If you have a Pushmatic, Stab-Lok or Zinsco / GTE-Sylvania breaker box we recommend a qualified electrician evaluate it’s condition. Over time fuse panels, circuit breakers, and circuit panels will deteriorate, wear out and become obsolete. We are not aware of any official time span however there are signs to look for.
In our opinion any service panel over 50 years old should be considered for replacement. Houses built 50 or more years ago usually have 60 or 100 amp services and the load we put on these older components often exceeds their design capacity. Many houses built before 1970 did not have central air conditioning, microwaves weren’t even available, refrigerators were 18 cubic feet and no one had more than one television set. Fast forward to today’s requirements and we find 200 amp service is the most common with larger homes requiring 300 or 400 amp services.
We recommend fuse panels be replaced simply because technology has passed them by.
Here are some of the breaker panel manufacturers that have had problems over the years and require the attention of a qualified electrician.
- Pushmatic used a thermal break design (modern breakers use thermal and electromagnetic designs
- Pushmatic breakers may become hard to trip and reset as they age
- Pushmatic breakers also used an indicator that often broke leaving the status of the breaker in doubt
For more information on Pushmatic
Federal Pacific Electric
Federal Pacific Electric more commonly referred to as “FPE STAB-LOK” breakers were manufactured from the 1960’s to the 1980’s and have since gone out of business
- FPE breakers may become hard to trip and reset as they age
- FPE breakers may not disconnect when placed in the off position
- FPE breakers may not trip when an overcurrent situation occurs leading to fires
- Early FPE panels were crowded and compact leading to issues of over heating
Stab-Lok panels may be identified by the red tipped breakers that operate outboard of the panel. For more information on Stab-Lok https://structuretech1.com/fpe-stab-lok-panels-are-hazardous/
- Zinsco/GTE-Sylvania breakers have experienced arcing and overheating
- Zinsco/GTE-Sylvania breakers may fail to trip do to over current conditions
- Zinsco/GTE-Sylvania breakers may fail to disconnect when placed in the off position
Zinsco/GE-Sylvania panels usaully have multi colored breakers. The best way to identifiy the panel is to look for a name either stamped or printed on the outside or inside of the hinged access door.
for additional information on Zinsco panels http://www.ismypanelsafe.com/zinsco.php
One problem that seems common to all three brands of breakers and panels is the use of an aluminum buss for mounting the breakers in the panel itself. Changes to the alloys used have improved the performance of modern panels however these three were not upgraded and are considered to be dangerous and a general consensus is that replacement is the best option.
In all fairness not all breaker panels manufactured by these companies were defective. If you suspect you have one of these panels we recommend having them inspected by a qualified electrician familiar with the specific panels and their problems.
Replacement breakers are available on line for all three panels however these are usually new/old stock or imported knock offs. Before you invest any money in replacement breakers we strongly recommend you consult with a qualified electrician about replacing the out dated and possibly dangerous panel.