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  1. #1
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
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    Default federal pacific stab-lok

    I was performing my first mock inspection on a friends house today when I came across the panel box. It just happened to be a fed pacific stab lok panel. I told him all about the dangers of those type of boxes and recommended he get a licensed electrician out there as well.

    Now he had his home inspected when he bought the house about 2-3 years ago or so. His inspector never mentioned anything about the box to him nor was it in the report. His inspector just happened to be his uncle too. My question is, how long has it been common knowledge that FPE boxes were dangerous? Is this a recent development and could that be why his uncle never mentioned it to him?

    BTW he also didnt mention anything to him about the attic and how the soffit vents were completely blocked with paint as well as insulation so there was little to no venting except 2 roof vents and an attic fan that was not operational. The sheathing down by the soffits was black and starting to delaminate.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Thomas View Post
    My question is, how long has it been common knowledge that FPE boxes were dangerous?
    10 to 15 years minimum.

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

  3. #3
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    ok then this is something that his inspector shouldve mentioned to him.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Thomas View Post
    I was performing my first mock inspection on a friends house today when I came across the panel box. It just happened to be a fed pacific stab lok panel. I told him all about the dangers of those type of boxes and recommended he get a licensed electrician out there as well.

    Now he had his home inspected when he bought the house about 2-3 years ago or so. His inspector never mentioned anything about the box to him nor was it in the report. His inspector just happened to be his uncle too. My question is, how long has it been common knowledge that FPE boxes were dangerous? Is this a recent development and could that be why his uncle never mentioned it to him?

    BTW he also didnt mention anything to him about the attic and how the soffit vents were completely blocked with paint as well as insulation so there was little to no venting except 2 roof vents and an attic fan that was not operational. The sheathing down by the soffits was black and starting to delaminate.
    Keep in mind that OH is a unlicensed state with no requirements on who or what can become a home inspector. Even in a licensed state that has education and testing requirements it is no guarantee that the inspector will know about FPE or Zinsco. But chances are that the inspectors in a regulated state that education and testing requirements will most likely know about those panels.

    Now with that said, even though an inspector knows about the dangers of the FPE and Zinsco panels that does not mean they will say anything about them. When folks find panels like this and they are depending on Realtors to feed them the business they tend to not say much about them. And if they do they tend to sugar coat what they say about them.

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

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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Thomas View Post
    His inspector never mentioned anything about the box to him nor was it in the report. His inspector just happened to be his uncle too.

    BTW he also didnt mention anything to him about the attic and how the soffit vents were completely blocked with paint as well as insulation so there was little to no venting except 2 roof vents and an attic fan that was not operational. The sheathing down by the soffits was black and starting to delaminate.
    Brian, your buddies' uncle needs to hang up his inspector tool belt and go find another job where he won't hurt anybody.


  6. #6
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Keep in mind that OH is a unlicensed state with no requirements on who or what can become a home inspector.

    When folks find panels like this and they are depending on Realtors to feed them the business they tend to not say much about them. And if they do they tend to sugar coat what they say about them.
    Ohio is an unlicensed state so that's possible.

    I can also understand what youre saying about the realtors. A home inspector may be afraid that drawing attention to an FPE box could blow a deal thusblowing his chance for future referrals from that realtor. I dont agree that it is the right way to go though. You guys may disagree, however that seems like too big a liability to just gloss over and not mention it.

    His inspector was his uncle and therefore was not under any obligtion to satisfy a realtor. IMO he shouldve mentioned it to him if he was aware of it.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Thomas View Post
    You guys may disagree, however that seems like too big a liability to just gloss over and not mention it.
    I think you will find that *most* (unfortunately *not all*) HIs here will agree with you.

    His inspector was his uncle and therefore was not under any obligtion to satisfy a realtor. IMO he shouldve mentioned it to him if he was aware of it.
    I think you will find that virtually all of us here will agree with that ... even those inspectors who would not otherwise write it up.

    Even in trying to be 'unbiased', you are unconsciously biased toward your own family ... unless you have had a falling out in the past, and then I doubt he would have even been asked to do the inspection.

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

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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Brian,
    .
    Sad to say but a lot of clients never read the report much less remember what might or might not have been said at the time of the Inspection.

    You will find this out sooner than later.

    Uncle could be an Electrician, disassembled the panel, told Junior to replace it ASAP as well as the other Things you may have noted.

    Junior shakes head up & down while thinking of Who he can get to help move that Sleeper Sofa. ( Seen this And The Issue Was In Writing ! ) That ole Bad Inspector.

    A couple of Years later it's " Like Nobody Told Me! ".

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Regarding the FPE panels, I was instructed that if I came across one, that was the end of the electrical inspection. Don"t even bother to take the cover off, just write it up that it needs replacement and to have an electrician see it. Apparently, some of the breakers have a tendency to pop off when you take the cover off. What do other inspectors do when confronted with a FPE panel? Do you continue with the inspection and take the covers off or not?
    David


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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Brian,
    I'm interested in knowing how your first mock inspection went, besides finding the FPE panel and ventilation problems. How did it go?


  11. #11
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Quote Originally Posted by David O'Keefe View Post
    . What do other inspectors do when confronted with a FPE panel? Do you continue with the inspection and take the covers off or not?
    David
    I actually told my friend that normally I would not even bother opening up the panel once I saw that it was a stab lok but I told him I was going to look inside anyway. Mainly because I need to see as much as I can so that I can learn as much as I can.

    Quote Originally Posted by David O'Keefe View Post
    Brian,
    I'm interested in knowing how your first mock inspection went, besides finding the FPE panel and ventilation problems. How did it go?
    It was slow going at first as I am still trying to get used to the flow of the inspection. The exterior was kind of a cluster for me because I didnt do it very efficiently. Not knowing what page certain items neeed to be reported on really slowed me down and made me look very inexperienced. The inspection improved dramatically once I got inside. The flow was much better.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Brian, I always separated out the "inspecting" from the "reporting."
    I don't know what reporting format you use, but while inspecting it is difficult (for me at least) to try to record and report data.
    I inspect and use my camera to take visual notes and then write the report after I am finished inspecting using my memory with photo's to jog the memory.
    Doing it my way has spoiled me from using inspection software that requires a PDA, etc. though since I always forget to stop inspecting and record the data.

    Good luck!

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  13. #13
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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Thomas View Post
    It was slow going at first as I am still trying to get used to the flow of the inspection. The exterior was kind of a cluster for me because I didnt do it very efficiently. Not knowing what page certain items neeed to be reported on really slowed me down and made me look very inexperienced. The inspection improved dramatically once I got inside. The flow was much better.
    I hear you. I too was all over the place during my first mock. My instructor kept telling me to stay with my check list. I'm getting better. Now, if only I can remember where I left my flashlight???


  14. #14
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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Surprisingly I was able to keep most of my tools in check yesterday.

    WHen I was performing inspections during class I must have left my flashlight and my GFCI tester behind several times. It just wasnt very efficient to go back and forth trying to find tools.

    JIM, yeah i agree that is a great way to do it and as soon as I get my flow down my hope is to be able to remember all the things I saw and still be able to record them properly later. For now, I need that checklist with me so that I dont miss anything. There were a few times yesterday where I thought I checked everything only to have t go back to that room later because I missed something that I was supposed to check.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Thomas View Post
    There were a few times yesterday where I thought I checked everything only to have t go back to that room later because I missed something that I was supposed to check.
    Brian,

    Make a check list which lists things something like this:
    Interior room - (if you want to make your notes on this make this in multiples to fill in as you are in each room)
    - receptacles for wiring and AFCI, and their location
    - smoke detector and its location
    - light fixture and its switch
    - windows for locking, operating, broken, damaged, egress size, ... (add as many things to your list as you check, I just gave a sampling)
    - etc. (add as many other things to your list as you check)

    That way, you can go into a room and check everything in that room, and know that you've checked it an not forgotten something.

    If you use your checklist as a note pad, you could do something like this:
    Interior room: master bedroom
    - receptacles for wiring and AFCI, and their location: NAFCIP (i.e, 'not AFCI protected')
    - smoke detector and its location: NSD (i.e., 'no smoke detector') or SD too close to CF (i.e, 'smoke detector too close to ceiling fan)
    - light fixture and its switch: LF ok, broken switch plate
    - windows for locking, operating, broken, damaged, egress size: not EERO (i.e., windows do not meet emergency escape and rescue opening requirements)

    You can probably fit 3-4 rooms on a single printed page. Use abbreviations you will understand: NGFCIP, NG, RP, NW, ...

    NGFCIP = not GFCI protected
    NG = not grounded
    RP = reverse polarity
    NW = not working

    You can apply a similar list to exterior items.

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

  16. #16
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    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Quote Originally Posted by David O'Keefe View Post
    Regarding the FPE panels, I was instructed that if I came across one, that was the end of the electrical inspection. Don"t even bother to take the cover off, just write it up that it needs replacement and to have an electrician see it. Apparently, some of the breakers have a tendency to pop off when you take the cover off. What do other inspectors do when confronted with a FPE panel? Do you continue with the inspection and take the covers off or not?
    David
    I no longer take the covers off. With FPE you do stand a good risk of tripping the breakers due to their handles are angled in the panel.

    Just this weekend at our ASHI chapter meeting one of our newer members was sharing that he accidentally turned off the main breaker while trying to remove the cover on an FPE. When he went to reset the breaker it would not reset! The homeowner was a little upset because "Everything was fine before" he took the cover off!

    This is a typical example of why FPE panels need to be called out. You, just can't tell if a breaker is bad or when it will fail. Now if we could only get the KY home inspector board to understand and not be a patsy to the real estate profession in that state!

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

  17. #17

    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Depending on the panel configuration, I will take the covers off and inspect. There are often double taps and cloth wire in there. The design with breaker handles spread wide in opposite directions and protruding over the opening in the dead front makes it tricky. I have killed a few circuits. I also have a comment about FP and Zinco panels having "Issues" and that it should be checked by a qualified and licensed electrical contractor and possibly replaced for safety.

    On inspection flow:
    Use a small tool belt and develop habits of putting them back. Get a holster or ring for your flashlight and put it back! My weakness it loosing circuit testers and pressure guages. I buy them in bulk. LOL
    Use a camera to record faults, water heater labels, furnace labels etc.
    Develop a good memory and a workable pattern of inspecting. Do not vary.
    I will have clients that want to follow me around and ask questions. I usually tell them that they are welcome to follow but keep the conversation to a minimum. I am not a tour guide and while chatting with them, may miss something important. They usually understand and stop following very soon. It's boring to just watch.
    I feel that consistency is the key. If you do things the same way every time, you are less likely to miss things and need to go back and look again.

    I use a TabletPC for my inspections (over 3000) I set up in the kitchen and go and do the systems first, then the interiors. I follow a set pattern sort of based on the layout in the software. Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC, Grounds, Exteriors, Foundation, & roof etc.
    I use 3-D and it has a bookmarking feature that I use to tag where pictures will go. I don't take it under or on the roof or in attic. When all that is done and entered, I do the interiors and enter as I go. Back in the kitchen, I put in all the pictures and review the report and print. Done! Next!
    The system works for me and has been developed and fine tuned over 3000+ inspections.

    Dana

    True Professionals, Inc. Property Consultant
    877-466-8504

  18. #18

    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Depending on the panel configuration, I will take the covers off and inspect. There are often double taps and cloth wire in there. The design with breaker handles spread wide in opposite directions and protruding over the opening in the dead front makes it tricky. I have killed a few circuits. I also have a comment about FP and Zinco panels having "Issues" and that it should be checked by a qualified and licensed electrical contractor and possibly replaced for safety.

    On inspection flow:
    Use a small tool belt and develop habits of putting them back. Get a holster or ring for your flashlight and put it back! My weakness it loosing circuit testers and pressure gauges. I buy them in bulk. LOL
    Use a camera to record faults, water heater labels, furnace labels etc.
    Develop a good memory and a workable pattern of inspecting. Do not vary.
    I will have clients that want to follow me around and ask questions. I usually tell them that they are welcome to follow but keep the conversation to a minimum. I am not a tour guide and while chatting with them, may miss something important. They usually understand and stop following very soon. It's boring to just watch.
    I feel that consistency is the key. If you do things the same way every time, you are less likely to miss things and need to go back and look again.

    I use a TabletPC for my inspections (over 3000) I set up in the kitchen and go and do the systems first, then the interiors. I follow a set pattern sort of based on the layout in the software. Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC, Grounds, Exteriors, Foundation, & Roof etc.
    I use 3-D and it has a bookmarking feature that I use to tag where pictures will go. I don't take it under or on the roof or in attic. When all that is done and entered, I do the interiors and enter as I go. Back in the kitchen, I put in all the pictures and review the report and print. Done! Next!
    The system works for me and has been developed and fine tuned over 3000+ inspections.

    Dana

    True Professionals, Inc. Property Consultant
    877-466-8504

  19. #19
    Randy Clayton's Avatar
    Randy Clayton Guest

    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    I will gracefully not reply..


  20. #20

    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Clayton View Post
    I will gracefully not reply..
    And your point is....

    True Professionals, Inc. Property Consultant
    877-466-8504

  21. #21
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Thomas View Post
    I was performing my first mock inspection on a friends house today when I came across the panel box. It just happened to be a fed pacific stab lok panel. I told him all about the dangers of those type of boxes and recommended he get a licensed electrician out there as well.

    Now he had his home inspected when he bought the house about 2-3 years ago or so. His inspector never mentioned anything about the box to him nor was it in the report. His inspector just happened to be his uncle too. My question is, how long has it been common knowledge that FPE boxes were dangerous? Is this a recent development and could that be why his uncle never mentioned it to him?

    BTW he also didnt mention anything to him about the attic and how the soffit vents were completely blocked with paint as well as insulation so there was little to no venting except 2 roof vents and an attic fan that was not operational. The sheathing down by the soffits was black and starting to delaminate.
    Hey Brian Just a note to pass on to you. this is just a small thing but will help you to never forget something on an inspection 1. walk the out side 2 times around. then start at the front door and stay to the right room by room until you get back to the front door. this has been my way of inspecting and it works for me very well. just a small thing.

    Best

    Ron


  22. #22
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
    Brian Thomas Guest

    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    I just talked to my friend again today about his panel box and he mentioned that he is thinking of replacing the box now with a brand new one. He is upset about having to pay $800-1000 bucks to replace it but he doesnt like the alternative option either. Which is a possble fire with 2 young kids in his house.


  23. #23
    Brian M Jones's Avatar
    Brian M Jones Guest

    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    I'm not trying to stir anything up, so please bear with me........

    In my garage, I have a 200 amp panel with Square D breakers. Anybody checking will find this was made by Federal Pioneer.
    In my house (unfinished still), I have a 200 amp FP panel with stablock breakers.
    I have had no problems with either panel. The house panel is 1 year old and the garage panel is at least 10 years old.

    When writing up FPE, Stablock are you using an age limit as part of your criteria for advising evaluation/replacement? In other words, are you looking at older panels or ALL FPE panels?


  24. #24
    Nolan Kienitz's Avatar
    Nolan Kienitz Guest

    Default Re: federal pacific stab-lok

    This is kind of special for our Canadian neighbors.

    Schneider Electric Canada - Solutions, Products and Services in Electrical Distribution and Automation and Control

    Learn something new each/every day.


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