Safe replacement breaker fo Federal Pacific panel?

NewSilver

Member
I have a customer with a Federal Pacific panel and they simply don't have the money to hire me to replace the panel. Are there any safe replacement breakers for this situation?
 

petersonra

Senior Member
I have a customer with a Federal Pacific panel and they simply don't have the money to hire me to replace the panel. Are there any safe replacement breakers for this situation?
You need to decide if you want to get involved in trying to save them money while potentially taking on a lot of liability for not just fixing it the right way, which would be a complete replacement.

in any case, unless your plan is only to replace one or two breakers it will likely not be especially cost effective to replace them all when you can buy a replacement square D QO panel with 20 breakers for < $300.
 

twm22

Member
I have a customer with a Federal Pacific panel and they simply don't have the money to hire me to replace the panel. Are there any safe replacement breakers for this situation?
In addition to the comments above, there is also data that shows that the bus itself has possibly sustained heat- and scoring-damage, so replacing only the breakers is not recommended. Forgive me for not having the reference at my fingertips, but it's out there.
 

ActionDave

Moderator
Staff member
I have a customer with a Federal Pacific panel and they simply don't have the money to hire me to replace the panel. Are there any safe replacement breakers for this situation?
Who is asking for the replacement and why? If the customer is not having any problems leave it alone till the time is right for him or her.
 

jeff48356

Senior Member
Who is asking for the replacement and why? If the customer is not having any problems leave it alone till the time is right for him or her.
That's at least half the problem right there. Customers never appear to be having problems if they never trip breakers. But how do they know it's not because the breakers are simply not tripping when they're supposed to, and they're unknowingly drawing more amps than their circuits are rated for?
 

ActionDave

Moderator
Staff member
That's at least half the problem right there. Customers never appear to be having problems if they never trip breakers. But how do they know it's not because the breakers are simply not tripping when they're supposed to, and they're unknowingly drawing more amps than their circuits are rated for?
Because the failure rate of FPE breakers is not any greater than any other brand installed of the same age.
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
Because the failure rate of FPE breakers is not any greater than any other brand installed of the same age.
I make a bunch of money from foolish home inspectors that have no experience in building or electrical. They read a book and think they know everything, and because they have some persuasion over homebuyers, they feel all powerful...

They always write up the FPE panels to change out on home inspections. I try to tell the homeowners the breakers work, even go as far as to show them. I had one that already had every breaker replaced to the new ones. The home inspector wrote it up as unsafe. When I asked him to back up his statements, he pointed to a home inspection book.

I just give up and up and take their money...
 

rcarroll

Senior Member
Who is asking for the replacement and why? If the customer is not having any problems leave it alone till the time is right for him or her.
I've inspected several FPE & Zinsco panel changes where the EC told me the H/O's insurance told them they won't pay for any problems with FPE or Zinsco.
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
I've inspected several FPE & Zinsco panel changes where the EC told me the H/O's insurance told them they won't pay for any problems with FPE or Zinsco.
I don’t doubt that. I’ve only had one say the insurance company was involved..

I’ve changed out more panels with aluminum bus from other manufacturers though..
I would be more worried about that.
just sayin...
 

curt swartz

Senior Member
Because the failure rate of FPE breakers is not any greater than any other brand installed of the same age.
Yup! As I have stated in the past on this forum. There are several large breaker shops in my area. They sell a large number of older/discontinued small breakers for all the business and homes that have Zinsco/FPE/XO/etc. They test all breakers prior to sale. I have asked many times over the years about the failure rate of FPE Stab-Lok breakers. The response is always, the FPE's have a higher pass rate than most of the other brands similar age breakers.

FPE had a bad run of some breakers and the company lost it listing over it. Think about the quality control and possible unauthorized factory modifications today with all the stuff that is being manufacture in Mexico, China, etc. including circuit breakers and GFCI's
 

twm22

Member
Because the failure rate of FPE breakers is not any greater than any other brand installed of the same age.
Because the failure rate of FPE breakers is not any greater than any other brand installed of the same age. [/QUOTE]

I respectfully disagree with Curt's comment as well as some of the comments that followed. I am in the insurance industry, and the concern with the Stab-loks originated from actual fires, a 2011 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) notice (83-008), and the independent research at http://www.fpe-info.org/Hazardous FPE 171110.pdf. which was updated in 2017.

The CPSC stated explicitly that they had concern about the Stab-Loks' non-compliance with the UL standard ((1983, re-emphasized in 2011), but could not base their concerns on any data because there weren't' funds available within the CPSC to do the research necessary to check the anecdotal evidence. The CPSC subsequently closed their file despite the fact that FPE had filed fraudulent UL reports and that UL, EXXON, and numerous other principals to the suit advised fraudulent activity.

There have been numerous comments citing tests that show acceptable Stab-Lok performance. I would like to see this data. I do not argue with the fact that the frequency of actual fire/loss is low, but that is true for all circuit breakers in the history of circuit beakers. What is known is that there have been fires related to Stab-Loks, and there have been observed conditions of welded contacts, which were fortunate observations in that the need for tripping had not occurred. .

Forgive my informal tone, but I'm hearing a bit of, "It never happened to me so it will never happen."
[h=2]FPE Stab-Lok® Calibration Test Report - Failure Rate Summary[/h]
CPSC-C-81-1429 December 30, 1982
Final Report: Contract CPSC-C-81-1429
Date: December 30, 1982
Submitted by: Jesse Aronstein (original contains signature)
WRIGHTVM MALTA CORPORATION. Malta test station, Ballston Spa, New York 12020 518-899-2227 [h=3]1.0 SUMMARY[/h]
Calibration tests have been performed on 122 two-pole Federal Pacific Electric circuit breakers. The calibration tests were performed -in accordance with UL Standard 489 except for or a difference in the sequence of calibrations. UL 489 is the applicable standard that the breakers are presumed to meet. In most cases, the calibration tests were repeated after 500 off-on mechanical operations of the toggle handle..

The circuit breakers tested were supplied by CPSC and came from several sources. Most were provided to CPSC by Federal Pacific Electric, some were purchased new by CPSC staff members at retail outlets, and a few were removed from existing installations. The breaker ratings tested were 30 A (30 two-pole breakers tested), 40A (35), 50A(20), 60A(7) and 80A (30). The tests include performance at 100%, 135%, and 200% of ratings, and dielectric tests.

A substantial number of breakers failed the calibrations testing, both before and after the mechanical toggle operations. Failures were evident with both poles carrying current as well as with one-pole operation. Specifically, the failures are summarized as follows:
FAILURE CONDITIONFAILURES
% (#failed / #tested)
Before Mechanical OperationsAfter Mechanical Operations
No-trip: 200% of rating, both poles0% (0/122)1% (1/107)
No-trip: 200% of rating, individual poles1% (3/244)10% (21/214)
No-trip: 135% of rating, both poles*25% (31/122)36% (39/107)
No-trip: 135% of rating, individual poles51% (125/244)65% (144/220)
Trip: 100% of rating, both poles*3% (4/122)6% (7/111)
Dielectric Breakdown (short)*01% (1/111)
TABLE 1 - SUMMARY OF FAILURES

*UL 489 Test Conditions

The failures appeared. among breakers of all ratings, none were failure-free. Most of the "no-trip' conditions were sustained for four hours well beyond the UL specification. These were not marginal failures with respect to the failure criteria. The data suggests that, on the average, the mechanical operations result in increased failures. This was .'not strictly the case on a sample-to-sample basis.

The failures relate to hazardous conditions in at least two ways. First, a fault in the wiring or utilization equipment which causes excessive- current-can result in fire if the circuit is not opened by the breaker -- this is its principal functional requirement.

Secondly, it was determined in these tests that some of the breakers overheat to hazardous levels when subjected to overcurrent conditions (due to their own failure to trip) for sustained periods of time.

The overheating can result in incapacitation of the breaker (i.e.: it will no longer open under any condition), and the temperature can be high enough to ignite fire in the vicinity of the breaker, as evidenced by charring of the case on some samples.
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
https://www.cpsc.gov/search?site=cps...ry=Siemens+ite

let’s just change them all out...

all the data is in for the stablocs.
Anyone got failure rate data for the other breakers?
Sure, FPE got caught with their hand in the cookie jar so to speak. Yes, punishment came swift by the company acquiring them.
but... how many other breaker types fail that insurance company and home inspectors fail to recognize?

will the insurance company stop insuring panels with aluminum bus? Bulldog or challenger breakers?
Pushmatics??SquareD?
 

ActionDave

Moderator
Staff member
I respectfully disagree with Curt's comment as well as some of the comments that followed. I am in the insurance industry, and the concern with the Stab-loks originated from actual fires, a 2011 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) notice (83-008), and the independent research at http://www.fpe-info.org/Hazardous FPE 171110.pdf. which was updated in 2017.

The CPSC stated explicitly that they had concern about the Stab-Loks' non-compliance with the UL standard ((1983, re-emphasized in 2011), but could not base their concerns on any data because there weren't' funds available within the CPSC to do the research necessary to check the anecdotal evidence. The CPSC subsequently closed their file despite the fact that FPE had filed fraudulent UL reports and that UL, EXXON, and numerous other principals to the suit advised fraudulent activity.

There have been numerous comments citing tests that show acceptable Stab-Lok performance. I would like to see this data. I do not argue with the fact that the frequency of actual fire/loss is low, but that is true for all circuit breakers in the history of circuit beakers. What is known is that there have been fires related to Stab-Loks, and there have been observed conditions of welded contacts, which were fortunate observations in that the need for tripping had not occurred. .

Forgive my informal tone, but I'm hearing a bit of, "It never happened to me so it will never happen."
FPE Stab-Lok® Calibration Test Report - Failure Rate Summary


CPSC-C-81-1429 December 30, 1982
Final Report: Contract CPSC-C-81-1429
Date: December 30, 1982
Submitted by: Jesse Aronstein (original contains signature)
WRIGHTVM MALTA CORPORATION. Malta test station, Ballston Spa, New York 12020 518-899-2227 1.0 SUMMARY


Calibration tests have been performed on 122 two-pole Federal Pacific Electric circuit breakers. The calibration tests were performed -in accordance with UL Standard 489 except for or a difference in the sequence of calibrations. UL 489 is the applicable standard that the breakers are presumed to meet. In most cases, the calibration tests were repeated after 500 off-on mechanical operations of the toggle handle..

The circuit breakers tested were supplied by CPSC and came from several sources. Most were provided to CPSC by Federal Pacific Electric, some were purchased new by CPSC staff members at retail outlets, and a few were removed from existing installations. The breaker ratings tested were 30 A (30 two-pole breakers tested), 40A (35), 50A(20), 60A(7) and 80A (30). The tests include performance at 100%, 135%, and 200% of ratings, and dielectric tests.

A substantial number of breakers failed the calibrations testing, both before and after the mechanical toggle operations. Failures were evident with both poles carrying current as well as with one-pole operation. Specifically, the failures are summarized as follows:
FAILURE CONDITIONFAILURES
% (#failed / #tested)
Before Mechanical OperationsAfter Mechanical Operations
No-trip: 200% of rating, both poles0% (0/122)1% (1/107)
No-trip: 200% of rating, individual poles1% (3/244)10% (21/214)
No-trip: 135% of rating, both poles*25% (31/122)36% (39/107)
No-trip: 135% of rating, individual poles51% (125/244)65% (144/220)
Trip: 100% of rating, both poles*3% (4/122)6% (7/111)
Dielectric Breakdown (short)*01% (1/111)
TABLE 1 - SUMMARY OF FAILURES

*UL 489 Test Conditions
The failures appeared. among breakers of all ratings, none were failure-free. Most of the "no-trip' conditions were sustained for four hours well beyond the UL specification. These were not marginal failures with respect to the failure criteria. The data suggests that, on the average, the mechanical operations result in increased failures. This was .'not strictly the case on a sample-to-sample basis.

The failures relate to hazardous conditions in at least two ways. First, a fault in the wiring or utilization equipment which causes excessive- current-can result in fire if the circuit is not opened by the breaker -- this is its principal functional requirement.

Secondly, it was determined in these tests that some of the breakers overheat to hazardous levels when subjected to overcurrent conditions (due to their own failure to trip) for sustained periods of time.

The overheating can result in incapacitation of the breaker (i.e.: it will no longer open under any condition), and the temperature can be high enough to ignite fire in the vicinity of the breaker, as evidenced by charring of the case on some samples.
You don't have anything that compares failures of other breakers of the same vintage. On top of that all you really got is a whole lot of stuff that says not very much about actual fires in houses.
 

twm22

Member
https://www.cpsc.gov/search?site=cps...ry=Siemens+ite

let’s just change them all out...

all the data is in for the stablocs.
Anyone got failure rate data for the other breakers?
Sure, FPE got caught with their hand in the cookie jar so to speak. Yes, punishment came swift by the company acquiring them.
but... how many other breaker types fail that insurance company and home inspectors fail to recognize?

will the insurance company stop insuring panels with aluminum bus? Bulldog or challenger breakers?
Pushmatics??SquareD?
Aluminum bus and wiring on branch circuits is pretty much excluded by insurance companies. Zinsco, FPE Stabloks, and some others are also watched closely.
 

twm22

Member
You don't have anything that compares failures of other breakers of the same vintage. On top of that all you really got is a whole lot of stuff that says not very much about actual fires in houses.
I'm not sure what you mean about failures in other breakers of the same vintage. The problem with Stabloks is that they don't meet the UL standard, and then when studied, they proved to be associated with fires. No other "same vintage" breakers raised the same controversy when introduced, that controversy being they failed UL testing. Unless I'm misreading you, you're saying that the industry should study those breakers that were made to UL standards and the fires they caused to prove that their failure rates are better than Stabloks with known lab failure rates. .

You then go on to say that the data I posted doesn't apply to house fires, but you're not posting any evidence of other breakers that have or haven't caused house fires. Stabloks have been involved in house fires and the data is out there. I didn't post it because it is voluminous. You're asking researchers to investigate breakers that have not been implicated in fires to justify the use of Stabloks.

The basic best practice recommendation related to Stabloks is that they should be removed because they have a higher rate of laboratory failure. The lab analyesis was conducted in response to house fires. Stabloks have always been suspect because of the scandal involved in their rollout. There is very little downside to recommending their replacement, at $1000 for a single panel and much less for bulk rates.
 

jim dungar

Moderator
Staff member
The problem with Stabloks is that they don't meet the UL standard,
According to your post, it is the FPE 2-Pole breakers that don't meet the 1982 UL Standard, particularly at 135% rating. But it appears at 200% the failure rate is much lower.
Were any earlier breakers tested, like those manufactured earlier than 1982?

Do you have data on the performance of 1-Pole breakers, or are they condemned simply by association?
 

zog

Senior Member
According to your post, it is the FPE 2-Pole breakers that don't meet the 1982 UL Standard, particularly at 135% rating. But it appears at 200% the failure rate is much lower.
Were any earlier breakers tested, like those manufactured earlier than 1982?

Do you have data on the performance of 1-Pole breakers, or are they condemned simply by association?
I see 15kV load break switches condemned just because they say federal pacific. The amount of fake news on the internet about Federal Pacific amazes me, if the company still existed the legal team would be all over these guys.
 

ramsy

Senior Member
..I am in the insurance industry, and the concern with the Stab-loks originated from actual fires, a 2011 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) notice (83-008), and the independent research at http://www.fpe-info.org/Hazardous FPE 171110.pdf. which was updated in 2017..
Thank you for posting.

Pg.12 of report shows both 1 & 2-Pole UL listed UBI (Connecticut Electric) failing at higher rate than original FPE.

Pg. 23 of report, "The findings so far demonstrate that the brand new UBI breakers and used UBI breakers from homes (Sections 3.B and 3.C) have a higher failure rate than the FPE that they are intended to replace."

Is anything available to show FPE or other equipment not recalled is excluded from an Insurance carrier policy?

Since the report doesn't mention insurance, and there is no recall in effect, do you have access to any insurance policy documents?

One of our moderators recently posted a link to NC Department of Insurance interpretation of electrical codes.

This document was remarkable in recognizing GFCI protection for un-grounded outlets, since the 2011 NFPA-70 §406.4(D)(2).
Our Municipal inspectors in California refuse to let GFCI's replace grounding wires, albeit adopted at our state level.
Unfortunately, this insurance interpretation below makes no mention of FPE, or other equipment either.

NC of Department of Insurance Interpretation.pdf
Office of the State Fire Marshal - Engineering Division
1202 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1202
919-647-0001
 

twm22

Member
I see 15kV load break switches condemned just because they say federal pacific. The amount of fake news on the internet about Federal Pacific amazes me, if the company still existed the legal team would be all over these guys.
This argument - about the breakers that suffer because of it has an FPE label - doesn't take away from the fact that there is a specific, proven scandal. It is not fake news. I'm not sure why many professionals are defending FPE. Their behavior was unprofessional in this case. Anyone who recommends against any of their other products is wrong,, but it is not only wrong but dangerous to say that the Stabloks in question are fine. They are not and should be replaced. If one disagrees with the data, it is on them to prove otherwise.
 

twm22

Member
Thank you for posting.

Pg.12 of report shows both 1 & 2-Pole UL listed UBI (Connecticut Electric) failing at higher rate than original FPE.

Pg. 23 of report, "The findings so far demonstrate that the brand new UBI breakers and used UBI breakers from homes (Sections 3.B and 3.C) have a higher failure rate than the FPE that they are intended to replace."

Is anything available to show FPE or other equipment not recalled is excluded from an Insurance carrier policy?

Since the report doesn't mention insurance, and there is no recall in effect, do you have access to any insurance policy documents?

One of our moderators recently posted a link to NC Department of Insurance interpretation of electrical codes.

This document was remarkable in recognizing GFCI protection for un-grounded outlets, since the 2011 NFPA-70 §406.4(D)(2).
Our Municipal inspectors in California refuse to let GFCI's replace grounding wires, albeit adopted at our state level.
Unfortunately, this insurance interpretation below makes no mention of FPE, or other equipment either.

NC of Department of Insurance Interpretation.pdf
Office of the State Fire Marshal - Engineering Division
1202 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1202
919-647-0001
The exclusion of Stabloks won't be in the policy itself but on a declarations page or other document that, in effect, becomes a legal part of the policy. Insurance companies differ on the types of breakers they'll exclude (FPE, Zinsco, Sylvania, some others, or none, which is the most common case - I would say that more than 90% of property insurance policies in the US have no exclusion for circuit breakers). So it's an individual company's decision. Insurance companies exclude coverages at their peril. If they quote a policy with a breaker exclusion, company B might come along and quote the policy with no exclusions.
 

ramsy

Senior Member
The exclusion of Stabloks won't be in the policy itself but on a declarations page or other document that, in effect, becomes a legal part of the policy. Insurance companies differ on the types of breakers they'll exclude (FPE, Zinsco, Sylvania, some others, or none, which is the most common case - I would say that more than 90% of property insurance policies in the US have no exclusion for circuit breakers). So it's an individual company's decision. Insurance companies exclude coverages at their peril. If they quote a policy with a breaker exclusion, company B might come along and quote the policy with no exclusions.
Thank you.

I see "Limits of liability" are included in a Insurance Declarations page.

Can "Limits of liability", or other insurance-policy language declare claims void if violating adopted Fire / Safety codes, such as NFPA-70/70E, or NRTL product standards, Licensing laws, Building permits, or used to deny claims for injury / casualty of helpers missing required Workman's Comp. insurance?

Pg.1 of your report states, "Almost half of the UBI Stab-Lok® type breakers tested to date, including brand new samples, failed to meet the UL489 safety standard performance requirements."

Can the reported UL 489 testing standard failures, of UBI / FPE equipment, void insurance policy, since UL is an adopted NRTL product standard, or "testing laboratory" identified by NFPA-70 §90.7 ?

§90.7 notes point to testing standards listed in "Informative Annex A"
Molded-Case Circuit Breakers, Molded-Case Switches, and Circuit-Breaker Enclosures - UL 489

Do property insurance carriers rely on Home Inspector reports to complain about old fuse boxes, or do they prefer Title Company reports, or in-house Insurance inspectors?
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
Do property insurance carriers rely on Home Inspector reports to complain about old fuse boxes, or do they prefer Title Company reports, or in-house Insurance inspectors?
i seriously hope no one takes a home inspectors word as gospel...

I don’t know how it is in other areas, but around here, most home inspectors are ones that took a couple of classes on home inspection offered by the local community college, they have NO experience, take a simple home inspectors test offered by the state, and then want to inspect homes Like they are all knowing.
The other ones that don’t fit in this category are failed GCs...
I have seen them remove the panel cover and immediately start pointing at a SquareD breaker with two wires on it.
yes, they were on both sides of the screw..

another one recommended replacing all the can lights lights because they weren’t rated for insulation contact. He never looked, just wrote it up because he was the “all powerful and knowing home inspector”

When I removed the bulb to show the homeowner the IC rating, the homeowner wanted to argue they need to be replaced because the home inspector said so...
I told them they need to demand a refund after I had to show them the ratings and what they meant on the internet. I wasn’t crawling in that attic in the summer for it..

Anyone had to inspect a switch because it was “warm”
don't all dimmers get “warm”...
 

twm22

Member
Thank you.

I see "Limits of liability" are included in a Insurance Declarations page.

Can "Limits of liability", or other insurance-policy language declare claims void if violating adopted Fire / Safety codes, such as NFPA-70/70E, or NRTL product standards, Licensing laws, Building permits, or used to deny claims for injury / casualty of helpers missing required Workman's Comp. insurance?

Pg.1 of your report states, "Almost half of the UBI Stab-Lok® type breakers tested to date, including brand new samples, failed to meet the UL489 safety standard performance requirements."

Can the reported UL 489 testing standard failures, of UBI / FPE equipment, void insurance policy, since UL is an adopted NRTL product standard, or "testing laboratory" identified by NFPA-70 §90.7 ?

§90.7 notes point to testing standards listed in "Informative Annex A"
Molded-Case Circuit Breakers, Molded-Case Switches, and Circuit-Breaker Enclosures - UL 489

Do property insurance carriers rely on Home Inspector reports to complain about old fuse boxes, or do they prefer Title Company reports, or in-house Insurance inspectors?
On your first point, it would be extremely rare for an insurance carrier to have any legal right to deny coverage for anything related to non-adherence to code, unless a requirement for such adherence is included, explicitly, in the policy or its incorporated documents. For smaller policies, such as home/condo-owners and small businesses, my estimate is that 98% of greater of the policies have direct, explicit to code language of any type. I'm thinking primarily in the property realm. The discussion elated to workers comp and other types of insurance are similar, however, in that if the policy doesn't make direct reference to a code, there is very little chance that a claim can be denied.

In your more specific example about the Stab-Lok's: when a insurance policy states explicitly that Stab-lok's are not permitted, what that usually means is that any fire caused by the Stab-Loks is not covered. All other parts of the policy remain the same. For example, if you had a kitchen grease fire, you'd still be covered. But if the insurance company did not exclude the Stab-Loks explicitly, you'll have coverage for fires related to their poor performance, should it occur.

So to summarize, for small business and homeowner policies, coverage is broad and unless stated explicitly, without many exclusions.

Insurance policy complexity grows with the size and sophistication of the business. Most insurance policies written for middle-sized businesses and above have more exclusions and enhancements.

Small real estate transactions rely on home inspectors, but insurance inspections tend to be done by a different type of inspector who has a slightly different focus. Some of these folks will do both, but home inspectors tend to work independently on the realtor's or buyer's/seller's/bank's behalf, while insurance inspectors work on behalf of the insurance carrier (the underwriter).
 

zog

Senior Member
This argument - about the breakers that suffer because of it has an FPE label - doesn't take away from the fact that there is a specific, proven scandal. It is not fake news. I'm not sure why many professionals are defending FPE. Their behavior was unprofessional in this case. Anyone who recommends against any of their other products is wrong,, but it is not only wrong but dangerous to say that the Stabloks in question are fine. They are not and should be replaced. If one disagrees with the data, it is on them to prove otherwise.
Yes they skipped on the UL testing of certain stab lok breakers in 1979 during their bankruptcy and subsequent acquisitions by UV industries and Reliance electric. Has absolutely nothing to do with any other FPE product line or any stab lok breakers made before or after that period of time.
 

Jraef

Moderator
Staff member
...FPE had filed fraudulent UL reports and that UL, EXXON, and numerous other principals to the suit advised fraudulent activity
THIS by the way is why FPE went out of business, not just because they had some bad breakers. ALL of the breaker mfrs have had bad products get out into the field and have had recalls, even the venerated Square D QO breakers. What took FPE down was that when their failures became evident and widespread, they were found to have falsified UL test reports to try to cover it up. It might be that all of the others were doing that too and FPE were just the first to get caught, but their catastrophic crash and burn served as a warning to all breaker mfrs, so from then on they have all played it straight (so far as we know...).
 

twm22

Member
Yes they skipped on the UL testing of certain stab lok breakers in 1979 during their bankruptcy and subsequent acquisitions by UV industries and Reliance electric. Has absolutely nothing to do with any other FPE product line or any stab lok breakers made before or after that period of time.
I couldn't agree with you more. I've seen inspections come back from the field recommending that an FP transformer be replaced. My point relates only to the Stablok in question. I wouldn't even make a big deal of it but at the time, thousands of the defective units were installed throughout the US and we still see a good number.
 

ramsy

Senior Member
On your first point, it would be extremely rare for an insurance carrier to have any legal right to deny coverage for anything related to non-adherence to code, unless a requirement for such adherence is included, explicitly, in the policy or its incorporated documents. ..if the policy doesn't make direct reference to a code, there is very little chance that a claim can be denied.

..So to summarize, for small business and homeowner policies, coverage is broad and unless stated explicitly, without many exclusions.
Thank You.

Some contingency attorneys specializing in bad-faith insurance provide another side to this story.
Since internet links are not reliable, some text is shared below.

Herman & Wells said:
We see smoke damage and fire claims denied for a wide range of reasons. Insurance companies will sometimes accuse their insureds of starting the fire intentionally. Other denials are based on “protective safeguard” policy forms, which insurance companies use to deny claims if there was no fire alarm or smoke detector. Denial letters cite to vacancy provisions, insurance application answers, and concealment provisions.

Policyholders who have experienced fire losses go through the worst combination of loss to their property and invasive investigation by their insurance company. Insurance companies will ask for financial records and a multitude of other documents. They will demand sworn testimony in the form of an Examination Under Oath. Some insureds are so worn down by the delay and intimidated by the investigation process that they give up their claims.
Bad faith insurance victims are advised to hire separate investigators to document their home was up to code
https://www.tetzellaw.com/insurance-...-after-a-fire/

Tetzel Law said:
Fire insurance claims may be denied over errors made on a form or simply from lack of enough documentation that you are able to provide. The insurer, though, does have to offer an explanation for why your claim was denied.

If the reason was suspected arson or some fault of yours that the policy lists in its exclusion provisions, hire an independent investigator to undertake another investigation and prepare a written report if it is at odds with the insurer’s report and reason for denial. Your investigator should document that your home safety or fire alarm systems and smoke detectors were fully functioning and that your home was up to code. Once the report is complete, submit it for the insurer’s review. If it does not change their opinion, your policy will have provisions and instructions for filing an appeal.
This link has been more reliable over the years
http://www.badfaithinsurance.org/
 
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ramsy

Senior Member
In your more specific example about the Stab-Lok's: when a insurance policy states explicitly that Stab-lok's are not permitted, what that usually means is that any fire caused by the Stab-Loks is not covered. All other parts of the policy remain the same. For example, if you had a kitchen grease fire, you'd still be covered. But if the insurance company did not exclude the Stab-Loks explicitly, you'll have coverage for fires related to their poor performance, should it occur..
Thank You.

However, after reading your report my error will be on the side of caution.

Meaning, If FPE is not replaced, any attempts to make it serviceable will exclude UBI's (Connecticut Electric) documented failures of UL 489.
 

twm22

Member
Thank You.

Some contingency attorneys specializing in bad-faith insurance provide another side to this story.
Since internet links are not reliable, some text is shared below.



Bad faith insurance victims are advised to hire separate investigators to document their home was up to code
https://www.tetzellaw.com/insurance-...-after-a-fire/



This link has been more reliable over the years
http://www.badfaithinsurance.org/
There are a few statements in your post that should be noted. I agree that insurance companies intimidate and badger, but ultimately, in an overwhelming majority of cases, they pay their claims.
1. Denial of a claim based on suspicion of arson is so infrequent that it's not worth mentioning. If a fire marshal doesn't declare arson - claim is paid. If arson is declared but it can't be shown to be the policyholder's arson, the claim is paid.
2. "Protective Safeguard" policies are not "forms", they're location-specific additions to a policy form, and the policyholder acknowledges the "protective safeguard" requirements when they sign their policy. Stabloks are a perfect example. Many insurance policies have a protective safeguard warranty that the policyholder agrees to. If they don't know that they have Stabloks and they sign the policy, they are not covered for a Stablok caused fire. Other "protective safeguards" are for operational sprinkler systerms, aluminum branch wiring, operational fire alarms, no-vacancy clauses. Without the explicit addition of these protective safeguards, any loss from these hazards is covered. Without "protective safeguard" endorsements, many policyholders would not be able to get coverage.
3. Errors in insurance application answers? If it's material to the coverage provided, yes, the claim is denied. Claims denied because of immaterial documentation errors should not be denied and are not. Those claims that are denied in bad faith are rare. In fact, as much as insurance companies are hated for the front page bad faith stories, insurance companies pay billions every year in fraudulent claims and are arguably responsible for 3% of a policy's cost.
4. The invasive investigations? You must give blood to get life insurance. To say that an insurance company can't thoroughly investigate a claim is not an objective business or engineering decision. Policyholders will say they had a brand new roof and want to be paid for it. The investigator goes out and finds a 20-year old roof.
5. Financial records? A business owner gets paid for every month they're out of business. Policyholders will state that their monthly revenue is 2-3-4+ times higher. An remember, the insurance policy is a contract. There is a professional insurance agent running interference for the policyholder. They and the policyholder are agreeing to a thorough claims investigation prior to getting the policy. And the examination under oath? Absolutely required. Without a sworn "proof of loss" statement, there are no consequences for fraudulent claims reporting.

Your advice about hiring a public adjuster (or an attorney) is good advice, but it's important to note that any increase they get you in a settlement is usually offset by their fee. Many public adjusters are great; many are suspect. After hurricanes and hail storms, public adjusters often have roofers and other tradesmen go door-to-door, asking homeowners to "assign benefits" to the roofer. At that point, the claim will last much longer, because insurance companies do not automatically believe public adjusters. But if I had a claims problem, I'd hire a reputable public adjuster.
 

ramsy

Senior Member
..Many insurance policies have a protective safeguard warranty that the policyholder agrees to. If they don't know that they have Stabloks and they sign the policy, they are not covered for a Stablok caused fire.

Other "protective safeguards" are for operational sprinkler systems, aluminum branch wiring, operational fire alarms.. ..Without "protective safeguard" endorsements, many policyholders would not be able to get coverage..
Thank You, for the specialized perspective on this topic.

Do policies exist without requirements for Fire Codes (adding missing CO or smoke detectors in bedrooms), or NRTL Standards for replacement fixtures & new equipment, much less without Building Permit & Inspection for renovation, remodel, or alterations?
 

kwired

Electron manager
did not read all the replies so sorry if I stepped on anyone's toes.

If you are just adding a circuit or two or need to replace a breaker or two, today's replacements should be ok to use. They are expensive enough that if you are replacing all of them, even in only a 20 circuit panel, it will cost enough to make one consider replacing the entire panel - though there is usually more than just the cost of panel an breakers to consider.

If they are concerned about the safety of having a FPE panel but don't have the money to spend on a replacement, then they need to be given an estimate and time to find the funds instead of trying to partially upgrade a discontinued product, it will only cost them some more down the road if they ever make additions - no AFCI's available for this panel is reason enough when it comes to future additions.
 

twm22

Member
Thank You, for the specialized perspective on this topic.

Do policies exist without requirements for Fire Codes (adding missing CO or smoke detectors in bedrooms), or NRTL Standards for replacement fixtures & new equipment, much less without Building Permit & Inspection for renovation, remodel, or alterations?
Yes, on your first sentence, although they might send an inspector out who will recommend that those issues be addressed, and if not addressed, they'll have the right to cancel. On small market policies, like homeowners and small commercial, they don't inspect too hard - just to make sure there aren't any glaring problems. Generally, they won't look at permits, although they'll check elevator and boiler permits, sprinkler system maintenance tags, commercial kitchen tags
 

ramsy

Senior Member
..they might send an inspector out who will recommend that those issues be addressed, and if not addressed, they'll have the right to cancel..
Perhaps, where insurance inspectors are recognized Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) over adopted codes, "Protective safeguard" policy has no need to duplicate those efforts.

Insurance inspectors are defined as AHJ’s directly in the National Electrical Code; NFPA-70 § 90.4, 90.7, & 110.2, adopted at State levels. AHJ’s may inherit NFPA-70, the Uniform Building Code (UBC), NFPA-70E, OSHA, URC, and other codes that welcome insurance litigators as representatives in their code-making panels.

Municipal AHJ’s can revoke occupancy for building permit violations, under UBC § 18.90.110 (.30). No surprise insurance AHJ’s may cancel policy for avoiding inspections. Remodels missing permits are easy enough to check with building departments.

Insurance litigators have established precedent for those local enclaves that exclude building codes, permits with inspection, during construction or renovations. The Mississippi Supreme Court demonstrated its advocacy for building code law by punishing cities that issue permits to negligent builders: Lowe v. Lowndes County Building Inspection Department, 760 So. 2d 711 (Miss. 2000).

This case is a model thru-out the country, for the judicial process that describes fire & building-code negligence, what can happen with unqualified persons, and the building departments who permit them.

The standards property insurance demand may differentiate competitors who make that point a bid policy. However, the economy is not driven by developers incentivized by insurance standards. Developers demand indemnity with the municipality issuing permits; neither are party to the cause insurance may find for denying some future claim.

However, code defines property owners with equal right and responsibility as AHJ during construction or alterations. Perhaps having the only skin in the game, owners that hire ignoramuses do so at their own peril, since bearing all losses after those builders are long gone.
 
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tortuga

Senior Member
Excellent find sir. However, URL is broken. The internet SKU may be more reliable.
Ahhh the link got messed up.
https://www.homedepot.ca/product/sch...ker/1000112733

Edit more links
PDF version of Schneider Electric's catalogue with part numbers https://download.schneider-electric....&p_Doc_Ref=DE1
Schnieder Electric's UL 489 listing for Stab-loc / federal pioneer from 2006:
https://download.schneider-electric.com/files?p_enDocType=Certificate&p_File_Name=Stab-lok+certification.pdf&p_Doc_Ref=Stab-lok+certification
 
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kwired

Electron manager
FYI Stab-loc AFCI's are available when needed, here is one that was installed recently. It is not a combination type, just the first generation.
Schnider electric the owner of Square D took over stab-loc / federal pioneer a decade or so ago thru various mergers and the internals of those breakers are the same as a modern Square D QO.
UBI owns the distribution rights in the US, so the modern schneider electric stab-loc breakers are not available thru traditional channels, but are available in Canada:
https://www.homedepot.ca/product/schneider-electric-single-pole-15-amp-stab-lok-arc-fault-circuit-interrupter-breaker/1000112733
The UBI replacements are made with the same 1970's patents, I would trust the Schneider ones more.
What value is there in using non combination type for NEC applications? Too add a single circuit here or there, maybe a little value.

Even when not considering AFCI requirements, FPE replacement breakers get expensive in a hurry if you are just replacing them because you don't trust the originals.
 

twm22

Member
FYI Stab-loc AFCI's are available when needed, here is one that was installed recently. It is not a combination type, just the first generation.
Schnider electric the owner of Square D took over stab-loc / federal pioneer a decade or so ago thru various mergers and the internals of those breakers are the same as a modern Square D QO.
UBI owns the distribution rights in the US, so the modern schneider electric stab-loc breakers are not available thru traditional channels, but are available in Canada:
https://www.homedepot.ca/product/schneider-electric-single-pole-15-amp-stab-lok-arc-fault-circuit-interrupter-breaker/1000112733
The UBI replacements are made with the same 1970's patents, I would trust the Schneider ones more.
VERY interesting! Would you happen to know if Schnider markets this as an explicit mitigation and alternative to stablok replacement? I tend to doubt it, as the AFCI would not detect the initial overcurrent condition prior to arcing and sparking. I'll check out the link you sent. Thanks much.
 

hornetd

Senior Member
On your first point, it would be extremely rare for an insurance carrier to have any legal right to deny coverage for anything related to non-adherence to code, unless a requirement for such adherence is included, explicitly, in the policy or its incorporated documents. For smaller policies, such as home/condo-owners and small businesses, my estimate is that 98% of greater of the policies have direct, explicit to code language of any type. I'm thinking primarily in the property realm. The discussion elated to workers comp and other types of insurance are similar, however, in that if the policy doesn't make direct reference to a code, there is very little chance that a claim can be denied.

In your more specific example about the Stab-Lok's: when a insurance policy states explicitly that Stab-lok's are not permitted, what that usually means is that any fire caused by the Stab-Loks is not covered. All other parts of the policy remain the same. For example, if you had a kitchen grease fire, you'd still be covered. But if the insurance company did not exclude the Stab-Loks explicitly, you'll have coverage for fires related to their poor performance, should it occur.

So to summarize, for small business and homeowner policies, coverage is broad and unless stated explicitly, without many exclusions.

Insurance policy complexity grows with the size and sophistication of the business. Most insurance policies written for middle-sized businesses and above have more exclusions and enhancements.

Small real estate transactions rely on home inspectors, but insurance inspections tend to be done by a different type of inspector who has a slightly different focus. Some of these folks will do both, but home inspectors tend to work independently on the realtor's or buyer's/seller's/bank's behalf, while insurance inspectors work on behalf of the insurance carrier (the underwriter).
I know that what I am about to share may be seen as a petty quibble but if you look at the way insurance actually works you will see that the distinction can be important. I served 45 years as an active duty firefighter and one of the four semesters of fire protection law I had to take for my Associate of Fire Protection Science degree was entirely on fire insurance. Insurers write insurance policies. Underwriters reinsure the insurers from the consequences of of a catastrophic loss or losses. Underwriting is were the truly serious money in the insurance industry is made and occasionally lost. Obtaining underwriting for a particularly large set of risks is routine in the industry. When one California home burns in a wildfire that is a routine loss against which the insurer is not usually reinsured. To reinsure each individual risk would sharply cut the profitability of the insurer. But when the entire city of Paradise California burned to the ground the underwriters of the various individual insurers had to pay a major portion of the loss because that is what the insurer pays them their underwriting fee to do.

Stop right here if you do not want to read about the history of the term "Underwriting." If you want to know where it came from read on.

During the earliest days of the maritime insurance industry wealthy men would accept a fee from a ships owners; i.e. a premium; to insure the owners against the calamity of a total loss. The insurer bore the risk of weather delays, cargo spoilage, theft by crew and stevedores... All of these involved partial loss of the laded value. A loss of the entire vessel was often beyond the ability of any individual fortune to withstand. It could ruin the wealthy individual who wrote the insurance. Enter Lloyd's of London. Edward Lloyd's coffee shop was a place for the wealthy aristocracy of British Empire to "see and be seen." Insurers often went to Lloyd's to talk business with other wealthy men. A practice gradually evolved of writing the name of a vessel and it's insured value on a wall at Lloyd's as an invitation to participate in the profit of insuring that risk. Any man of sufficient standing in society in terms of both wealth and respect could then write their name under the posted risk with the portion of the risk they were prepared to undertake. Thus by placing their name under the risk; Underwriting it; they were taking up the offer to participate in the often profitable venture of insuring a ships voyage. Lloyd's became a de facto insurance market. That insurance market developed into the one still called Lloyd's of London to this day. When some prominent individual says that they are insured by Lloyd's of London they are engaged in a bit of hyperbole because Lloyd's is not an insurer or an Underwriter; that is a re-insurer; of anything. They are an insurance services conglomerate that brings all of the players to the same "place" even though they now have offices all over the world. The majority of the wealthy individuals or "Names" are long gone from the insurance industry. There are still a few persons of such wealth that they can still participate directly in the Lloyd's market but they are in a tiny minority of participants. They have been largely replaced by syndicates of individuals and underwriting firms who have access to the tremendous sums of capitol that is needed to take on the largest risks.

There you have it. Insurers insure risks. Underwriters insure insurers. Lloyd's provides both with the scale of insurance services that is required to make it all possible.

--
Tom Horne
 

hornetd

Senior Member
There are a few statements in your post that should be noted. I agree that insurance companies intimidate and badger, but ultimately, in an overwhelming majority of cases, they pay their claims.
1. Denial of a claim based on suspicion of arson is so infrequent that it's not worth mentioning. If a fire marshal doesn't declare arson - claim is paid. If arson is declared but it can't be shown to be the policyholder's arson, the claim is paid.
2. "Protective Safeguard" policies are not "forms", they're location-specific additions to a policy form, and the policyholder acknowledges the "protective safeguard" requirements when they sign their policy. Stabloks are a perfect example. Many insurance policies have a protective safeguard warranty that the policyholder agrees to. If they don't know that they have Stabloks and they sign the policy, they are not covered for a Stablok caused fire. Other "protective safeguards" are for operational sprinkler systems, aluminum branch wiring, operational fire alarms, no-vacancy clauses. Without the explicit addition of these protective safeguards, any loss from these hazards is covered. Without "protective safeguard" endorsements, many policyholders would not be able to get coverage.
3. Errors in insurance application answers? If it's material to the coverage provided, yes, the claim is denied. Claims denied because of immaterial documentation errors should not be denied and are not. Those claims that are denied in bad faith are rare. In fact, as much as insurance companies are hated for the front page bad faith stories, insurance companies pay billions every year in fraudulent claims and are arguably responsible for 3% of a policy's cost.
4. The invasive investigations? You must give blood to get life insurance. To say that an insurance company can't thoroughly investigate a claim is not an objective business or engineering decision. Policyholders will say they had a brand new roof and want to be paid for it. The investigator goes out and finds a 20-year old roof.
5. Financial records? A business owner gets paid for every month they're out of business. Policyholders will state that their monthly revenue is 2-3-4+ times higher. An remember, the insurance policy is a contract. There is a professional insurance agent running interference for the policyholder. They and the policyholder are agreeing to a thorough claims investigation prior to getting the policy. And the examination under oath? Absolutely required. Without a sworn "proof of loss" statement, there are no consequences for fraudulent claims reporting.

Your advice about hiring a public adjuster (or an attorney) is good advice, but it's important to note that any increase they get you in a settlement is usually offset by their fee. Many public adjusters are great; many are suspect. After hurricanes and hail storms, public adjusters often have roofers and other tradesmen go door-to-door, asking homeowners to "assign benefits" to the roofer. At that point, the claim will last much longer, because insurance companies do not automatically believe public adjusters. But if I had a claims problem, I'd hire a reputable public adjuster.
As a firefighter I had to summon police several times in order to have people who claimed to be "Public Adjusters" removed from a fire scene. It was of no interest to me or to the local government which I worked for what their business interest was. The moment that they attempted to gain access to a premise of any description were fire suppression or loss reduction operations were ongoing we had them removed. In all of the instances were I called or convinced command to call for police to remove them they came across to me as charlatans. The first thing out of their mouths when their presence inside the operational area was questioned was a threat to sue me personally. All that ever did was to make me determined to do anything I could lawfully due to keep them from ripping off the homeowner. Idle threats are the first recourse of someone who already knows they are in the wrong.

Something most people never think about is what gives firefighters the legal authority to breach your gate, break down your door, break every single window in your home, cut large holes in your roof, and pour, literally, tons of water if necessary all over everything you own. The legal authority to do those rather destructive things to your property is derived from the "Police Power" of the State. The State has no duty to you to protect you from your own misfortune or lack of prudence. The State's Police Power is that power it exercises in protecting you from your neighbors negligence. When firefighters enter a building to suppress an uncontrolled destructive fire; in a legal sense; they are not doing so to save the owners life or property from destruction. They enter the building of origin or any other building on the premise that to do so is the most effective way to prevent the occupants' fire from endangering the rest of the community. If the firefighters can hold the fire to a "room and contents" the owner and occupants certainly benefit but the legal reason that they do so is to have the greatest chance of keeping that fire from getting outside the building of origin to become a threat to the rest of the community. A legal consequence of that principal is that when a destructive fire breaks out the ownership of the building of origin instantly conveys to the governor of the state. Firefighters can take any action within the scope of their duties to prevent the spread of that fire to the homes of others and in doing so are cloaked with the sovereign immunity of the State. If they destroy everything you own but keep the fire confined and the attendant damage limited to that one building then that response is a complete success in a legal sense. To enable firefighters to do that work successfully they gain absolute control over access to the premise at the instant of ignition of the uncontrolled fire. The fire chiefs control of the involved structure comes directly from the governor of the state. No one except the governor or his designee can remove the control of any fire involved premise from the fire chief of the community where the structure is located.

The behavior of the "Public Adjusters" about whom I became concerned was to get inside the operational area and continuously tell the occupant while they are already in a state of shock that the fire department is destroying everything they own and if the occupant does not sign over 10% or more of what they will "force the insurance company to pay" they are going to end up with nothing. In 45 years of active fire suppression work I never engaged in frivolous damage to anyone's property. Naturally I personally resented the things they would say in order to frighten the owner or occupant into signing away a portion of their insurance payout. Yet I think that what I honestly detested even more was their attempts to con distressed fire victims out of the money that their insurer owed them.

The first line of every Emergency Medical Care Protocol in my State reads "Calm and Reassure the Patient." The first action I would take to get them away from these people that I believed were thieves in suits was to get them out of the weather and the tumult of the fire scene operational area. Initially I would move them to an air conditioned support vehicle that was situated near a peace officer. I would immediately ask the police officer to intervene if anyone tried to open any of the vehicles doors other than a uniformed public safety, relief worker, or the victim themselves. I would separate the prey from the hunter with malice of forethought. I would then seek out a neighbor with which the victim had a good relationship and move them to the more comfortable and quiet neighbors home. I would deliberately coach the persons providing shelter against admitting these "Adjusters" to their home by stating fact. "See those people over their one her front porch? They are trying to get your neighbor to sign over a portion of the money the insurance company owes them in exchange for services as their representative to the insurance company." I never had to say anything more. None of the hosts ever admitted one of those "Adjusters" to their home. One had a pair of them arrested for trying to deceive them into believing that they had to let them in to talk to the victim. The charge of attempted criminal trespass by misrepresentation held up in court. They pleaded to that to avoid going to trial on insurance fraud and impersonation of a public official. I'll admit that I was disappointed that they plead out. I was looking forward to testifying against them very much. Since I was wairing a body camera throughout the incident all I was going to do was testify to the origin of the video it recorded. The County Attorney assured me that the video would put them in prison if they went to trial on the more serious charges. In 45 years of service I had to be deposed a couple of times and appear once in a legal proceeding arising out of my service. Each time I had the very reassuring advise of a County Attorney to help me through it as I was functionally involved as a State Agent.

--
Tom Horne
 

TangentJimT

New User
I'm a licensed Home Inspector in North Carolina. Per state regulations, I had to pass an extensive course approved by the state before I could sit for their rigorous exam. Annual Continuing Education is a requirement for license renewal. My license is issued by the North Carolina Department of Insurance. I was fortunate in that I was a GC in Virginia for many years, so I was a step ahead of some of the inspectors that I have met since in the field or at CE courses. I also happen to be the kind of person who is interested in being informed beyond the requirements of my license or my trade, which is why I am a member of this forum. I learn a lot from Mike Holt and follow the threads in the forum religiously.

When I perform a home inspection, I have about 3 hours to review every item and the workmanship of every trade. I need knowledge about product specifications, recalls, installation requirements, etc.

Regarding FPE and a few other problematic brands/models/products, I am required to use a comment that I did not write, it was written by the state board. I simply insert it as required. In a few cases, I find myself disagreeing with some of the verbiage, but it's my job - and my license. Here is the comment on FPE:

The electrical system of this home contains a Federal Pacific Electric “Stab-Lok” service panelboard. The reliability and safety of this panelboard is in question due to documented circuit breaker and busbar failures.

Due to possible hazardous conditions, the panelboard enclosure's dead front cover was not removed and the electrical inspection was not completed. Proper identification of latent defects or evidence of hazardous conditions related to this system requires the removal of the circuit breakers and is beyond the scope of the home inspection. A licensed electrical contractor should be consulted for a complete invasive inspection of the electrical panelboard to determine if repair, modification, or replacement is needed to ensure safe and reliable service.


Please note that I'm not saying to replace it, I'm saying they should hire one of you guys - your knowledge and experience in your field is deeper than mine. I'm concerned about electric. plumbing, HVAC, roofs, siding, appliances, stairs, tile work, door & window function and on and on. Your spend every day immersed in one trade.

Imagine my liability if I ignored possible safety concerns. Imagine my agony if a family lost their home to fire. Or their lives.

One advantage I have is the fact that a real estate sale is part of the reason for my being called in. Whether I'm working for the seller who wants to get ahead of the prospective buyers' inspector by doing repairs ahead of time or whether I'm representing the buyers, it's my job to do my utmost to protect my client. Whether before or after a sales contract, all parties have a financial interest in moving the sale forward. This usually leads to some level of repair prior to settlement or some form of monetary compensation at the settlement.

It sounds like the folks in the beginning of this thread are in a tough financial position and they at least believe that they can't "afford" what the licensed electrician is advising. Tough call, but refer back to who controls my license - the Department of Insurance.
 

kwired

Electron manager
I'm a licensed Home Inspector in North Carolina. Per state regulations, I had to pass an extensive course approved by the state before I could sit for their rigorous exam. Annual Continuing Education is a requirement for license renewal. My license is issued by the North Carolina Department of Insurance. I was fortunate in that I was a GC in Virginia for many years, so I was a step ahead of some of the inspectors that I have met since in the field or at CE courses. I also happen to be the kind of person who is interested in being informed beyond the requirements of my license or my trade, which is why I am a member of this forum. I learn a lot from Mike Holt and follow the threads in the forum religiously.

When I perform a home inspection, I have about 3 hours to review every item and the workmanship of every trade. I need knowledge about product specifications, recalls, installation requirements, etc.

Regarding FPE and a few other problematic brands/models/products, I am required to use a comment that I did not write, it was written by the state board. I simply insert it as required. In a few cases, I find myself disagreeing with some of the verbiage, but it's my job - and my license. Here is the comment on FPE:

The electrical system of this home contains a Federal Pacific Electric “Stab-Lok” service panelboard. The reliability and safety of this panelboard is in question due to documented circuit breaker and busbar failures.

Due to possible hazardous conditions, the panelboard enclosure's dead front cover was not removed and the electrical inspection was not completed. Proper identification of latent defects or evidence of hazardous conditions related to this system requires the removal of the circuit breakers and is beyond the scope of the home inspection. A licensed electrical contractor should be consulted for a complete invasive inspection of the electrical panelboard to determine if repair, modification, or replacement is needed to ensure safe and reliable service.


Please note that I'm not saying to replace it, I'm saying they should hire one of you guys - your knowledge and experience in your field is deeper than mine. I'm concerned about electric. plumbing, HVAC, roofs, siding, appliances, stairs, tile work, door & window function and on and on. Your spend every day immersed in one trade.

Imagine my liability if I ignored possible safety concerns. Imagine my agony if a family lost their home to fire. Or their lives.

One advantage I have is the fact that a real estate sale is part of the reason for my being called in. Whether I'm working for the seller who wants to get ahead of the prospective buyers' inspector by doing repairs ahead of time or whether I'm representing the buyers, it's my job to do my utmost to protect my client. Whether before or after a sales contract, all parties have a financial interest in moving the sale forward. This usually leads to some level of repair prior to settlement or some form of monetary compensation at the settlement.

It sounds like the folks in the beginning of this thread are in a tough financial position and they at least believe that they can't "afford" what the licensed electrician is advising. Tough call, but refer back to who controls my license - the Department of Insurance.
You are just passing on assessment of the panel, which I as an EC will kind of also do. That client calls me to address what you brought up about it, and the most I will do is report whether there is any external signs of problems, and then state something about there be documented cases of this series of panelboard having catastrophic failures and that I will not make any statement about how safe this particular one is because it will likely cost more to fully investigate the situation than a replacement with newer modern equipment would cost.
 
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