On a recent home inspection in Vista, Ca, I came across a Federal Pacific electrical panel. Federal Pacific circuit breakers are a potential fire risk. Although they are a fire risk, there has never been an official recall.
Federal Pacific “Stab-Lok” breakers were installed in homes constructed prior to 1990. The concern is that there has been independent testing confirming that many of the Federal Pacific Stab-Lok breakers do not trip, leading to the potential for a surge of electricity to overheat the wire, melt the insulation and start a house fire. This is precisely the condition that the installation of circuit breakers is designed to prevent.
The issue of defective Federal Pacific circuit panels goes beyond mere mishap. It was proven that Federal Pacific cheated during UL lab testing in order to fraudulently gain UL certification. There was an investigation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The company is no longer in existence.
In the photo you can see what a Federal Pacific circuit panel and breakers look like. You can also see a neutral wire with melted insulation, indicating overheating in the wire. Without getting more involved, it’s difficult to determine precisely what the problem was. An electrician will need to evaluate any Federal Pacific electrical panel for potential replacement.
Our home inspections include a thorough evaluation of the electrical panel and you can find out if your potential home has a Federal Pacific electrical panel and have a better idea of your options and what you’re getting into. If you have any questions, please call call Red Rock Home Inspections at 760-675-5463.