Jump to content

KBHI Says Calling FPE Panels is Irresponsible


hausdok
 Share

Recommended Posts

TIJ has just received a copy of an official advisory memorandum (#07-001) from the Kentucky Board of Home Inspectors that is addressed to To all Kentucky licensed home inspectors and KBHI approved education providers.

In bullet point format, the document states that:

There is no current documentation from any source that states the FPE panels and breakers are a hazard to life and property solely because of the name of the manufacturer. To assume so without current documentation is incorrect and irresponsible.

To require or recommend the removal of FPE panels and breakers solely on the basis of the manufacturer's name and without visual evidence of a specific hazard is irresponsible and could cause the homeowner undue financial hardship.

The memo goes on to state that if an inspection of the interior of the panel indicates arcing or extreme heat that the inspector shall recommend further evaluation by a licensed Kentucky electrician, but states that only a licensed Kentucky electrician has the authority to determine what action is appropriate.

Lastly, the memo states, "To assume all FPE devices are unsafe and a fire hazard without current evaluation by a Kentucky licensed electrician is not within the scope of a home inspection," and goes on to direct home inspectors to review their inspection reports for compliance with the advisory bulletin.

The FPE panel issue is not a new one. Inspectors have known for more than a decade that the FPE Stablok panels are problematic and a class action lawsuit was initiated against the principals of FPE more than 4 years ago. These panels have even garnered mention in home inspection texts. Electricians across the country know about them as well and rarely dispute an inspectors recommendation to replace them. Several years ago, Douglas Hansen, long the undisputed guru of inspecting electrical systems, authored FPE Panels - Hazard or Hype?, a paper that supports inspectors who were calling for replacement of Stablok panels.

One is forced to wonder what kind of nimrods have been appointed to the Kentucky Board of Home Inspectors (KBHI) and who they are kow-towing to with this memorandum. Do these people even realize that their ultimate obligation is to the truth - not to the truth as a seller or listing agent wishes it to be? Why are they concerned about a seller's financial hardship? Should cash-strapped buyers, who're cleaning out their savings accounts and working two jobs be saddled with the cost of replacing these latent fire hazards when they eventually go bad - and they will go bad. Maybe these individuals should look inward to find a definition of "irresponsible" or, better yet, maybe they should be forced to live in homes equipped with FPE Stablok panels.

Let's hope nobody's family loses a child or another loved one to a fire caused by one of these panels because KBHI can't stand on it's own two feet.

Download Attachment: icon_adobe.gif KyFpeAdvisoryBulletin.pdf

79.79 KB

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 84
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Thanks, Scott, but I got it.

I called Erby, who's more in the loop than I am vis a vis who's doing what and why, and he pointed out an interesting distinction. The memo mentions FPE panels, but doesn't say anything about Stab-Loks, specifically. I wonder if that was intentional or not?

As for writing the governor, there's a regime change in January, so the sitting duck is also a lame one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Bain

Thanks, Scott, but I got it.

I called Erby, who's more in the loop than I am vis a vis who's doing what and why, and he pointed out an interesting distinction. The memo mentions FPE panels, but doesn't say anything about Stab-Loks, specifically. I wonder if that was intentional or not?

As for writing the governor, there's a regime change in January, so the sitting duck is also a lame one.

All the more reason to write.

The guy leaving office is often more than happy to toss a stumbling block in front of his successor - particularly if his successor defeated him or is from another party.

If the guy sitting now were to be flooded by a deluge of correspondence expressing concern for the safety of Kentucky citizens, and then threw this rule out, the new guy would then have the unenviable task of deciding whether to reinstate a rule that could ultimately see someone killed under his watch. That's not exactly a tantalizing prospect to ponder when one is looking at reelection only two years away.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Surely the push for that came from the RE sales team. Who else would have a motive to silence good HI's on this issue? Sellers may not like it, but I can't imagine them actually getting together to exert influence on the board.

And don't forget this is the same state that tries to keep its HI's from talking about code. Morons.

Brian G.

Nuts On a Board...Where's My Hammer? [:-censore

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

Word has it that the idea was pushed by the reel-tours and then the electricians agreed and went along with it. Well, why wouldn't the electricians go along with it? What are they going to say, "We don't mind that home inspectors are making a call that we can get paid to make?"

Anyway, the memo is inaccurate when it says that, "There is no current documentation from any source that states the FPE panels and breakers are a hazard to life and property," because there is plenty of documentation and research right here. If the KBHI is ignoring this they are even bigger pinheads than we think.

They talk about arcing, but the arcing in an FPE panel, just like in a Zinsco panel, isn't visible unless one pulls the breakers. I have the guts out of an old Zinsco panel that I use to prove that to clients. It looks perfectly normal until you pull the breaker and can see the bus and then one easily understands why it's a concern. If the home inspectors on the KBHI don't know this they aren't competent as home inspectors and shouldn't be serving on the board and someone needs to let the Governor know about that.

Why is it that the electricians are the only one's authorized to determine if the panel is hazardous? Will an electrical engineer agree with that? How about a fire chief?

You guys in Kentucky need to get together, pool some funds, and get some full page ads printed in some papers explaining the issue to the public and pointing them to Aronstein's work and Hansen's paper. Even if only 1 in 5 adults who reads it is concerned enough to pick up the phone or shoot off an email or write their local paper, it will have an effect.

Don't think so? Look what the inspectors in North Carolina were able to do. Maybe a few of you picketing the KBHI on the capitol steps with your mouths taped shut is just what you need.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, not to get off track or to hi-jack the thread but I was wondering if someone could point out a good article, link etc, with the complete history of the FPE panels and stab-loks. I've read and been told about them and seen pictures too (haven't seen one in real life yet) but that is only the result not all the who's how's why's etc. So, if you could toss out some consolidated info that would rock. Would also be a good thing to print out and keep on file I would think. Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You guys in Kentucky need to do like we did here in North Carolina, call the newspapers and television stations and let them know the public safety is at risk with this goofy memorandum.

Home inspectors are small in number, but you should never lose sight of the fact that we stand on the high ground. You have far more power than you realize.

Marion Peeples

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Bain

I called Erby, who's more in the loop than I am vis a vis who's doing what and why, and he pointed out an interesting distinction. The memo mentions FPE panels, but doesn't say anything about Stab-Loks, specifically. I wonder if that was intentional or not?

I noticed that also.

When I first read the bulletin I had the same reaction that many here have posted -- what are they, nuts? Then I went back and read it again more carefully.

I couldn't tell you whether they meant to say what they said, but I can tell you that I agree with what they actually did say -- except for the part about the licensed electrician being the only authority that can determine an appropriate course of action.

I'll quote and underline the important words that form the basis of my opinion on this post.

"There is no current documentation from any source that states the FPE panels and breakers are a hazard to life and property solely because of the name of the manufacturer. To assume so without current documentation is incorrect and irresponsible."

"To require or recommend the removal of FPE panels and breakers solely on the basis of the manufacturer's name and without visual evidence of a specific hazard is irresponsible..."

"To assume all FPE devices are unsafe and a fire hazard ..."

All FPE stuff is not bad. To call it out for replacement just because you see an FPE label on it "is incorrect and irresponsible".

I point this out for the benefit of those who want to take the fight to the KBHI. I suggest you acknowledge that all FPE stuff is not bad but point out that there are problems associated with specific components from that manufacturer (Stab-Lok). IMO it will make your argument more compelling and credible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Brandon Chew

Originally posted by Bain. . . I point this out for the benefit of those who want to take the fight to the KBHI. I suggest you acknowledge that all FPE stuff is not bad but point out that there are problems associated with specific components from that manufacturer (Stab-Lok). IMO it will make your argument more compelling and credible.

I'm not so sure about that. As far as I know, all of FPE's circuit breaker panels, from the first to the last, used the same bus-connection design and the same troublesome breaker design. In other words, there are no good FPE circuit breaker panels out there.

FPE also made fuse boxes. Those were fine. But the advisory specifically talks about panels & breakers, not fuses.

I doubt that the committee is even aware that FPE also made baseboard heaters . . .

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When a recall is announce on a product found to be defective all of the product is recalled not some of them. Why, because there is a chance that something bad will happen.

There is no recall on FPE but there is enough documentation for a independent home inspector to recommend, advise or suggest the panel be replaced.

If an electrician signs on the dotted line saying the unit is ok so be it, I did my job.

If your client is the Realtour than it's your job to go lightly on FPE.

Cave dweller

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

Jim beat me to it. I think the paper was carefully worded to avoid the Stablok debate.

It forces inspectors to either simply ignore the FPE issue or refer it to an electrician. The advantage of doing that is that then the reel-tours are able to call their favorite always-referred electrician to say that things are fine. It's been my experience that, unless the thing is so bad that the house is on the verge of burning down now, knowing that many more referrals will be coming his/her way if he helps the reel-tour, electricians tend to avoid getting into the middle of a pending sales transaction argument and are only too happy to discredit a pesky inspector or two when they can.

The KBHI hopes that this puts them on the high ground. However, let me ask everyone a question that Jim has already aluded to - has anyone ever seen any FPE residential panels, other than the old edison fuse type panels which we already know are obsolete, that are not Stablok panels? I haven't and I've been doing this nearly 12 years and have commented on hundreds of Stablok panels.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All FPE stuff is not bad. To call it out for replacement just because you see an FPE label on it "is incorrect and irresponsible".

So I take it then that all the information concerning FPE panels and breakers on Daniel Friedmans site is a lie?

The statement by the CPSC a lie, the revocation of their UL listing a lie, the many tests that have proven the breaker design is unreliable a lie?

My own personal experience finding them stuck a mental lapse?

Man, I have been so naive!

Thanks KBHI for setting me straight.

Where's Walter? The KBHI's logic is totally screwed.

Chris, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They were all designed with E & F breaker slots. The E-slots are for the narrow wafer breakers and the F-slots for the full-width breakers. You can use either one F type breaker or two E type breakers in an E-slot but only one of either type in an F-slot. That's where the trouble comes in - people try to jam a second E-type breaker into an F-slot and the tangs bend. It's making contact but it isn't locked in. I've never seen any other type of FPE bus design, so I think Jim is correct.

This only illustrates more clearly that the KBHI doesn't understand the issues and is therefore incompetent to make this call in concert with the Office of Housing, Building & Construction Electrical Advisory Committee. If they had understood it and made the OHBC electrical advisory committee clear on it, I doubt that any responsible and competent group would have issues such an idiotic edict - the relative term here being competent.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let me be clear, lest I be thrown under the bus with the KBHI. My point is that not everything that FPE made was bad. I fully agree that the Stab-Lok stuff is bad.

If I see an FPE panel & breakers, I always confirm that it is Stab-Lok before I write it up. According to Jim, that extra step is not necessary. If that's true, and I have no reason to doubt that it is not, then what I wrote above doesn't apply, because "FPE panels and breakers" and Stab-Lok are the same thing, and in that case I fully agree with what the rest of the brethren have been posting on this thread. I'll eat my humble pie and like it, because in the process I will have learned something important on this issue that I didn't know before.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by hausdok

They were all designed with E & F breaker slots. The E-slots are for the narrow wafer breakers and the F-slots for the full-width breakers. You can use either one F type breaker or two E type breakers in an E-slot but only one of either type in an F-slot. That's where the trouble comes in - people try to jam a second E-type breaker into an F-slot and the tangs bend. It's making contact but it isn't locked in. I've never seen any other type of FPE bus design, so I think Jim is correct.

This isn't the only problem though correct? There is also the problem of the breakers not tripping on an over amped condition and if I understand correctly, it's only to 220v double pole that has this problem oui?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

All FPE stuff is not bad. To call it out for replacement just because you see an FPE label on it "is incorrect and irresponsible".

Where's Walter? The KBHI's logic is totally screwed.

Chris, Oregon

Well, I've held off until now. Those who get insulted by my how-dumb-can-they-get rants, please, just stop reading now.

First logical breakdown: As anybody above moron level should be able to figure out, the name of the manufacturer has nothing to do with the defects. These people are thinking at grade-school level.

Next thing: There's plenty of documentation re FPE. Doug Hansen's article on FPE defects and Dan Friedman's research are documentation. Whoever wrote the KY memo could have, and should have, done a little Googling. What one sees in the KY memo is ignorance on parade.

Next thing: This memo is actually a gift to HIs. If I were doing HI work in KY, I'd just hand a copy to every customer. "State says I can't apply my knowledge, expertise and judgment to this. Call your legislator. By the way, the people who wrote this are fulla crap up to their eyeballs."

Next thing: These people just don't know how to write. You'd think they'd find a smarty somewhere in bureaucrat-land who could fix their mangled logic and syntax, if only to keep them from looking like fools.

Next thing: They cite no sources for their lame opinions. Simply put, they just made this stuff up. For instance, when they categorize standard practices as "incorrect and irresponsible," they're just offering a subjective opinion, with no backup at all. Also, they should know that HIs can't "require" the removal or replacement of anything...

Now, with apologies to the author of the words below, the text is a glaring example of what happens when people who don't write carefully shoot themselves in the feet, shins, thighs and balls...

"I point this out for the benefit of those who want to take the fight to the KBHI. I suggest you acknowledge that all FPE stuff is not bad but point out that there are problems associated with specific components from that manufacturer (Stab-Lok). IMO it will make your argument more compelling and credible.

No, no, no. The above would destroy an HI's credibility. The words "all FPE stuff is not bad" actually mean that everything that FPE ever made is good. The correct wording would have been something like, "not all FPE stuff is known to be defective." That means that some FPE might just be bad. It's a critical distinction, and it requires critical thinking.

Believe me when I tell you: The authors of this memo didn't engage in any "careful wording." They might've thought they were doing so, but they weren't. The memo reeks of uneducated morons.

Sorry. Words mean things. Bear in mind that rules of grammar, syntax and logic have been around for a long time. I didn't make them up just for sport.

WJ

PS: I have media contacts in KY. If KY HIs can't handle this themselves, I might just do it for 'em.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...