Federal Pacific Electric FPE panels are one of the most popular electrical panels in households today. They were installed in many homes and businesses for at least a 30-year period beginning in the 1950s. Unfortunately, FPE panels have been known to cause fires resulting in property damage and in some cases, even death. If your home or building was built back then, it’s likely you have an original FPE panel that may need replacing.
Reasons for FPE Panel Problems
The breakers were possibly miscalibrated on the high side when they were purchased from Federal Electric Products way back around 1960. Because of this, any form of calibration wouldn’t work correctly.
A mechanism for tripping the circuit can shut down the breaker when a single pole trips once. This means that in case of an overload, another breaker isn’t going to trip because the mechanism already did that one time already. The failure rate for tripping becomes high and quite risky.
The original FPE panel mounting isn’t as secure as it could be. The busbar screws may be too small to stabilize the panel longterm. When this occurs, the system can overheat and a fire may ensue.
What Signs to Look for in Your FPE Panel
As a homeowner or business, there are two things you can look for that will alert you that something is wrong in your FTE panel.
If you hear buzzing noises, this means that the electricity is overheating. Call an electrician as soon as possible. Your entire FTE panel may need replacing.
Very Hot Breakers
Hot breakers are another FPE panel problem indication. Get close, but know that you risk getting burned if you touch a very hot breaker. Instead, be on alert for a burning smell around the panel. Call an electrician. If one breaker has an issue, the FPE panel itself may not last much longer. The expert electrician will be able to determine that more accurately because of the other concerns with FPE panels that should be looked into as well.
Have your panel checked for undersized screws
Leave this to a professional because all of the breakers including the main circuit breaker must be turned off too. Special care should be taken to remove the dead front part of the panel where the slots are for the breakers. The electrician will look for undersized screw connections. When contacts for the busbar are loose due to short screws, they should be replaced to avoid fire hazards.
Replacement FPE Options
Retrofitting an FPE typically costs twice as much as a new panel. Plus replacing breakers instead of the panel is dangerous because some design flaws won’t go away with FPEs.
As you can tell, checking your FTE panel thoroughly is not something you want to undertake yourself. You’ll need an expert electrician to identify the problem and advise you on the best solution that meets your needs.
Don’t take chances with your safety when it comes to electrical wiring. Our skilled electricians are licensed, bonded, and insured. In addition, we specialize in both residential and commercial Federal Pacific Electric FPE Panel Replacement projects and many other electrical services. Customer satisfaction is guaranteed! Contact Gorman Lighting at 505-989-3564 or fill out our handy online form today to schedule a quote!