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Zinsco & My Daughter


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My daughter bought a condo the other day (and, unbeknownst to her, her grandfather built the building back in 1969, and I swept up during construction after the trades; way cool), and at the inspection I found the Zinsco panel. I pulled each and every breaker off the bus to check for corrosion or signs of over-heating (what I believe to be the potential problems with such panels). Zip, zero, nadda. Would you still worry about the panelboard?

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Personally, I would still recommend a new panel. While it is obvious that I haven't seen the panel in question, I don't really think it matters. I spent my teenage years in a house with a Sylvania/ Zinsco panel in it. After college, I joined my dad in his construction business which we ran out of an office in his home. This was long before I became a home inspector and learned about the problems with Zinsco/ Sylvania panels. Anyway, the Sylvania panel developed a problem when it was about 12 years old or so. Lights were flickering and you could often hear buzzing and crackling noises from inside the panel which was located in the office closet.

My memory as to dates could be off a few years.

What matters is that arcing became a big problem and he ended up replacing the entire panel.

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My home (Plano, TX) was built in 1982 and had a Zinsco/GTE/Sylvania SEP installed.

It was noted on the inspector's report when we bought the home 7 years ago. (Yes, I tailgated the inspector, but did not officially do it myself for the sake of ethics)

Two summers ago I was in the garage (panel located there) and the 200 amp main popped and about gave me a heart attack. I tried to reset the main and it wouldn't do so. I waited a few minutes and it finally did reset. Then about 10-15 minutes later it tripped again. I waited (again) and reset it and it held.

I called the electrician I work with and he slapped me for not replacing the panel 7-years ago!!

Anyway ... I had him replace the entire panel and got the problem removed.

BTW - my panel was as clean as a whistle on the breakers and buss bars.

Bottom line ... Sleep well, be safe and replace the panel.

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I used to live right across the street from an electrician firm and used to walk across the street for advice every once in a while.

A few years ago I asked them about their experience with Zinsco panels. They told me then that they'd just replaced every single panel in an 80-unit condominium building where the Zinsco product had been used and that they'd discovered during the process of the replacement that a "significant number" of panels had serious arcing issues in them.

I don't know exactly what they meant by "significant number" but I should think even one panel with serious arcing issues in a condominium building would be a scary prospect for everyone living in the building.

If it were my daughter, I'd get after the HOA to foot the bill to swap them all out now.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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To be 100% safe, everybody in the building needs a new panel. [:(]

But aside from that, it's pretty cool to have that kind of a legacy in the building. Post a pic?

Thanks for noticing, John. My father & grandfather were builders, and that's where I got my start. This building was built in 1968 or '69, and again, I learned how to use sweeping compound back then as a 13 year old. The front upper right balcony is where Mario the funny electrician locked me out on one fine day.

Real plaster walls, elevator, lobby with sitting area/furniture, party room; a nice building for the era. Not small units, either; the one my girl is buying is almost 1,600 sf

Mike Lamb will recognize the building; right across the street from Brother Rice HS.

Guess I'm gonna be replacing a panelboard, and sending a note to the HO Assoc.

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