PushMatic GE Sylvania or Zinsco

PushMatic GE Sylvania or Zinsco

PushMatic GE Sylvania or Zinsco

(HawleyHomeInspectionsLLC.com) If you have a PushMatic GE Sylvania or Zinsco or Stab-Lok 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PushMatic GE Sylvania or Zinsco panels are outdated and should be replaced
Push Matic panel

Pushmatic breakers were manufactured from  the 1960’s to  the 1980’s and were among the early manufactures of circuit breakers.

  1. Pushmatic used a thermal break design (modern breakers use thermal and electromagnetic designs
  2. Pushmatic breakers may become hard to trip and reset as they age
  3. 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

  1. FPE breakers may become hard to trip and reset as they age
  2. FPE breakers may not disconnect when placed in the off position
  3. FPE breakers may not trip when an overcurrent situation occurs leading to fires
  4. 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 was bought out by GTE-Sylvania who continued manufacture under the GTE-Sylvania brand until the mid 1980’s

  1. Zinsco/GTE-Sylvania breakers have experienced arcing and overheating
  2. Zinsco/GTE-Sylvania breakers may fail to trip do to over current conditions
  3. Zinsco/GTE-Sylvania breakers may fail to disconnect when placed in the off position

Zinsco/GE-Sylvania panels usually  have multi colored breakers.  The best way to identify 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

PushMatic GE Sylvania or Zinsco and PushMatic panels are obsolete

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.

PushMatic GE Sylvania or Zinsco and Stab-Lok replacement breakers

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.


FPE Stab-Lok breaker boxes

FPE Stab-Lok breaker boxes

Federal Pacific Electric, FPE Stab-Lok Breaker boxes

(HawleyHomeInspectionsLLC.com) FPE Stab-Lok breaker boxes were widely used from the 1960’s thru the 1980’s, when they were finally taken off of the market.  Modern Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) circuit breakers are safe and widely used. FPE Stab-Lok  breaker boxes are a different matter.

Used widely in the 1960’s through the early 1980’s  Stab-Lok breakers are considered to be a fire and electrical safety hazard. These breakers have a history of not tripping in an over load situation causing fires. Even more importantly some breakers have failed to disconnect live circuits when turned to the off position, thus exposing service personnel to possible electrical shock.

In some cases double trip breakers (240 volt) have been found to be defective by not tripping and allowing one leg to remain energized. In short FPE “Stab-Lok” breakers and breaker boxes should be replaced as soon as possible.

Problems with the FPE Stab-Lok panels

FPE Stab-Lok breaker boxes have also been sited to have other problems separate from the breakers. Panel and panel bus failures including arcing and main panel failures have been common.  During laboratory testing  the FPE stab locks failed to trip up to 60% of the time.

Failure rates of competing breakers are estimated at 0.1%. Failures were so high the Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) put out a consumer alert concerning the problem. The CPSC stopped just short of issuing a recall basically due to a lack of funding.

Industry experts estimate 2000 fires are caused annually by FPE  stab-lok breakers and service panels. Experts also estimate there are 28 million FPE stab-lok breakers still in service in the US; even with a conservative 30% failure rate.

This leaves 9 million defective breakers in service. Most of the defective panels in our service area have been replaced however we still find them in service on a regular basis.

How to identify FPE Stab-Lok breaker boxes

You can sometimes determine if you have FPE Stab-Lok breakers by inspecting the outside cover of your breaker box. Look for the words FPE or Federal Pacific Electric or Stab-Lok these may also appear on the inside of the service panel.

Do not remove the service panel cover, everything you need to know is on the surface. If you suspect you have a Stab-Lok panel we recommend you contact a qualified electrician immediately.

Most electricians say  Stab-Lok breaker boxes should be taken out of service and replaced immediately. Replacing breakers is not an acceptable solution; the entire service box should be replaced.

This may sound extreme however when you consider the safety issues involved and the fact that most of these Service Panels are now 30 or more years old a service upgrade is probably in order anyway.

Avoid After Market Breakers

A Google search produced a number of sites that offered new and used Stab-Lok breakers. It is our personal view shared by most responsible electricians that Stab-Lok service panels should be replaced immediately.

A Google search will also produce a number of valuable sites to provide additional information on Stab-Lok breakers one such site is Inspectapedia.com, here is the direct link to the Stab-Lok section. http://inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpepanel.htm

for more information on common home inspection questions visit us at our website