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Important Technical Info: FPE Stab-Lok Panels


Daniel Friedman
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I thought I'd start a separate thread about this FPE Stab-Lok issue and explain some of the more technical aspects.

THE FPE Stab-Lok HAZARD

The hazards of Federal Pacific Electric FPE Stab-Lok panels have been studied and documented thoroughly, have been the subject of national home inspection seminars and conferences, published in newsletters, and published in the Journal of Light Construction. Basically we have circuit breakers that fail to trip at a rate thousands of times worse than normal industry standards, a bus that can fail to retain the circuit breakers, and possibly other defects that extended across the product life of this line.

FPE Stab-Lok PANELS SHOULD BE REPLACED

Because an FPE Stab-Lok circuit breaker has a very unusually high rate of failure to trip (and because there are other bus and panel design defects and failures) these electrical panels should be replaced. Period.

FPE RESEARCH

More than 20 years of independent research and field reports as well as US Government documents(from the SEC) and a recent court finding in New Jersey confirm that the the company acted fraudulently and that the FPE Stab-Lok hazard is a real one - breakers fail to trip in response to an overcurrent, up to 60% of the time.

Home inspectors and owners should see: The FPE Hazards Website http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpepanel.htm

Inspectors are welcome to print hard copies of any pages of this website that they wish to provide to their clients, home owners, realtors, or their state authorities.

FPE REPORT

The latest FPE Stab-Lok Panel technical report is in .pdf format and can be downloaded directly using the link just below. If you are having trouble accessing this file just shoot me an email using the address at the bottom of this post and I'll send a copy to you directly.

http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/FPECircui ... 070525.PDF

If the .PDF form is too slow to download, an older copy of this report is at

http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpestlouis.htm

Home inspectors anywhere are invited to print the technical report and/or pages from the website to give to clients in homes where an FPE Stab-Lok electrical panel is found.

FIELD REPORTS OF FPE Stab-Lok failures

See http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpefire.htm

HOW TO IDENTIFY FPE STAB-LOK EQUIPMENT

See http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpeid.htm

FIELD INSPECTIONS/ELECTRICIANS "OK"

No visual inspection and in fact not even electrical testing in the field can reliably identify the hazards at a specific panel. Worse, testing these panels in the field is dangerous and can actually INCREASE the risk of a future breaker's failure to trip. This problem, added to lack of familiarity of the issue among some electricians, is why it is unreliable to ask for and rely on an electricians "inspection" of an FPE Stab-Lok electrical panel. A list of electricians who are indeed familiar with and can replace FPE panels is maintained at http://www.inspect-ny.com/pointers.htm#electric - listings are free to qualified electricians.

UP TO NOW OUR FPE PANEL HAS BEEN FINE

The observation by some owners that "up to now we've never had a problem" is unreliable. Most circuit breakers are never called-on to trip due to an overcurrent. It's like riding in a car with a seatbelt connected just by a thread. Up to now everything seems just fine, but then, you've not been in a crash which would call on the seatbelt for protection. The panel does not itself initiate a problem; rather it is likely to fail to protect the building wiring (and thus the building and its occupants) when an overcurrent (that should trip the breaker) occurs. Properly put we call this a LATENT SAFETY HAZARD.

REPLACEMENT FPE STAB-LOK CIRCUIT BREAKERS

Are not recommended. See the discussion at http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/FPEBreakers.htm for more details.

REPLACEMENTS FOR FPE STAB-LOK ELECTRICAL PANELS

The typical cost to cure - a new electrical panel - is a miniscule portion of the value of a home and in no circumstances should be considered a "show stopper" in a real estate transaction. Further, home inspectors should have no position about who should pay for such a repair (such is unethical). The panel should be replaced, no matter who pays for it. Replacement options at http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpereplace.htm include methods that for some cases can cut the typical replacement cost in half.

CANADIAN FPE

Federal Pioneer Stab-Lok circuit breakers and panels were and may still be sold (under Schneider Electric) in Canada. I have definitely had failure reports from the Canadian version of this product but reports have been few compared with in the U.S. We don't know if this is due to differences in the product (there has been one FPE recall in Canada and Schneider engineers declined to comment on whether or not they'd made improvements or changes to the Canadian product) or due to differences in Canadian electrical installation practices or other factors. Candian Federal Pioineer Panels are discussed at http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/FederalPioneer.htm

FEDERAL PACIFIC ELECTRIC PANELS

Fires Waiting to Happen - article by DF - see http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpe.html

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

The ONLY source of claims that there is "no hazard" with this product have in my experience originated with folks with a serious conflict of interest: an attorney charged with protecting FPE's remains (the company is long out of business) and EXXON against a product liability suit, and secondarily, some real estate agents and some real estate sellers, wishing to avoid a possible safety issue being raised regarding a home have made the (unsupportable) claim that the product is not defective.

I am an independent building failures researcher who has studied this topic for many years and like active home inspectors, I'm required to be without conflict of interest in reporting (I have no financial relationship with the product nor with its replacement).

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Hi All,

Sorry everyone, Daniel put together some more information about the FPE Stab-Lok issue and had posted this earlier today. He meant for it to be in the electrical forum but posted it to the Latest News forum where it went to my cache. Thinking he meant it for the home page, I'd inadvertently posted it to the front page and locked it. I've just duplicated it here so folks can discuss the issue some more in this venue if they care to.

Thank you Daniel for all that you do toward eventual recognition of this thing we do as a true "profession."

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Last year I was asked to give a deposition on what I tell my clients when I find a FPE panel in a house. This was part of the class action suit here in NJ... 'Yacout v. Federal Pacific Electric et al'.. Docket L-2904/97.

About a month ago I e-mailed the lead attorney about the case and he stated it has been settled but the particluars are sealed.

I now have to take the part about 'a class action suit is pending' out of my macro.

Darren

www.aboutthehouseinspections.com

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Good timing here. I have an update to the house fire in Rutherford that resulted in a fatality just before Thanksgiving.

(If you just want the icing, skip straight to the last link...)

Originally the South Bergenite, which is the primary local paper for all of lower Bergen County, delivered free to every household in its service area, published this story about the fire.

Download Attachment: icon_adobe.gif FaultyWiringBlamed.pdf

99.4 KB

Having a bit more information on this then they did I found this a little irritating. So I found the article on their web site and wrote the following comment to the article.

Download Attachment: icon_adobe.gif Bergenite_Comment.pdf

189 KB

So, maybe I struck a cord with someone, or maybe it was in the works anyway but the following follow up article was published on the front page this past week. It's not a clear and straight condemnation of FPE, but having the Fire Marshal's from several towns in the area all puting it in this perspective is a good thing. And the Rutherford Fire Marshal finally comes out and blames the panel for two recent fires in the town.

Download Attachment: icon_adobe.gif Fire_marshal_warning.pdf

101.74 KB

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Hi Kyle,

Good going. However, with respect, it's "cite" not "site." Cite = Citation ; Site = Location. You've got to pay attention to those homonyms. Before submitting something like that to a paper, I suggest having someone else read it over first.

I have a habit of doing them unconsciously. I know the difference between their, there, they're but when I'm typing rapidly I tend to mix them up all the time. It seems the brain makes the finger type whatever is the most convenient.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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