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  1. #1
    Eric Farjoo's Avatar
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    Default Old electrical Panels

    Hi guys,

    I was inspecting 58 years old house last week and the electrical panel didn't have "main disconnect switch".

    I'm looking for a good article about old panels and what we should exactly inspect when we face them?

    Thanks,
    Eric
    "Archway Home Inspections"


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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels


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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Given that there are no known recalls in Canada other than defective 15 amp breakers back in 1996 and 1997 in which case these breakers were replaced free of charge, Canada does not appear to have had the same issues as state side.

    And since I have seen quite a few of these panels over the years in Ontario, and have received no other advice from fellow inspectors, nor electrical inspectors, nor electricians the problem state side is not a problem up here.

    My suggestion is for you to have your client have an electrical inspection prior to close of title to ensure it is safe.

    Did you remove the cover plate?

    As to the other photos that is an old bell telephone type transformer, typical in older housing.


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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Is that a split buss panel?


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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post
    Is that a split buss panel?
    The label certainly makes it look that way.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Ray is correct, the Federal panels built in Toronto, Canada, have a different history than the FPE problems that occurred stateside. Also, we don't see the narrow wafer breakers here, so that problem of two prongs in one slot does not occur.

    ( I see this one is a Federal Electric, not Pacific or Pioneer. It is an old split buss piece of crap.)

    Federal Pioneer panels are probably the most common panel that I see up here. These are the newer ones, owned by Schneider Electric.

    Nevertheless, any breaker panel of that early vintage, over 40 years old and old breakers installed, should be replaced. You can say it needs to be inspected carefully by an electrician and pass it off that way, but I just say it needs to be replaced.

    Point #2, no main breaker, no matter what the brand of panel, is another reason for replacement. The service as a whole will need to be upgraded.

    Re: removing the cover. If it's an old one and the breakers flop around when you loosen the cover, tighten the screws back up and call for it to be inspected by an electrician. There are some models that have the breakers held against the covers with springs. Those are deadly panels. The newer ones are easy to inspect and the breakers are pretty snug in the bus bars as a rule.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 02-21-2012 at 12:29 PM.
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  7. #7
    Thomas Jones's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Eric,

    Dumb question, but did you check for the main disconnect at the meter? Thats what I have found around here with some of the FPE's.


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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Photo #3 is an old telephone fused primary protector. Info on these devices can be found in NEC section 800.90.




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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post
    Is that a split buss panel?
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    The label certainly makes it look that way.
    Not "clearly", at least not to me. I suspect that it is a split bus panel but the schematic is not in focus enough for me to read it to be sure.

    It certainly "looks like" it is a split bus panel.

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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Fyi
    That panel has a different schematic.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Given that there are no known recalls in Canada other than defective 15 amp breakers back in 1996 and 1997 in which case these breakers were replaced free of charge, Canada does not appear to have had the same issues as state side.

    And since I have seen quite a few of these panels over the years in Ontario, and have received no other advice from fellow inspectors, nor electrical inspectors, nor electricians the problem state side is not a problem up here.

    My suggestion is for you to have your client have an electrical inspection prior to close of title to ensure it is safe.

    Did you remove the cover plate?

    As to the other photos that is an old bell telephone type transformer, typical in older housing.

    Thank you very much everybody, especially you Ray for all these good info.

    Actually I didn't remove the cover plate due to safety concern, as much as I would like to do that. But I recommended in my report to have a certified electrician to take a look at the panel and breakers.


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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Farjoo View Post
    Hi guys,

    I was inspecting 58 years old house last week and the electrical panel didn't have "main disconnect switch".

    I'm looking for a good article about old panels and what we should exactly inspect when we face them?

    Thanks,
    Eric
    "Archway Home Inspections"
    I'd be into an article about that, too. Or even better for my purposes, a photo gallery of a bunch of panels with installation dates. I'm supposed to report when these things were installed, but don't know what to look for to date them. I've got a folder full of panel pics.

    I've seen quite a few Stab-loks around here. I don't touch them; just seeing how uneven the switches look makes me not trust the things.

    Ran across this last week. I pulled open a door next to a sink in a bathroom, and there it was.

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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Kristi Silber View Post
    I'd be into an article about that, too. Or even better for my purposes, a photo gallery of a bunch of panels with installation dates. I'm supposed to report when these things were installed, but don't know what to look for to date them. I've got a folder full of panel pics.

    I've seen quite a few Stab-loks around here. I don't touch them; just seeing how uneven the switches look makes me not trust the things.

    Ran across this last week. I pulled open a door next to a sink in a bathroom, and there it was.
    Well, at least it has an asbestos lining so it won't catch fire

    Occam's eraser: The philosophical principle that even the simplest solution is bound to have something wrong with it.

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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    OOPs, sorry , thought you were in the lower 40.
    Granted the system should more than likely be replaced, but
    Did you run the toaster?


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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Not "clearly", at least not to me. I suspect that it is a split bus panel but the schematic is not in focus enough for me to read it to be sure.

    It certainly "looks like" it is a split bus panel.
    Just terminology but I have always thought "split buss" was a panel that had a second set of buss bars to supply 120v breakers from one of the 240v breaker buss positions. This panel would look just like the diagram if the panel cover was off, one set of buss bars, one on the top half and one one the bottom. Only positions that can be 240 are right in the middle. Yes, no?

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern Heiler View Post
    Just terminology but I have always thought "split buss" was a panel that had a second set of buss bars to supply 120v breakers from one of the 240v breaker buss positions. This panel would look just like the diagram if the panel cover was off, one set of buss bars, one on the top half and one one the bottom. Only positions that can be 240 are right in the middle. Yes, no?
    The buss layout in a split buss panel is "usually" like that in most panels where the spaces alternate which line they are tied to. Typically, the top of these panels have a two pole breakers for appliances like a range, dryer, AC, and whatever else may need 240 volts, and also has the breaker for the bottom buss. There can be up to 6 two pole breakers in the top so that the 6 disconnect rule is observed.

    Many of these panels have a note on the label that limits the breakers in the disconnect (top) section to two pole breakers that gets ignored more times than not. It's not at all unusual to find 2 or 3 two pole breakers in this spot sharing the space with 6 single pole breakers

    Two pole breakers work just fine in most of the "lighting" sections (bottom buss) but don't have the ability to power larger loads due to the limitation of the often installed 40 or 50 AMP breaker that powers it.

    Occam's eraser: The philosophical principle that even the simplest solution is bound to have something wrong with it.

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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kriegh View Post
    The buss layout in a split buss panel is "usually" like that in most panels where the spaces alternate which line they are tied to. Typically, the top of these panels have a two pole breakers for appliances like a range, dryer, AC, and whatever else may need 240 volts, and also has the breaker for the bottom buss. There can be up to 6 two pole breakers in the top so that the 6 disconnect rule is observed.

    Many of these panels have a note on the label that limits the breakers in the disconnect (top) section to two pole breakers that gets ignored more times than not. It's not at all unusual to find 2 or 3 two pole breakers in this spot sharing the space with 6 single pole breakers

    Two pole breakers work just fine in most of the "lighting" sections (bottom buss) but don't have the ability to power larger loads due to the limitation of the often installed 40 or 50 AMP breaker that powers it.
    I'll take that as a "yes" .

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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern Heiler View Post
    Just terminology but I have always thought "split buss" was a panel that had a second set of buss bars to supply 120v breakers from one of the 240v breaker buss positions. This panel would look just like the diagram if the panel cover was off, one set of buss bars, one on the top half and one one the bottom. Only positions that can be 240 are right in the middle. Yes, no?
    I don't know why the photos did not load on my computer well enough to read them the other night, but tonight I can read that label (in the original post photo) fairly clearly and it is not a "split bus" panel as we are used to seeing, it is a "split phase" panel ("split phase" for lack of a better term where the phases are split to the top and the bottom) in that Phase A goes to the top bus and Phase B goes to the bottom bus. Only the center two breakers are capable of 240 volt circuits.

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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    It would be better, and easier to understand, if it was called what it is which is; single phase center tapped. It is all one phase with no voltage phase shift envloved. But we don't always call it what it is do we. (nice avitar )

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern Heiler View Post
    It would be better, and easier to understand, if it was called what it is which is; single phase center tapped.
    Except that it is not a "center tapped" panel.

    It is all one phase with no voltage phase shift envloved.
    Yep, it is not "split phase" either.

    But I could not think of a better term for it.

    How about "single phase with in-line phase buses"? As compared to the modern "single phase with parallel phase buses" we all see every day.

    (nice avitar)
    Yep, if you ain't in one of them things on top , it ain't one of their panels on the bottom.

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  22. #22
    Robert Meier's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Around here we would call that a form of split-bus panel. I haven't seen one of those in 20 years.


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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post
    Is that a split buss panel?
    Nope. Its mains lugs only (MLO) - on busses panel. (MLO) "Stab Lok".

    It neither affords primary overcurrent protection for the panel, nor affords series protection for any sub-buss(es).

    If you want to see what the "Guts" look like (with both 2-pole breaker positions filled with 1-P breakers) you can click here (clickable link):
    http://inspectapedia.com/fpe/Federal...31-DJF-JSs.jpg

    Federal Electric Products was the grand-daddy name of the company, The name was used for product produced both Newark, NJ for the US Market and Ontario, CAN, for the Canadian market. Newark's Federal Electric Products became FPE.

    That is the old stab-lok breaker design, its just as problematic.

    http://inspectapedia.com/fpe/Federal...32-DJF-JSs.jpg

    AIC ratings (not "calculated" the same as now, and not tested as they are now either) insufficient for having no "upstream" series protection.


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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern Heiler View Post
    Just terminology but I have always thought "split buss" was a panel that had a second set of buss bars to supply 120v breakers from one of the 240v breaker buss positions. This panel would look just like the diagram if the panel cover was off, one set of buss bars, one on the top half and one one the bottom. Only positions that can be 240 are right in the middle. Yes, no?
    Yes Vern, you are 100% correct.

    This is an old (orignal style) stab lok panel. It is MLO, it affords no primary overload protection for the panel or any series protection for any self-contained sub-buss(es).

    This panel has straight busses, they are one above the other, each has a mains lug upon it. You are correct as to where two 2-pole breakers are limited.

    There are no sub-busses (which in a split-buss panel are series protected), it is not a "split buss" panel.


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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Farjoo View Post
    Hi guys,

    I was inspecting 58 years old house last week and the electrical panel didn't have "main disconnect switch".

    I'm looking for a good article about old panels and what we should exactly inspect when we face them?

    Thanks,
    Eric
    "Archway Home Inspections"
    Hi Eric
    Never seen a good article on old panels and how to report them other than warnings here and there on brands such as Federal Pacific stabloc,or Zinsco.
    Some think Pushmatic Bulldog need replacing also .

    I report the three above and what I know but that is far as it goes.
    Pushmatic I only recommend upgrade because it is hard to upgrade space wise and have been told some lenders demand it.

    Maybe someone or you could do some research and write a good article on this subject .


  26. #26
    Robert Meier's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old electrical Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post

    There are no sub-busses (which in a split-buss panel are series protected), it is not a "split buss" panel.
    Do you have a place that provides a definition of what is and what isn't a split-bus panel?


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