Is your electrical panel unsafe?

holiday lighting safety tips

The beating heart of your home is its electrical system: without it, nothing would function as it should. It is important that electricity flows safely throughout your home. How do you know if your electrical panel is safe or unsafe? Here, we will take a look at what constitutes an unsafe panel and talk about why it’s important to replace panels that could pose a safety threat.

Types of Unsafe Panels

Federal Pacific Electric Panels (FPE)

Federal Pacific Electric was a popular manufacturer of electric panels in the United States. Between the 1950s and the 1980s, there were millions of these panels installed in homes, and many of them are still working today. Unfortunately, the panels are not safe. The circuit breakers on the panels fail to trip when there is an overload or a short circuit. If this happens, electricity will surge through the circuit, which causes overheating, and in some situations, fires. The panels have also been known to still send power in the ‘off’ setting, which is also dangerous.

What to look for: If your home was built within the above three decades, check the inside of the panel cover for ‘Federal Pacific’, ‘Federal Pacific Electric’, or ‘Stab-Lok.’

Federal Pacific Electrical Panel

Zinsco Electrical Panels:

These panels were popular in the 1970s. The circuit breakers often melt to the main bus bar, which is a large metal strip that helps the electrical current flow from the electric meter to the panel. If melting happens, the breakers can’t trip, and you could be at risk for a house fire.

What to look for: Look for ‘Zinsco’ or ‘GTE-Sylvania’ labels. After GTE-Sylvania purchased Zinsco, the panels were rebranded, but they could have the same problems.

Zinsco panel
When to Replace Your Panel

If the panel in your home is more than 20 years old, it is very important to practice fire prevention and look at getting it replaced immediately. The longer you wait, the greater risk you have of a house fire or unexpected electrical failure.

Here are some other warning signs that your electrical panel needs to be replaced.

#1: Unusual smells or sounds.

Your electrical panel should never have a burning smell. Buzzing or hissing sounds are also not normal and should not be ignored. This could indicate a bad wire or loose connection and if that is ignored, greater damage could be done. If you notice any strange smells or sounds, it is essential to call an electrician immediately to get the panel inspected and replaced.

#2: Breakers that trip regularly.

Tired of constantly flipping your breaker on and off? This could be an indicator that something is wrong with the panel. Many homeowners use more electricity than in years past, and if your electrical panel can’t keep up with your electrical usage, then the breakers may trip more often.

#3: The panel is warm or hot to the touch.

Overheating should trigger a circuit breaker to trip and protect your home from a fire. Sometimes this feature malfunctions and the panel may feel warm or hot. This could signal a serious problem and requires one of our electricians to come out and troubleshoot.

Don’t Ignore Your Panel Replacement

Replacing your electrical panel is not something you should attempt to do by yourself. Instead, call our experienced Tacoma electricians at Tapps Electric to do a thorough electrical inspection and panel replacement. Our licensed electricians have the training and expertise to get the job done right, so you can rest knowing your electrical panel is working exactly how it should. Contact us today to get your appointment scheduled.

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