The Federal Pacific breaker panel recall is a critical issue that all homeowners should be aware of. These panels were used in many homes throughout the United States from the 1950s to the 1980s, and they can pose a serious safety hazard due to their propensity to overheat or even cause fires.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission never issued a Federal Pacific electric panel recall, citing budget issues and a lack of clear evidence.
However, they were aware of the safety problems and issued an official warning about these panels in 2012. However, unfortunately, many people remain unaware that these panels are unsafe or take them lightly.
Homeowners need to understand the dangers of these panels and take appropriate action if one is installed in their home.
CPSC Federal Pacific Breaker Panel Recall
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had to take a stance on the issue; as a result, they started an investigation.
However, in 1983, they had to close their investigation, which had been running for nearly two years.
They could not reach a clear conclusion and found it impossible to initiate a Federal Pacific Stab-Lok breaker recall.
Due to insufficient data and budget issues, the CPSC staff could not confirm or discard the claims regarding the safety of the FPE breakers.
Although the breakers failed to meet the UL (Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.) safety requirements, as we found out later, at the time, the CPSC couldn’t connect these failings with increased safety hazards in the home environment.
In 2012, an IEEE-published study and later various studies confirmed the fire hazards from FPE Stab-Lok equipment & called for CPSC to take appropriate action to caution the industry & consumers.
The Federal Pacific Electric Class Action Lawsuit
Due to the high circuit breaker failure rate to provide appropriate protection to homeowners in 2005, lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit against FPE.
The claimants hired an expert to conduct an extensive investigation of how FPE circuit breakers performed. The results were very concerning as their circuit breakers failed to trip at higher rates consistently across all tests compared to other UL-rated breakers.
As a result, the New Jersey State Court ruled that FPE “violated the Consumer Fraud Act because FPE knowingly and purposefully distributed circuit breakers which were not tested to meet UL standards….“
According to the New Jersey State Court, Federal Pacific Electric did commit testing fraud and a cover-up by claiming that their defective circuit breakers met UL standards, which was anything but genuine.
Today the Federal Pacific Electric Company is no longer in business.
Homeowners, pay attention! There’s no official Federal Pacific electrical panel recall from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). However, potential problems with arcing-induced fires make it wise to replace any aging FPE panel as soon as possible.
Although the CPSC is aware of evidence suggesting that certain Federal Pacific Stab-Lok panels generate hazardous risks, it has yet to validate these concerns and ascertain their impact on consumers.
Despite the precautionary measures, electricians, homeowners, home inspectors, and real estate agents are still encouraged to take added care when dealing with circuit breakers or fuses. Please be aware of any risks in handling this equipment to keep everyone safe from potential danger.
Safeguard your family and possessions by taking note of the following information:
- It’s essential to be aware of the power setup in your home; make sure you know which outlets and devices are connected to each circuit.
- If buying a house with a Federal Pacific panel, it’s important to have a qualified electrician perform a thorough electrical inspection to look for deficiencies like melting breakers or electrical burns.
- To prevent an electrical overload, never plug in too many appliances with high voltage requirements into a single circuit that cannot adequately support them. Many older homes have fewer electrical outlets, which leads to using power strips that can overload ungrounded wiring.
- To ensure a secure electrical wiring system, all local building regulations must be observed, and the circuit breakers or fuses used should be of an appropriate size for both the wiring and devices. Some older homes may also have aluminum wiring, which can magnify federal pacific electrical panel issues.
- If you experience any problems, immediately disconnect electric appliances and have them professionally examined. Don’t replace fuses or reset circuit breakers without finding the issue’s root. A burnt fuse or a tripped breaker usually indicates that something else could be wrong and might cause an overload on the circuit. It’s advisable to contact a qualified electrician for further assessment before reactivating your power supply again.
Read more on the CPSC investigation here.
Federal Pacific Breaker Panel Recall FAQs
You may have other questions about why a Federal Pacific breaker box recall never occurred and what that means for you.
Should Federal Pacific panels be replaced?
Yes, Federal Pacific panels should be replaced due to their high risk of failure and potential for dangerous electrical fires. Even if no problems currently exist, the Federal Pacific breakers can fail without warning and are responsible for approximately 2,800 house fires annually, costing millions of dollars in property damage.
Will a Federal Pacific panel pass an inspection?
No, a Federal Pacific panel will not pass inspection. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has warned against using Federal Pacific panels due to their known fire and electric shock risks.
Despite this, it’s worth noting that not all Federal Pacific panels are problematic. Most problems arise from the FPE Stab-Lok double-pole breakers and the early Federal Pacific panels with inferior aluminum bus bars. For more, see Will a Federal Pacific Panel Pass Inspection?
Are Federal Pacific panels illegal?
No, Federal Pacific panels are not illegal. These panels are grandfathered in, and no one can force you to replace them. However, many experts recommend that homeowners replace these faulty panels with a new model due to safety concerns.
How much does It cost to replace a Federal Pacific panel?
The Federal Pacific panel replacement cost will depend on the size and complexity of the replacement panel. The average US homeowner can expect to spend $2,700, with replacement costing between $1,600 and $4,000. A professional electrician should be consulted to get an estimate of the total cost.