If you have any of these panels in your home call and licensed electrical contractor Problems Outdated Electrical Panels Present
Older homes with outdated electrical panels can’t handle the electrical needs of today’s current society. In the past, 60-amp service was considered more than enough. Today, people’s power requirements are much greater.Among a variety of older panels, there are two distinct types that electricians will recommend upgrading the most. They offer unique problems for homes. These two types of panels are fuse boxes and split-bus panels.1. Fuse boxes were the precursor to the panel box. If an over current or short circuit occurred, a fuse would pop and have to be replaced. This is where problems regularly occur. When replacing the blown fuse, especially if it routinely happened, people would:
- For example, replace a 15-amp fuse with a 20- or 30-amp fuse. That creates a massive fire hazard; the wires are not able to handle that much electricity and heat!
- Insert a coin, usually a penny, where the blown fuse once was. That possibly presents an even larger fire hazard! That fuse can never pop, no matter how much electricity surges through it. It leaves the home open to the potential for a fire risk.
2. Split-bus panels present unique challenges as well. Namely, these panels do not have a main breaker; instead, they have a smaller breaker feeding the bottom half of the panel. These smaller breakers have been known to melt or burn due to the excessive demand placed on them. Today, split-buss panels probably would not be UL listed and would not be considered a safe option.
Some Panels May Leave Homes and Homeowners at Risk
1. Zinsco Panels
However, at one time, they were extremely popular and installed in many regions throughout North America. As time has passed, electricians and home inspectors have discovered that certain Zinsco panels often can fail to operate properly and may leave homes and homeowners at risk to both fire and electrical shock. These panels can work fine for years, but as homes have increased energy demands, these panels may overheat and portions of it melt.In this situation, if a breaker melts to the bus bar of the panel and can no longer adequately trip in case of an over current or short circuit, 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.
2. Federal Pacific Electric Company (FPE)
was one of the most common manufacturers of circuit breaker panels in North America from the 1950s to the 1980s. Millions of their panels were installed in homes across the country. Yet, as the years passed, electricians and home inspectors often found Federal Pacific Electric panels failed to provide proper protection to homeowners and their families. Experts now say that FPE panels can appear to work fine for years, but after one overcurrent or short circuit, they can overheat and become fire hazards.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.