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Mike Lamb

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Originally posted by Mike Lamb

Are all Zinsco panels and circuit breakers under suspicion of failure? This 1969 Zinsco panel had breakers labeled UND LAB INC. if I read correctly.

Part of the problem with Zinsco panels was the design of the bus bars and the way that they connected to the breakers. The panel in your picture has the same troubling design.

There are a lot of stories about unreliable Zinsco breakers, but no solid information.

Personally, I wouldn't have one in my house.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Jim has it right. Look at the photo and the way those breakers are sagging. The loose connection to the buses makes them arc and overheat and that melts down the breaker casings. It doesn't happen with every single one but it happens with enough of them that they've earned a reputation with electricians as being a piece of crap. I used to live right across the street from a big electrical contractor. A couple of years ago when I'd talked to them about Zinsco panels, they told me that they'd recently replaced over 80 of them in a condo complex and that a "significant number" of them had problems. The guy didn't quantify exactly what that "significant number" was but it was clear that he and his guys consider them crappy panels.



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I recently inspected an 1830's Greek Revival that had a Zinsco. When I removed the dead front cover, 3 breakers fell out and I tripped the main to "off" trying to catch everything. I then dropped the deadfront and lost two of the screws behind the dresser below the panel. When I moved the dresser, two of the legs fell off and when I set it down the vase with dried flowers on top of the dresser, tipped over.

I hate Zinsco panels. A lot.

Every clock, microwave and DVD player was flashing when I left. I whistled nonchalantly and averted all eye contact as I picked up my business card from the kitchen table.

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