Angie's List: Federal Pacific Electric Panel Risk

tiny houyse
Posted at 1:18 PM, Oct 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-04 13:18:00-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - If you live in an older home that uses a federal pacific electric panel, you and your family may be at risk. These once highly popular panels have defective circuit breakers that can spark a fire, and millions of them are still in use. 

Loose circuit breakers are just one sign of a shoddy electric panel. A master electrician and electrical engineer, Michael Inger, who learned the trade as a teenager has replaced dozens of these federal pacific panels over the years. The breakers can fail to trip if overloaded. Not always, but often – as much as 30 percent of the time.

Thousands of electrical fires occur in U.S. homes every year due to breakers that don't trip and wires that overheat, which is why Inger gives every homeowner with a federal pacific panel the same advice,

"I would recommend to replace those panels immediately so your family would be safe and you would sleep well."

Many people balk at the expense of replacing the panel, continuing to hope nothing goes wrong, but when they want to sell their home, they can't take that risk anymore.

Many companies won't insure a home with these panels and some mortgage companies won't lend on them. and if you want an electrician to change a few breakers instead of replacing the whole panel, you'll need to find someone other than Mike Inger.

If you live in an older home that has one of these panels, experts recommend having it checked by a licensed electrician. Federal pacific electric went out of business in the 1980s after a class action lawsuit that eventually determined the company committed testing fraud. Budget issues kept an investigation by the consumer product safety commission from being completed, so a national recall on the panels was never issued.