Electric panels are not supposed to cause problems. They are supposed to prevent them. There are some electric panels that have problems associated with them — Federal Pacific Electric (FPE), Zinsco, Sylvania when they bought the Zinsco brand; they are just Zinsco panels under another name.
Whenever I find such panels, I recommend that they be replaced “before close of escrow.” Some real estate agents don’t like me specifying when something should be done, but I’m trying to protect the interests of my Clients. Those three brands are latent but significant fire hazards. The last thing I want to see is two real estate agents fighting over when to replace the electric panel. I have told them when to replace it — before close of escrow. There should be no discussion now other than who wants to pay how much to replace it.
In February 2012, over in Florida, after a house burned down, investigators blamed the FPE “Stab Lok” panel. Action 9 discovered other fires and the information about the FPE Stab Lok panels, information that we home inspectors know all too well.
Sellers like to take me to task by saying, “That panel has been there for thirty years and hasn’t caused any problems.” Electirc panels in and of themselves don’t cause problems. They prevent problems, like a fire when the dishwasher shorts out. Some panels, like those mentioned, don’t prevent such problems. They fail miserably.
If you have an FPE, Zinsco, or Sylvania panel, call your electrician now and have it replaced. It’s not worth the risk of losing your home and all your possessions, valuable, and memories.
To read the complete article about the fires in Florida and the investigation by the Action 9 news team in Orlando, click Fires waiting to happen.
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