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"Federal Pacific" Breaker box



 
 
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  #1  
Old November 7th 06, 02:42 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 209
Default "Federal Pacific" Breaker box

I have a 200-amp capable "Federal pacific" breaker box in my 44 year
old home. I've been told by a home inspector that the box is
unreliable and the breakers "can occasionally no-trip and could
potentially cause a fire" This, obviously, scares me.

The breakers aren't the cheapest or super-easy to find, but I haven't
had to replace any in the year or so I've lived in this house, the unit
seems reliable. Also, the breakers have tripped a few times as the
circuits have around 8-10 receptacles on a few runs in some cases.

I'm considering doing some remodeling, including the addition of can
lights (about 20 of them) and a few receptacles...all on new runs as
the breaker box isn't much more than half full.

Should I consider replacing the service panel and breakers to a current
model like a Square D as part of this remodel? After all, it doesn't
make much sense remodel a house that's going to just burn to the ground
anyway.

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  #2  
Old November 7th 06, 02:55 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 6,380
Default "Federal Pacific" Breaker box

In article .com, " wrote:
I have a 200-amp capable "Federal pacific" breaker box in my 44 year
old home. I've been told by a home inspector that the box is
unreliable and the breakers "can occasionally no-trip and could
potentially cause a fire" This, obviously, scares me.


The inspector is right. Google on "Federal Pacific" and I'm sure you'll find
plenty of information about it.

The breakers aren't the cheapest or super-easy to find, but I haven't
had to replace any in the year or so I've lived in this house, the unit
seems reliable. Also, the breakers have tripped a few times as the
circuits have around 8-10 receptacles on a few runs in some cases.

I'm considering doing some remodeling, including the addition of can
lights (about 20 of them) and a few receptacles...all on new runs as
the breaker box isn't much more than half full.

Should I consider replacing the service panel and breakers to a current
model like a Square D as part of this remodel?


Yes, absolutely. You should more than "consider" it -- you should do it.

After all, it doesn't
make much sense remodel a house that's going to just burn to the ground
anyway.


Exactly.

--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)

It's time to throw all their damned tea in the harbor again.
  #3  
Old November 7th 06, 02:57 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 1,941
Default "Federal Pacific" Breaker box


wrote in message
oups.com...
I have a 200-amp capable "Federal pacific" breaker box in my 44 year
old home. I've been told by a home inspector that the box is
unreliable and the breakers "can occasionally no-trip and could
potentially cause a fire" This, obviously, scares me.

The breakers aren't the cheapest or super-easy to find, but I haven't
had to replace any in the year or so I've lived in this house, the unit
seems reliable. Also, the breakers have tripped a few times as the
circuits have around 8-10 receptacles on a few runs in some cases.

I'm considering doing some remodeling, including the addition of can
lights (about 20 of them) and a few receptacles...all on new runs as
the breaker box isn't much more than half full.

Should I consider replacing the service panel and breakers to a current
model like a Square D as part of this remodel? After all, it doesn't
make much sense remodel a house that's going to just burn to the ground
anyway.


I would. I have personal experience with FPE circuit breakers not tripping
from dead shorts. My brother jokes that it is possible to weld with a wire
connected to an FPE breaker.

  #5  
Old November 7th 06, 03:32 PM posted to alt.home.repair
dpb
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Posts: 1,033
Default "Federal Pacific" Breaker box


wrote:
I have a 200-amp capable "Federal pacific" breaker box in my 44 year
old home. I've been told by a home inspector that the box is
unreliable and the breakers "can occasionally no-trip and could
potentially cause a fire" This, obviously, scares me.

....

Should I consider replacing the service panel and breakers to a current
model like a Square D as part of this remodel? After all, it doesn't
make much sense remodel a house that's going to just burn to the ground
anyway.


You pretty much answered your own question, didn't you?

http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpepanel.htm

This guy is promoting himself, of course, as well, but it appears the
data referenced are real and FPE did go under after a set of legal
challenges and lawsuits. The CPSC began and closed an inconclusinve
investigation way back in '83 or so and while I've not found it
directly(but haven't looked extensively, either) there's at least an
implication that FPE may have actually falsified some data supplied
from tests supplied for UL testing and that UL "de-listed" the original
FPE breakers. The replacements from Federal Pioneer in Canada have, to
the best of my knowledge, a UL or equivalent rating, whether that is
somehow based on previous qualification or were/are newly qualified
I've also not been able to resolve unambiguously. (But, again, I've
not done extensive "research", only poked around at what I could find
on occasion as there are several FPE panels here in the house, barn,
other outbuildings dating to roughly same time frame.)

http://www.schneider-electric.ca/www...ok/html/cb.htm

Overall, it does appear is that there is at least a risk of a trip
failure from a mechanical "jam" of the handle preventing opening w/ the
older FPE breakers. Without substantiating data, there's no real way
to judge the frequency of this as compared to other breakers, which
I've not seen at any point.

My judgement would be, it's fairly inexpensive in comparison to an
overall sizable remodeling project budget, and that would also seem a
convenient time to update other things in an older home, so I'd
probably spring for it. That essentially is my plan. As in your case,
I've never had a failure to trip, and have seen no signs of any other
problems. I have replaced one breaker that showed some signs of
overheating at the connection, but that appeared to be related to a
contact condition at that point rather than anything to do with the
breaker itself. Such an incident is not particularly unuique to FPE --
a slightly loose connection can exhibit the same symptoms at any
connecting point, not just a breaker.

  #6  
Old November 7th 06, 03:48 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 6,757
Default "Federal Pacific" Breaker box

" wrote:

I have a 200-amp capable "Federal pacific" breaker box in my 44 year
old home. I've been told by a home inspector that the box is
unreliable and the breakers "can occasionally no-trip and could
potentially cause a fire" This, obviously, scares me.

The breakers aren't the cheapest or super-easy to find, but I haven't
had to replace any in the year or so I've lived in this house, the unit
seems reliable. Also, the breakers have tripped a few times as the
circuits have around 8-10 receptacles on a few runs in some cases.

I'm considering doing some remodeling, including the addition of can
lights (about 20 of them) and a few receptacles...all on new runs as
the breaker box isn't much more than half full.

Should I consider replacing the service panel and breakers to a current
model like a Square D as part of this remodel? After all, it doesn't
make much sense remodel a house that's going to just burn to the ground
anyway.


I'd strongly recommend replacing the FPE incendiary device. I replaced
the one in my house with a good Square D QO series 40 space panel and
sleep much better at night. I had heard all the bad things about FPE
before and had replacement high on my to do list anyway, but it wasn't
until I started tearing the old POS apart that I realized what a POS it
really was. As an additional note, since the FPE panels are pretty old,
replacing them may get you an insurance discount if your insurance
company charges more for 30+yr old electrical.

Pete C.
  #7  
Old November 7th 06, 04:18 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 467
Default "Federal Pacific" Breaker box

Any electrical panel with breakers that old should be considered
suspect, irregardless of brand. If you could just replace the breakers
with new ones, you would be perfectly fine. However, that's not
economically viable in your case, so replacement is probably a good
idea.

Having said all of that, I have one fo these panels, and I have
replaced many of my 1962 breakers with newer ones made in the 80's and
I am perfectly fine with the panel. I have also tested all of my
breakers and they all work fine. The single pole breakers are as good
as any others their age. The two pole FPE breakers are the ones that
are notoriously bad. And unlike almost all the other FPE bashers, I
actually have an electrical Engineering degree and actually know what
I'm talking about.

  #8  
Old November 7th 06, 04:29 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 209
Default "Federal Pacific" Breaker box

I'm glad I asked. You guys are amazing!

How much should I expect to pay to replace just the service panel and
all the breakers? (I don't do stuff that can kill me alone) Also,
what brand and size should I replace it with? It's a 200 amp now,
should I spring for a 200 this time around?

Thanks again gents!

 




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