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  1. #1
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    Default Jesus watching over an FPE

    Hey, it has worked for 50 years now. The humor of this did not hit me until I was going through my pics or I would have composed the picture better.

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    If it weren't for lawyers, we would never need them.

  2. #2
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Bombardiere View Post
    Hey, it has worked for 50 years now. The humor of this did not hit me until I was going through my pics or I would have composed the picture better.
    Romex coming out the top and bottom....I can only imagine whats going on in the rest of the home. I am sure the big guy had something to do with saving those Oklahomans.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    What's needed is an electrician more than a carpenter.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Bombardiere View Post
    Hey, it has worked for 50 years now. The humor of this did not hit me until I was going through my pics or I would have composed the picture better.
    Did you open it ?
    Many do not open stab locs.

    We do not use Romex here so could you tell me why having the location on these short runs are an issue ?as your answer may demonstrate why conduit really is safer.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    I almost always open them, but this one the breakers just kept coming with the dead front as I was loosening the fasteners so I buttoned it back up, stated the obvious problems (FPE etc)and called for an electrcian. There were numerous issues all over the place anyway as usual.

    If it weren't for lawyers, we would never need them.

  6. #6
    John Steinke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    Folks here will likly recall that I, for one, do not get all that excited simply because a panel was made by FPE. This is a case on point; there's plenty going on that's far worse than the brand of panel.

    Concern #1 is the romex exiting the panel and running along the surface of the wall. This suggests three areas of concern:
    1) How does it exit the panel? It can't be through a properly bushed opening- so the cable might be damaged when the cover is replaced;
    2) Romex usually needs some manner of protection, and also needs to be attached to the wall in some manner; and,
    3) It's unlikely that romex was the original wiring method- so this stuff was likely run by an untrained person.

    Concern #2 relates to the various covers that are away from the walls. If the covers are not snug to the enclosures, there's the matter of sparks flying out and debris falling in.

    Finally, the grime on the panel might simply be dirt - or it might be a scorch mark. In either case, those breakers have been reset a few times. I'd like to learn the story behind that.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  8. #8
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    Quote Originally Posted by JB Thompson View Post
    It was posted.I believe by Neil. One or to jumped on it about condemning FPE.

    My stance it that if I see a particular style of FPE panel (I have seen em all) and it has some serious problems and then I go to the next home and see the exact same panel string me in the face I will condemn that panel and call for additional review by an electrician at the very very least. Some I will just state flat out that it needs replacing.
    There is not a particular size or shape or year FTP that I have not see a bad version of so I condemn them all. I would rather someone come behind me and give the panel a gold star or a dumpster to put it in then not condemn it and someone else pays for my ineptness. It cannot get much more simple than that. As Frank said. He was going to pull the cover but the fuses were coming with it.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    Quote Originally Posted by John Steinke View Post
    Folks here will likly recall that I, for one, do not get all that excited simply because a panel was made by FPE. This is a case on point; there's plenty going on that's far worse than the brand of panel.

    Concern #1 is the romex exiting the panel and running along the surface of the wall. This suggests three areas of concern:
    1) How does it exit the panel? It can't be through a properly bushed opening- so the cable might be damaged when the cover is replaced;
    2) Romex usually needs some manner of protection, and also needs to be attached to the wall in some manner; and,
    3) It's unlikely that romex was the original wiring method- so this stuff was likely run by an untrained person.

    Concern #2 relates to the various covers that are away from the walls. If the covers are not snug to the enclosures, there's the matter of sparks flying out and debris falling in.

    Finally, the grime on the panel might simply be dirt - or it might be a scorch mark. In either case, those breakers have been reset a few times. I'd like to learn the story behind that.
    Good answer.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Bombardiere View Post
    I almost always open them, but this one the breakers just kept coming with the dead front as I was loosening the fasteners so I buttoned it back up, stated the obvious problems (FPE etc)and called for an electrcian. There were numerous issues all over the place anyway as usual.
    That my friend is why I do not open.
    If you did not catch the breakers being loose on time it would have cost you to fix the panel not to mention the safety of you.
    I let them know the spiel and say to have an Electrician take all my liability.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    I did note the other defects mentioned, not just that it is an FPE. However, I do always put the concerns about FPE panels in my report even if they look perfect. There are insurance companies that will not insure a home with an FPE panel. You don't want your client to find out from the insurance company that they have a questionable panel and you did not even mention it.

    Do I know that they are defective? No. i have seen them trip many times when I was running the broiler and all the burners on high during my inspections. I have also seen just as many panels with scorch marks and problems from other manufacturers as I have with FPE. I can say that the design is lacking with the way the breakers connect to the bus bars and I hate pulling the covers off them.

    I wish that CPSC would just man up and say that they are defective so that we can slowly but surely get rid of them. They are stigmatized now, right or wrong, and anytime there is a fire that involves one, the home owner is going to say, i would have replaced it if I had known, even though we know that is not true most of the time.

    If it weren't for lawyers, we would never need them.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Bombardiere View Post
    I did note the other defects mentioned, not just that it is an FPE. However, I do always put the concerns about FPE panels in my report even if they look perfect. There are insurance companies that will not insure a home with an FPE panel. You don't want your client to find out from the insurance company that they have a questionable panel and you did not even mention it.

    Do I know that they are defective? No. i have seen them trip many times when I was running the broiler and all the burners on high during my inspections. I have also seen just as many panels with scorch marks and problems from other manufacturers as I have with FPE. I can say that the design is lacking with the way the breakers connect to the bus bars and I hate pulling the covers off them.

    I wish that CPSC would just man up and say that they are defective so that we can slowly but surely get rid of them. They are stigmatized now, right or wrong, and anytime there is a fire that involves one, the home owner is going to say, i would have replaced it if I had known, even though we know that is not true most of the time.
    Yes, I agree; even without other issues, you must mention this to your client. My report comment doesn't include a pass/fail remark but directs the client to get more information and I provide some links.

    Bob,
    Not sure if you meant that you don't open only FPE's, but in TX we're supposed to open panels per our SoP. Obviously, there are safety and inaccessibility exclusions based on our reasonable judgment. But the expectation is to open them.

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    Quote Originally Posted by John Steinke View Post
    Folks here will likely recall that I, for one, do not get all that excited simply because a panel was made by FPE. This is a case on point;
    John,

    I seems that you missed something in Frank's post - he WAS going to open it, but ... one of the FPE panels problems jumped up and reared its ugly head - and THAT is why he did not open it.

    (underlining and bold are mine)
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Bombardiere View Post
    I almost always open them, but this one the breakers just kept coming with the dead front as I was loosening the fasteners
    John, that is but one of the problems with FPE panels - the breakers have a tendency to jump out of the bus bars right into your face when the dead front cover is removed. When one removes the dead front cover the breakers are SUPPOSED TO stay in place.

    Now, if the breakers jump out at you, those same breakers simply CANNOT be properly plugged into the bus bar as they were designed to be, and with that poor of a connection between the breaker and the bus bar, the connection cannot be a "safe" connection as the breakers are not tightly into the bus bar.

    Zinsco, on the other hand, has the opposite problem - the breakers tend to weld themselves to the bus bars and not come out without be pried out and, in many cases, not without being broken apart and destroyed just to get the breakers off the bus bar. And when the breakers are removed from the Zinsco bus bar, one finds the bus bar arced and burned up, sometimes burned all the way through.

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

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    Quote Originally Posted by JB Thompson View Post
    Yes, I agree; even without other issues, you must mention this to your client. My report comment doesn't include a pass/fail remark but directs the client to get more information and I provide some links.

    Bob,
    Not sure if you meant that you don't open only FPE's, but in TX we're supposed to open panels per our SoP. Obviously, there are safety and inaccessibility exclusions based on our reasonable judgment. But the expectation is to open them.
    Texas is different as you have that trec form.
    Standard SOP is visual and non-evasive however you should above all keep to your regular routine and there fore notate why something is not done.
    Not sure about there but for instance there is no requirement to walk roofs yet if you do them and pass on one you should notate why you did not.
    same with electrical panels as no SOP should demand putting yourself or property at risk.
    FPE which ever side you are on do have known issues and molten metal parts flying are one of the issues that certainly should give you an out and reason to suggest a trained licensed or certified contractor do the inspection.
    I have opened them a few times but as some of you know spidey sense tells you if you should go forward especially if location has items in the way that make you a conductor.I often find these panels in junked up closets.


  15. #15
    John Steinke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    I never considered being critical as to the panel not being opened ... rather, my post was about the other issues, issues that had nothing to do with the make of the panel.

    From some of the other comments here, it appears that there is a need for a little 'primer' on opening FPE panels.

    First off, FPE differs from the usual panel in that the breakers flip "out" for "on." Everyone else has theirs flip "in" for "on." Then, the large handles project past the edge of the breaker. As a result, the panel cover WILL hang up on the breakers, unless at least one side is turned "off."

    If you snag the breaker handle with the panel cover, YOU will pull the breaker out. The breaker need not 'jump' of it's own accord - it's just doing what you told it to do.

    Finally, FPE had a fairly fancy arrangement for mounting the busbars. The intent was to allow you to adjust the breaker faces to sit snug with the front cover- that's what that center adjustment screw is for. If the screw has been completely loosened, the panel innards will float about on their springs quite a bit when the cover is removed.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    Side note....

    Just about all of the licensed states that have an SOP require the inspector to open the electrical panel in some shape form or fashion, except if it is going to be a danger to the the inspector or cause damage. It is up to the inspectors discretion.... So, if you have prior history or knowledge of an FPE or Zinsco panels being problematic and possibly dangerous then you do not have to put yourself at risk. I know of no state law or rule that requires the inspector to put themselves or the property at risk in order to follow an SOP.

    I personally no longer remove the dead front on FPE or Zinsco panels. I stopped when I had 3 breakers slide off the buss bars of a Zinsco panel back in I think 2001. The sparks and popping just about made me wet myself!

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

  17. #17
    Nolan Kienitz's Avatar
    Nolan Kienitz Guest

    Default Re: Jesus watching over an FPE

    Bob,

    The TREC 7-2 "template" is just that ... a "template" where things are noted is a reasonably orderly fashion. The template isn't the headache.

    The TREC SoP is the headache. It is the most detailed and stringent of any SoP that I am aware of from any organization or state.

    There are many, many "must do" things that most of y'all never even have to think about. Consider the water heater TPR Valve. Most everyone just looks at it ... pretty much. Our TX TREC SoP has a requirement that we "must" operate the valve unless we can provide a good reason not to. A good reason would be a TPR drain line that is "routed uphill" or if there is no drain line attached.

    It also states we are to 'walk roofs' ... and if we don't we have to provide a good reason why we didn't.

    We just noted today that the often-discussed TREC SoP "Commentary" document is again back on the TREC meeting agenda later this week. We had thought (hoped) it had gone away, but someone, somewhere has brought it back to life and put it on an agenda.

    If the commentary again gets legs and is completed it will be another huge cloud over all Texas inspectors. There has been comment that they (TREC) want to make the 'commentary' legal and just as enforceable as the SoP.

    What is absolutely scary is that in the current draft version of the commentary there are so many items that are in conflict with what the SoP actually says and the expanded verbiage of the commentary is putting more requirements on the inspection.

    I'll have to say ... it will be interesting if the commentary can gain traction and moves forward.

    Problem is the majority of the Texas TREC inspectors don't seem to even have a clue as to what is going on with our profession here.


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