We recently posted about some dangerous electrical wiring that we have seen in houses where we have helped restore fire damage. Today we want talk more about keeping your house safe with electrical panels and breakers. Read on to learn how to find out if your home electrical panel is dangerous.
The home electrical panel is the heartbeat of your home’s power. It plays an important part of powering your lights and appliances and is the control panel board to keep your home safe from wiring and fire hazards. As the circuit breaker panel ages and more high power appliances are created, older electrical breaker box brands become less effective at handling electric loads. There are many older home electrical panel brands that can no longer keep up with today’s electrical demands and are now outlawed due to the fire and safety hazard they present. It is time to check your residential electrical panel to see if the characteristics match any of the following panels and call a residential electrician to perform a panel upgrade.
Zinsco or Zinsco-Sylvania Home Electrical Panel
The Zinsco panel is a type of panel board that was installed in the 1970s and was incredibly popular. This type of home electrical panel stopped being installed when there were design issues discovered, yet those that were already purchased at the time of the design issue continued to be installed. As time passed, extreme fire and electrical shock dangers were discovered with this panel.
You can identify this panel because it is the only electrical service panel that has thin breakers instead of thicker, push, or round ones. Another defining feature of this panel are the bright colors the breakers contain, including pink, yellow, blue, green, and red. You can learn more about this panel on US Inspect.
Federal Pacific Panel Board
Homes that were built between 1950 and 1990 commonly have a Federal Pacific circuit breaker panel with Stab-Lok breakers, as outlined in this excellent advice article from Angie’s List. After mass reports of electrical fires starting from Federal Pacific breaker panel boxes, there was investigation performed throughout the 1980s that showed one in four of the Stab-Lok breakers were defective and could not trip to prevent electrical dangers.
Federal Pacific Panel Boards with the fire issues will say Stab-Lok on the panel in between the breakers. The breakers themselves will contain red tips as well. While the company is out of business, the panels are incredibly dangerous and need to be changed immediately by a professional residential electrician.
Edison “Type” Electric Panel Box
While the Edison home electrical panel looks very cool, the panel itself is incredibly dangerous because of its high failure rate. This is one of the oldest panel box types still around because so many different manufacturers continued to produce them since their invention a century ago. The easiest way to spot if you have an Edison type panel is the fuses which will be made of glass and round. To see more examples of the Edison panel, visit the McGarry and Madsen Home Inspection blog.
Pushmatic Home Electrical Panel
The Pushmatic panel board was a widely used circuit breaker panel installed in homes built between 1950 and 1980. This is a distinctive panel because it is the only electrical panel brand that does not have switches that flip left and right. Instead, the breakers are rectangular buttons you must “push” to activate or deactivate.
While the Pushmatic panels are not a huge fire hazard, they are a very old panel that is obsolete after the company went out of business. Finding parts is expensive and difficult and adding new circuits to your home electrical panel is impossible. To learn more about the Pushmatic panel, read this blog on The Fehn Electric Co.
It is very important to upgrade your electrical service panel as soon as possible if your panel board is on this list. Each of these electrical panels has been outlawed due to the extreme fire and electrical shock risk they present. If your home electrical panel is not on this list but you want to check your panel for safety, please visit Is My Panel Safe? to see an up-to-date list of outdated panels.