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Outdated Electrical Panels

By on Aug 5, 2014 in Tips | 0 comments

One of the most common misconceptions we come across concerns older electrical breaker/fuse panels. Typically panel manufacturers state a 50 year life expectancy with maintenance for their electrical panels. Some panels are no longer manufactured such as Federal Pacific, Stab-lok, Zinsco, Magnetrip, Bulldog, Pushmatic, and several others. The misconception is “I’ve never had a breaker trip”. Ironically, the statement that would seem like a positive could prove to be disastrous. Breakers are meant to trip during a fault. A breaker or fuses main function is to sense if a circuit is utilizing to much power which could lead to wire deterioration. How is this dangerous? Wires that lose their insulation due to heat from over utilized circuits can “arc” between conductors inside of the walls. This can be the source of ignition for a house fire. Replacement breakers are still available, but are extremely costly and are constructed using the similar techniques used multiple decades ago in order to fit into the obsolete panels. New breakers can be an inferior solution for a temporary fix but does not eliminate the potential dangerous use of outdated technology. Multiple reports have been cited where a breaker meant to trip at 15 amps was pulling in excess of 25 amps. Clearly the breaker was not doing it’s job which is to protect the internal wiring from becoming a fire hazard due to overheating.

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