have screw holes tapped into the bussing, someone would have to actual drill a hole and tap it. To the other electrician who said the panel is fine - would you tell people that the old style fuse boxes are ok or would you recommend upgrading to a newer system? One of the reasons why they stopped making the fuse systems was to prevent "Joe Home Owner" from bypassing the protection and replacing the fuse that keeps blowing with a higher amp fuse or a nickel (pennies use to fit some of the spaces too). I agree AFCIs do not make any panel obsolete and I personally believe that they were added to the code by the company that first started making them (Just my opinion though).

    You cannot protect against stupid,if some one wants to connect directly to a bus bar or double lug either, they will do it. Just because it's a Pushmatic panel does not mean it is unsafe, just obsolete.


  46. #46
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    I did not say unsafe is said obsolete. However; if a breaker was missing from those type of panels some one could mistakenly land a wire on the screw sitting on the busing. That being said, it would still be dumb to do but the NEC is filled stuff trying to prevent dumb people from doing dumb things, as weel as, helping the sales of companies owned by the member of the code writing board...lol..


  47. #47
    Sean Murphy's Avatar
    Sean Murphy Guest

    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    I did not say unsafe I said obsolete. However; if a breaker was missing from those type of panels some one could mistakenly land a wire on the screw sitting on the busing. That being said, it would still be dumb to do but the NEC is filled stuff trying to prevent dumb people from doing dumb things, as weel as, helping the sales of companies owned by the member of the code writing board...lol..


  48. #48
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Interesting stuff Sean, it's always nice to hear from someone with real world experience. Your reasoning and info is really just and example of why a 50 year old panel is obselete. As an HI I don't jump up and down and demand it be replaced but I sure make my buyers aware of how much technology has improved over the last 50 years. Ultimately, it all comes down to any person't risk tolerance. They just need the tools to make that decision... that tool being us.

    Welcome to the board....


  49. #49
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    Interesting stuff Sean, it's always nice to hear from someone with real world experience. Your reasoning and info is really just and example of why a 50 year old panel is obselete. As an HI I don't jump up and down and demand it be replaced but I sure make my buyers aware of how much technology has improved over the last 50 years. Ultimately, it all comes down to any person't risk tolerance. They just need the tools to make that decision... that tool being us.

    Welcome to the board....
    I totally agree. Sometimes I think HI feel the need to "over emphasize", let’s face is none of us are experts on every aspect of home building. In fact I would argue that we HI are very good in the area we once worked (in my case electrical) and regurgitate information from other contractors or HI schools. Sometime we do not understand the problem itself we just know it is not correct. Our job is to point out defects and let the client and his or her agent deceive was they think need to be repaired before the sale is done. He is what I type about bulldog panels;

    1. The main electrical panel a bulldog pushmatic panel and is obsolete and should be replaced with a newer system. These panels have had some reports of failure; however, the bigger reason this panel is obsolete is that it lacks safety features that are now standard with newer panels. One example of a safety feature this panel lacks it that there is nothing to prevent the home owner or anyone else from landing a circuit directly on to the busing and bypassing the circuit breaker. Recommend further inspection by a licensed electrical contractor.


  50. #50
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    I really don't get some of the hostility throughout this post. You can buy a new panel for +/-$90-150. A swap out is $500-700. I fail to see what these so-called electricians are pissing about.
    Concentrating on 'the panel' is folly. I've seen plenty of older panels that looked Ok. Nonetheless it is, 30,40,50 years old. Replace it. Most of the time the panel itself isn't the real problem or liability. The wiring and DIY alterations are usually much more of a problem. If the client is going to have an E come in and fix the problems, then change the panel at the same time. If the panel is old now, what will it be when the client sells?
    From an HI perspective it is important to provide our clients with useful info so they can make decent decisions. At least around here, new home purchase often times means at least some rehab. Older boxes are typically full and don't have space for 5 more circuits.
    I did a house last week with an old pushmatic box. My report states, replace. Why? The panel was full, no open slots, inside looks like a bowl of spaghetti, had a few scorch marks. Overall looked Ok, breakers went on and off solid, box wasn't rusty.
    While I'm doing the HI, client is talking about adding this, changing that. So where is he going to tie in all those new circuits?
    I agree that some HI go over board with the replace everything, add AFCI, etc lingo. However as HI, part of what a client pays us for is to address the worst case scenario for them. An old panel comes under worst case scenario. If we don't address such concerns who will? The electricians? Apparently not the ones on this thread.

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  51. #51
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Speedy Pete is absolutly correct in this thread.
    Bob Smit, County Electrical Inspector


  52. #52
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by bob smit View Post
    Speedy Pete is absolutely correct in this thread.
    Bob Smit, County Electrical Inspector
    Agreed.

    By the way, this is my first post. I am the owner of several pushmatic panels as I have an old custom home built by an electrical engineer/electrical contractor. You can still buy replacement breakers new. That said, even though everything works just fine right now I will be updating my panels eventually but it's not high on my list of emergency's. Hopefully it will stay that way! Many older electricians agree there's no more inherent danger with bulldogs than other systems.

    This house still has Touch-plate and the full array of Nu-tone built-ins working fine too. Electricians that don't know Touch-plate condemn that system too.

    Not that it matters to this thread but I'm a California Division of State Architect Class 1 (top level) Certified Public Works Inspector. Most of my inspection is school house construction (K-12 and junior college) but I drop by here every now and then.

    This link posted by Raymond Wand is factual indeed. Good link Ray.

    Bulldog & ITE Pushmatic Circuit Breakers & Electrical Panels - Safety Advice & Field Failure Reports


  53. #53
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Off subject... have you ever used these center knob before?

    I don't remove these covers on these panels.

    just wanted info you have used these knobs?

    Best

    Ron

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images
    Last edited by Ron Bibler; 10-26-2009 at 09:01 PM.

  54. #54
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    The screw raises and lowers the whole panel guts, breakers and all.
    It compensates for panels mounted too deep in the wall. By this I mean a fraction of an inch.


  55. #55
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Imagine my utter lack of surprise, a municipal employee who posts a barely one sentence blanket statement with a spelling error that addresses pretty much nothing. That's really great backup for SPete.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  56. #56
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    Imagine my utter lack of surprise, a municipal employee who posts a barely one sentence blanket statement with a spelling error that addresses pretty much nothing. That's really great backup for SPete.
    That's OK, I corrected bob's spelling error when I quoted him


  57. #57
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    This link posted by Raymond Wand is factual indeed. Good link Ray.

    Bulldog & ITE Pushmatic Circuit Breakers & Electrical Panels - Safety Advice & Field Failure Reports
    Thanks, and I was accused of manipulating every thread I have ever posted here, and my posts where also labeled non helpful. Geeeeeezzzz

    Thanks Chris, you made my day!!!


  58. #58
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Pushmatic breakers lack the magnetic trip component that is part of current manufacture breakers. This means the breakers take longer to trip when there's a short (as opposed to an overload). So, not only is the panel design obsolete but the basic breaker design itself is as well.

    The breakers are not readily available if there isn't a STOCKING Siemens distributor close by.

    There's a place for this old stuff if you like to wax nostalgic about old electrical gear - it's hanging in your collection of antiques. Cute, unique, and oddball are hardly rational criteria for selection of something meant to protect people and equipment. Good in their day, yeah. As good as anything currently manufactured, absolutely not.

    As to Speedy, he's a pretty knowledgeable guy and doesn't need endorsements for his comments to have credibility. And, this is probably one of the few things I'd disagree with him on.

    A.D. - better ignored than acknowledged. Definitely due for a blanket party.


  59. #59
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Tanks guys.....i haave to llook at crap all day and hear all the piiissin and moannnin, talk w/irate folks on the phone 2 hrs each day and yet i some howw feel compelled to use my valuablle time when i gets home to possibly help anyone on this site who wants it.

    Perhaps I don't have all the education the rest of U have....only two (2) college degrees, six (6) years as a journeyman, fifteen (15) as a licensed master, twelve (12) as a licensed contractor, and six (6) as a state reg elect insp.......yet I still mispellll when i come home and try to get out some help to those on this site before i get yellled at by U know who.
    So shoot ME.

    As far as the 'only one line blanket statement', maybe u scoffers should look at some of the other threads i have responded to. Don't pick on Speedy or I'll throw another one out on U priima donnnaas...
    BobSmit


  60. #60
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Gosh ... shucks ... Bob, eyes ain't got know colege edumcation tat all, an' youse gotya too ofem?

    Eyes only pult wire back 50 yars ago. Dang ... ifin eyes only learnt write back den.



    Bob, not to worry, we all pick on each other from time to time, just means you've been accepted into the sandbox with them once they've kicked sand in your face.

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  61. #61
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Bill K, First thank you, and I know what you mean. Second, do you have any information or documentation on this about Pushmatics? I am genuinely interested.
    If it is as you say it will change my attitude towards these breakers/panels.


  62. #62
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Hmmm, municipal worker complains about the public who pay his salary, puffs his chest about how qualified he is and threatens retaliation for not complying with his statements AND has not stated any self-reasoned thoughts on the thread. Imagine that. They really must all go to the same training school. The attitudes are just textbook.
    Sorry, can't help myself from slamming muni employee's when given the opportunity.

    www.aic-chicago.com
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  63. #63
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    As the length and content of this thread indicates this is not a black and white issue. We are in a new era of litigation. Not only are buyer sueing HIs but sellers as well, the most reasent case i am aware of was over 1 milion and the selle won.

    I don't think that I would use obsolete on my report for this component. Becuase obsolete means: worn out and no longer in use. Not all bulldogs are worn out and many are still in use

    So my report wording is as follows:

    Many electricians agree that the type of electrical panel present has been prone to become problematic with age. Some of these have been shown to cause: failures of the panel; breakers to stick, not reset or to not trip when needed; or other serious issues. In our opinion it would be prudent to have a licensed electrician evaluate the panel(s) prior to closing. And upgrade to a panel with current safety functions.



  64. #64
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey Van Houtan View Post
    I don't think that I would use obsolete on my report for this component. Becuase obsolete means: worn out and no longer in use. Not all bulldogs are worn out and many are still in use

    "Obsolete" means "worn out and no longer in use"??

    Hmmm ... never heard that "obsolete" means "worn out", that is a new definition for it.

    Main Entry: 1ob·so·lete
    Pronunciation: \ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt, ˈäb-sə-ˌ\
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Latin obsoletus, from past participle of obsolescere to grow old, become disused, perhaps from ob- toward + solēre to be accustomed
    Date: 1579
    1 a : no longer in use or no longer useful <an obsolete word> b : of a kind or style no longer current : old-fashioned <an obsolete technology>
    2 of a plant or animal part : indistinct or imperfect as compared with a corresponding part in related organisms : vestigial

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

  65. #65
    Stacey Van Houtan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pushmatic Panels


    I like this one:
    ob⋅so⋅lete AC_FL_RunContent = 0;var interfaceflash = new LEXICOFlashObject ( "http://sp.ask.com/dictstatic/d/g/speaker.swf", "speaker", "17", "15", "", "6");interfaceflash.addParam("loop", "false");interfaceflash.addParam("quality", "high");interfaceflash.addParam("menu", "false");interfaceflash.addParam("salign", "t");interfaceflash.addParam("FlashVars", "soundUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fsp.ask.com%2Fdictstatic%2Fd ictionary%2Faudio%2Fluna%2FO00%2FO0019200.mp3&clkL ogProxyUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fdictionary.reference.com%2 Fwhatzup.html&t=a&d=d&s=di&c=a&ti=1&ai=51359&l=dir &o=0&sv=00000000&ip=46f9a786&u=audio"); interfaceflash.addParam('wmode','transparent');int erfaceflash.write(); /ˌɒbsəˈlit, ˈɒbsəˌlit/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ob-suh-leet, ob-suh-leet] Show IPA adjective, verb, -let⋅ed, -let⋅ing.


    –adjective 1.no longer in general use; fallen into disuse: an obsolete expression. 2.of a discarded or outmoded type; out of date: an obsolete battleship. 3.(of a linguistic form) no longer in use, esp., out of use for at least the past century. Compare archaic.4.effaced by wearing down or away.5.Biology. imperfectly developed or rudimentary in comparison with the corresponding character in other individuals, as of the opposite sex or of a related species.


    #4 I would paraphrase as Worn Out

    It is not a word I would choose, but I don't write your reports use it if you choose


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