Is My Panel Safe?…Federal Pacific (FPE) Panels

Federal Pacific Panel (FPE Panel)

When you decide to purchase a home, you are making a huge investment. Not only a monetary investment but also an investment in your future and your family’s future and you want to make sure that your investment is protected.

You wouldn’t intentionally build a campfire in the middle of your living room for fear that you would burn down your investment, but could you have a fire hazard in your home and not even know it?

If your home was built between the 1950s and 1980s and has a Federal Pacific Panel also known as an FPE Panel installed, you may be a risk.

Within electrical panels there are breakers. These breakers are designed to trip if the circuit is overloaded or if something is malfunctioning. When a breaker trips, it shuts the power off to that particular circuit, thus preventing a potential fire.

Unfortunately, “Federal Pacific breakers appear not to trip every time which could result in a fire.” Inside of a Federal Pacific Panel (FPE Panel)

In 1981, the Consumer Product Safety Commission opened an investigation into FPE panels, however they closed the investigation two years later because of “insufficient information” and a recall was never issued for these panels.

While Federal Pacific has long been out of business, their panels still power many homes today and it is believed that an estimated 2,800 fires each years are directly related to Federal Pacific breakers that malfunction.

According to Is My Panel Safe? “When a breaker fails to trip, an extreme amount of power from the outside electrical supply surges into a home’s panel and circuits. Once that happens, it cannot be stopped or shut off manually. Electricity will burn until it runs out of fuel or the wires melt. The panel could overheat and catch fire, causing serious harm to a home and its occupants. Many Federal Pacific Electric panels and breakers can operate properly for years. But if and when they do malfunction, a disaster could occur.”

Next Steps

You may be wondering what your next steps should be.

First, you want to determine what type of panel you have. “A Federal Pacific panel will usually have its name or logo on the front cover. Inside, you will find the name Stab-Lok printed near the center or side of the panel. The intact breakers will have the signature red strip that runs across the front.”

If you do not have a Federal Pacific Panel, you may think your home is safe. However, there are other panels that are considered dangerous. Check back next week as we explore another panel that has defects.

If you have a Federal Pacific Panel, we recommend that you seriously consider having your panel replaced. Besides the fact that the Federal Pacific Panels pose safety hazards, parts are no longer manufactured so if something goes bad in your panel you may be without power for days or be forced to have your panel replaced in an emergency situation, which will be more expensive than if you were to schedule a panel replacement.

You should reach out to your trusted electrician today to receive an estimate on the cost to replace your panel. If you do not have a trusted electrician, we would welcome the opportunity to help you out with a panel replacement.

As a value-added service, all panel replacements performed by Lapp Electric receive a typed panel schedule…that way you know what is on each circuit if you ever need to turn off a circuit. This value-added service is also a huge resale factor should you ever decide to sell your home.

Panel Schedule