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  1. #1
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    Default Federal Pacific fuse breakers

    Inspected home today with screw in type fuses in a Federal Pacific breaker panel. I know about the problems with the Federal Pacific breakers, but haven't herd any problems with the fuse type and how does the jumpers off the main look. What your experience with this type.

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  2. #2
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Federal Pacific fuse breakers

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Morris View Post
    Inspected home today with screw in type fuses in a Federal Pacific breaker panel. I know about the problems with the Federal Pacific breakers, but haven't herd any problems with the fuse type and how does the jumpers off the main look. What your experience with this type.
    Sam,
    From what I can see my concern would be improper use of higher amp fuses.
    *how many 30 amp lines are in the service panel compared to the number of 30 amp fuses?

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    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Federal Pacific fuse breakers

    What Billy says, looks like a lot of over fusing, which is dangerous.
    An electrician needs to repair that service panel.

    It looks like a breaker panel has been added with taps to the upper ends of the busbars. Is there a main disconnect?

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Federal Pacific fuse breakers

    IMO any fuse system is antiquated and should be replaced... and that opinion is shared by a lot of homeowner insurance companies as well.

    However..... since the problem with the FPE circuit breaker panel is the overcurrent protection I'd have to think if an FPE "fuse" panel would take a standard fuse that it's no worse than any other fuse panel out there.

    Last edited by Matt Fellman; 10-23-2012 at 11:07 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Federal Pacific fuse breakers

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    What Billy says, looks like a lot of over fusing, which is dangerous.
    An electrician needs to repair that service panel.

    It looks like a breaker panel has been added with taps to the upper ends of the busbars. Is there a main disconnect?
    Yes that is another panel and it doesn't have a main breaker.

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Federal Pacific fuse breakers

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    What Billy says, looks like a lot of over fusing, which is dangerous.
    The NEC requires retrofitting Safe-T-Fuse adapters in the Edison base screw shell fuse holders whenever overfusing is present. That is one of the very few retroactive NEC items for existing installations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    IMO any fuse system is antiquated and should be replaced... and that opinion is shared by a lot of homeowner insurance companies as well.
    That was the first thing I did - check his location ... because if he was in Florida I doubt the owner could get insurance with a fuse panel present - every insurance company in Florida that I've heard anything about requires fuse panels to be replaced with a new breaker panel before they will insure the house.

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

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Federal Pacific fuse breakers

    @Jerry,
    Yes that mentality, rules etc of insurance companies is not only in Florida. I have a customer that was told by his agent that he might not be able to get insurance unless he changed out his service to breakers. It is one of my peeves.

    Their thought seemed to be that the homes with fuses in them were X times more likely to catch fire than homes with circuit breakers.
    My issue with it is this, fuses are considered safer than breakers when used properly. In the picture shown by the OP, it seems that many were not used correctly, and are possibly twice the amperage rating of the wire connected. ( Can't really tell by the pic, but I have never seen that many 30A circuits in a residential panel.)

    I digress, The NEC actually requires fuses over circuit breakers in some instances. Why would this be the case, unless fuses were safer? Swapping out the panel for a new one with circuit breakers does not completely take away the real problem. Over stressed wiring, worn outlets, broken insulation on wiring, etc.

    Sorry Jerry, I'm not really ranting at you directly, just venting some, sorry. If you know differently, I am all ears.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Federal Pacific fuse breakers

    Quote Originally Posted by J. Renner View Post
    @Jerry,
    Yes that mentality, rules etc of insurance companies is not only in Florida. I have a customer that was told by his agent that he might not be able to get insurance unless he changed out his service to breakers. It is one of my peeves.

    Their thought seemed to be that the homes with fuses in them were X times more likely to catch fire than homes with circuit breakers.
    My issue with it is this, fuses are considered safer than breakers when used properly. In the picture shown by the OP, it seems that many were not used correctly, and are possibly twice the amperage rating of the wire connected. ( Can't really tell by the pic, but I have never seen that many 30A circuits in a residential panel.)

    I digress, The NEC actually requires fuses over circuit breakers in some instances. Why would this be the case, unless fuses were safer? Swapping out the panel for a new one with circuit breakers does not completely take away the real problem. Over stressed wiring, worn outlets, broken insulation on wiring, etc.

    Sorry Jerry, I'm not really ranting at you directly, just venting some, sorry. If you know differently, I am all ears.
    You raise a good ... but invalid ... point ...

    The reason your point is good is because it is correct - to a point, and that point makes it invalid and is the reason why more homes with fuses do catch fire than homes with breakers and is the reason insurance companies prefer breakers ... it is VERY easy to tamper with the Edison base screw-in fuses, and just as easy to tamper with the Saf-T-Fuses which were intended to prevent the tampering common with the screw-in Edison base fuses.

    Breakers are difficult to tamper with. Yes, like fuses, breakers can be replaced with a larger size breaker, but then the homeowner could tap off the service drip, by-pass the meter, and by-pass the breakers, and run everything unfused - *however* - the likelihood of that happening is far less than the likelihood of tampering with fuses.

    Keep in mind that fuses (the screw in type) are typically found in older homes with limited wiring and circuits, leaving the owner of the now much more power hungry house to tamper with the fuses to keep them from blowing all the time.

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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Upstate N.Y.
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    116

    Default Re: Federal Pacific fuse breakers

    It continues to annoy me that an insurance company, without any investigation or inspection of any kind, can summarily declare their refusal to insure a property with a fuse panel, thereby compelling a homeowner to replace such with circuit breakers.
    As an AHJ, I do not have that authority.
    I’m not complaining that I don’t, it’s more of a complaint that they do.
    As was elucidated previously, the replacement of a fuse panel does not necessarily ensure that electrical wiring to the premises is rendered inherently safe or even safer by such.
    Why not go a step further and compel owners of such properties to update the branch circuitry as well?
    Yes, I know that sounds preposterous but so does the practice of forcing owners to replace what could be a perfectly functional fuse panel.
    I inspect numerous properties in upscale sections of my city that are protected by custom manufactured fuse panels of significant size that are functioning in the capacity that they were intended without problems.
    Of course, if such a circumstance is evaluated by an electrician let’s say, and determined to be unsafe for any number of reasons we could enumerate, then of course replacement should be necessary.
    Merely replacing the fuse panel as a matter of routine does not address many other significant factors that could be present in a property protected by an updated service.
    Many of the properties I inspect subsequent to the compulsory replacement of the fuse panel with a circuit breaker panel continue to possess inadequate branch circuitry to accommodate the increased requirements of a modern household, however; the owners, having paid for such a replacement, are now deceived into believing that they now reside in an electrically safer property which in many instances is simply not true.
    In fact, more often than not, the circuit breakers, functioning in the capacity that they are intended, will constantly trip due to overloading that the branch circuit wiring initially imposed upon the fuse panel.
    And when that happens, Joe Homeowner that just spent a significant amount of money to “upgrade” his service, either blames the contractor for such or merely does what fuse panel owners do……puts in a larger circuit breaker. Problem solved right? (I get the calls about this frequently)
    And if the electrical contractor attempts to point out that reality, they are often accused of trying to up sell more work.
    And the electrical inspector is powerless to make such a determination as well.
    Replace fuse panels as necessary, not as a routine.
    And when replacing such, upgrade the branch circuit wiring to bring the premises into the 21st century.
    BTW, the pictures provided DO suggest that the panel is overloaded, over-fused and requires investigation by an electrician.



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