Is Your Electrical Panel Safe?

electrical panel

Are you aware of the possible fire hazard of these panels? If you have one, be sure to read about it:

Many old-style distribution panels can be considered fire hazards, especially those with screw-in fuses. The contact points can degrade and often, oversized fuses are mistakenly installed, causing the potential for high currents on smaller grade wire. This can cause the conductor to overheat and the insulation to break down, which can be a fire hazard. In many areas, insurance companies will not renew homeowner’s insurance if the home is equipped with an electrical distribution panel that has screw-in fuses.

There are also some types of electrical panels that have been reported to fail calibration test requirements. There are several expert opinions about panels made by Federal Pacific and Zinsco. According to Douglas Hansen, Code Consultant, Expert Witness, Instructor, and Author (CodeCheck Series, “FPE Panels – Hazard or Hype?”):

Federal Pacific panels have at least five design issues that are no longer allowed by code: the gutter space, the wire bending space, spring-mounted bus, breakers that are on when down, and the split bus service equipment. These issues mean that a panel that has been sitting on the hardware store shelf for 20 years would not meet today’s code, despite the UL listing of the panel at the time it was manufactured.

We recommend that our customers who have these panels investigate the data that is available regarding the safety of these panels.

4 Replies to “Is Your Electrical Panel Safe?”

  1. It’s very informative when you said that electrical panels can be a fire hazard as oversized fuses can degrade or mistakenly installed. The electrical panel in our basement seems to start degrading. I notice wires hanging from it. I think it’s best if we hire professional electricians to fix it. It’s very risky if this is left unfix.

  2. Thanks for helping me understand that a panel must be upgraded if it is too old since it might not meet the standards of the technology today. I will share this tip with my mom since they have been living in that house ever since she was a kid. The electrical systems there might not be up-to-date anymore which can lead to short circuit and fire. This is for their safety.

  3. Thanks for pointing out that many old-style distribution panels can be considered fire hazards, especially those with screw-in fuses. My husband and I recently moved into an older house and we think that we might need to update the electrical panel since it is probably not very safe the way it is right now. I think it would be smart to call an electrician soon so to replace it so that we can prevent fires from happening and so that we can better know where everything is.

  4. Thanks for helping me understand that old distribution panels can provide high currents to small-grade wires which is why they can be fire hazards, especially when the system has screw-in fuses. I probably need a new circuit breaker panel installation in replacement of the old systems in the house of my grandparents. That property is mine now after it was passed down to me, and I plan to live there if parts and systems are replaced for my own safety because the house is quite old by now.

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