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  1. #1
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Agreed.
    I think the CPSC is pretty much worthless. Worrying over insignificant specks but ignoring the elephant in the room. About the only thing I use of theirs is the old aluminum wire brochure.
    Somebody find some lead in the paint and that might get their attention.
    Of course one would have to be realistic in that they don't have any real clout if the manufacturer is out of business so spending money on a study would not result in a recall or lessening the danger to consumers.
    A local news show did a fairly decent report the other day

    Breaker Box Fire Hazard | NBC Dallas-Fort Worth

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  3. #3
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    This report is why I never say a FPE panel should be replaced. I just say in my inspection report that it should be checked by a licensed electrical contractor. Also when, as an electrician, I am asked to evaluate a panel for a buyer or seller I check for visible damage to the panel and refer them to this report. It is my position that you have to use the 'official" documentation that is available and not pass along urban horror stories as fact. yomv


  4. #4
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    This report is why I never say a FPE panel should be replaced. I just say in my inspection report that it should be checked by a licensed electrical contractor. Also when, as an electrician, I am asked to evaluate a panel for a buyer or seller I check for visible damage to the panel and refer them to this report. It is my position that you have to use the 'official" documentation that is available and not pass along urban horror stories as fact. yomv
    I disagree.
    If I was a municipal inspector, I would likely take that course but I am not.
    I am a home inspector paid to give my opinion. It is my opinion that FPE stab-loc panels are a defective product that is a fire hazard. This opinion is based on personal experience, popular opinion of respected professionals and at least one study as well as the admission of the manufacturer that the product did not meet the UL listing.
    As a home inspector I cannot force anyone to replace anything but I am free to offer my opinion.
    Here is my not to subtle comment from my report:
    The electrical panel in this home is a Federal Pacific Stab-Loc. This type of panel is known for higher incidence of failures / safety problems. It is my opinion that it is a fire hazard; REPLACE the panel. See Federal Pacific Electric FPE Stab-Lok Panel Circuit Breaker Hazard, Repairs, Electrical Panel Replacement Electricians Directory for Stab-Lok Repairs for more information. Breaker Box Fire Hazard | NBC Dallas-Fort Worth
    I would much rather risk the wrath of a seller or agent than soft sell and have a fire started on my watch. The bottom line is that the entire purpose of a fuse or breaker is to shut off the power in the event of an overload and FPE fails to do that. Independent study had said that a high percentage of never used breakers don't trip at the required overload condition and a significant number NEVER trip under more than double the rating.
    Now add the fact that all FPE equipment is 30-50 years old and you have an easy call. Replace the old unreliable equipment. Even if it were reliable, 40 year old equipment is nothing cherish.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  5. #5
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    This report is why I never say a FPE panel should be replaced. I just say in my inspection report that it should be checked by a licensed electrical contractor. Also when, as an electrician, I am asked to evaluate a panel for a buyer or seller I check for visible damage to the panel and refer them to this report. It is my position that you have to use the 'official" documentation that is available and not pass along urban horror stories as fact. yomv
    Well, I they are certainly not Urban Horror stories. They are factual horror stories. From everywhere in the country that has had them installed in their neighborhoods.By telling your clients that the panel should be checked by an electrician you must also be telling them why as in they are know to be a shock/fire hazard due to their and their breaker designs. Isn't that telling them the same thing.

    No inspector, well maybe some, tell their client "Oh my God. Do not buy this home unless the panel is changed out." They do what you do. They tell their clients that FPE has known concerns and the panel should be checked by an electrician. That is fact is passing on the Urban Horror Stories, is it not?


  6. #6
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    That is fact is passing on the Urban Horror Stories, is it not?
    I consider it helping clear up confusion so the customer can make an informed decision. Just like is done with polybutylene pipe and aluminum wiring.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    I consider it helping clear up confusion so the customer can make an informed decision.
    This "The Commission staff believes that it currently has insufficient data to accept or refute Reliance's position." clears anything up?

    Saying that they have insufficient data to accept the manufacturer's position clears something up?



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

  8. #8
    John Steinke's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Yugo: Street legal and no longer sold here. Ferrari: Street legal and still available. Though both are legal, no one would ever assert the two were equivalent. Nor would anyone have an attack of the vapors because they saw a Yugo parked in a customers' garage.

    I've often made the case here that the FPE hysteria is way overblown. Looks like there's yet ANOTHER study supporting this view.

    The problem is that, despite its' government connection, the CPSC isn't a very good source for anything but headlines. Others have made a pretty good case for their being quite vulnerable to manipulation by outside factors that have nothing to do with either safety or science.

    It's time to move on, and stop focusing on the brand of the breakers. Rather, see the age of the panel as a clue to look for improper changes to the house wiring, an inadequate service, and improper grounding. After all, even the best breajers trip in response to a fault elsewhere- start looking for those 'elsewheres.'


  9. #9
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Nor would anyone have an attack of the vapors because they saw a Yugo parked in a customers' garage.


    Would you buy your child a Ford Pinto?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Would you buy your child a Ford Pinto?...

    If it had a Hemi in it.


  11. #11

    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    I am sending the following information as an FYI. In addition to home inspections I also do some insurance inspections and I receive updates from all of the major carriers. The language below is directly from the insurance industry and outlines their position clearly.



    Federal Pacific brand panel- You have a Federal Pacific electrical panel or panels installed in your building. It has been found that some of these panels have failed to provide proper protection, as they may have a tendency to overheat and cause a fire. To reduce this exposure it is recommended that a qualified electrical contractor replace Federal Pacific brand panels with another brand that has a current UL listing and which provides improved protection and reliability.

    (or)

    Zinsco Electrical brand panel- You have Zinsco electrical panels in your building. Many Zinsco panels contain a design flaw which can cause arcing and subsequent overheating. Long term exposure to this heat can cause the breaker to fuse to the bus bar, making it impossible to remove. Even worse, it can cause the breaker's contacts to fuse together, thus preventing the breaker from tripping even in an overcurrent situation, thereby causing a potential fire hazard. To reduce this exposure a qualified electrical contractor should replace Zinsco brand panels with another brand that has a current UL listing and which provides improved protection and reliability.

    Jeff Zehnder - Home Inspector, Raleigh, NC
    http://www.jjeffzehnder.com/
    http://carolinahomeinspections.com/

  12. #12
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Zehnder View Post
    I
    It has been found that some of these panels have failed

    and

    Many Zinsco panels contain a design flaw
    .
    These comments can apply to any panel....not just FPE or Zinsco. The words "some" and "many" are wiggle words that mean we are not sure about what we are saying.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    The most important thing as HIs is to alert a buyer to the condition/controversy, etc. IMO, once we've done that we've done our job. Realistically, even that falls outside the scope of all SOPs I've read but with all the hype and bad info available it would be negligent to not at least make a buyer aware.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Would you buy your child a Ford Pinto?...

    If it had a Hemi in it.
    That would certainly solve the problem I hear most about Hemi and their Cummins diesel engines ...

    ... the only thing wrong with the Hemi is that it is bolted to a Dodge.

    ... the only thing wrong with the Cummins diesel is that it is bolted to a Dodge.



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

  15. #15
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    The most important thing as HIs is to alert a buyer to the condition/controversy, etc. IMO, once we've done that we've done our job. Realistically, even that falls outside the scope of all SOPs I've read but with all the hype and bad info available it would be negligent to not at least make a buyer aware.
    I agree 100%...


  16. #16
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    In one years time I have heard, after opening the panel, arcing and shorting and sparks popping out of the panels that were both FPE. If I can run into 2 of them in a year that are going bad (and I do mostly newer homes well newer than FPE panels so the amount of FPE I run into is relatively small) before my eyes I would be more than curious what the real number are that no one but electricians really find and no one else hears about. I would guess the number is pretty high and I constantly here of home fires...well...a few times a year or more, probably more, that involve FPE panels.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Given the experiences I've had with FPE panels it's almost inconceivable to me that any group investigating the things hasn't found numerous design issues, over and above MANUFACTURER documented breaker tripping problems. The class action lawsuit in New Jersey should be an indication there really is a problem here.

    FPE is the only panel I've ever removed a cover from and had breakers just fall out. Granted, this is a result of narrow breakers being installed in the wrong kind of slot, but the fact this can be accomplished so easily is just the tip of things wrong with a number of buss designs in the panels. Another issue is a breaker contact that is attached to the buss with a long screw and spacer. The spacer expands and contracts with varying loads and allows the screw to become "loose" which in turn causes arcing between the contact, screw, spacer, and buss, at a point where up to 4 breakers attach. The base the breakers mount on isn't solidly mounted to the housing in many of the panels and the breakers are pushed against the cover by adjustment screws. Sometimes the force these screws create by pushing the breakers against the cover is the only thing forcing contact between the breakers and the buss. I would caution anyone who is inspecting panels to think twice about even removing the covers on these panels. You may wind up creating a problem you can't fix. It would be my opinion that anything this old needs evaluating by a pro, and you can state that without removing the cover. Several of the problems aren't visible without pulling breakers anyway.

    I've arrived for service calls at more than one home where the FPE panel was literally smoking from one or more problems.

    But, the CPSC focused on 2 pole breakers not tripping and has apparently decided that they concur with the fact that a breaker that won't trip isn't a hazard ("unable at this time to link these failures to the development of a hazardous situation" in their words) - which begs the answer of why, other than a main disconnect to turn off power for repairs, the rest of the wiring isn't just terminated in a super sized split bolt. Apparently, breakers and fuses aren't necessary in their view.

    I've been in the electrical industry for around 40 years and I won't do anything to an FPE panel without a signed work order for its' replacement in my possession - including "just" removing the cover.

    YMMV - but cover your backside.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    That would certainly solve the problem I hear most about Hemi and their Cummins diesel engines ...

    ... the only thing wrong with the Hemi is that it is bolted to a Dodge.

    ... the only thing wrong with the Cummins diesel is that it is bolted to a Dodge.


    Dodges are MOPAR's, MOPAR = Majorly Over Powered And Respected.

    A Cummins beats a GM Duracrap or the lemons Ford has been using since dropping the 7.3....


  19. #19
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Quote Originally Posted by Rollie Meyers View Post
    Dodges are MOPAR's, MOPAR = Majorly Over Powered And Respected.

    A Cummins beats a ...
    Rollie,

    I was not commenting on the Cumins engine as being bad, only commenting that (added bold and underlining) "... the only thing wrong with the Cummins diesel is that it is bolted to a Dodge."

    Take the Cummins diesel, bolt it to the Allison transmission, and stick BOTH in an F-350 ... THAT would be a great setup.

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

  20. #20
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    Default Re: CPSC releases clarification of its position on FTP

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Rollie,

    I was not commenting on the Cumins engine as being bad, only commenting that (added bold and underlining) "... the only thing wrong with the Cummins diesel is that it is bolted to a Dodge."

    Take the Cummins diesel, bolt it to the Allison transmission, and stick BOTH in an F-350 ... THAT would be a great setup.

    F250 & F350 = A wannabe Dodge. (Look at the front grille).

    BTW, I have heard good things about the Allison tranny....


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