There have been a number of high-profile corporate scandals in the last few years. Takata’s defective airbags being one, Volkswagon’s deception regarding emissions on some of their vehicles being another. One old scandal that a lot of people may not know about, though, and which may have a serious effect on their home, is the Federal Pacific breaker panel scandal.
From the 1950’s all the way through to 1990, a company called Federal Pacific Electric manufactured a lot of breaker boxes for homes across the country. Inside the breaker boxes were Stab-Lok switches, which were the source of the scandal. In the early 1980’s, it came to light that there was a major issue with circuit breakers that used stab-lok switches. Namely, the switches would sometimes not actually flip properly when they needed to. Considering that the entire purpose of a circuit breaker is to shut down a circuit that is in danger of overloading, you can see what a problem this was. That wasn’t the end of the problem, though.
In addition to the discovery that FPE-installed circuit breakers had the potential to fail when most needed, it was later revealed that the company actually knew this was the case. Yet, they continued to falsify information about whether or not the breaker panels they installed were up to code. This kicked off a number of lawsuits, but it didn’t result in a full recall because of the massive expense that would be involved. Federal Pacific Electric doesn’t exist anymore, but many of the breaker panels that they installed are still in hundreds of thousands of homes. It’s very important that you check to make sure that you don’t have an FPE breaker box, and that you have it replaced if you do.
How to Check
There are a number of easy-to-confirm signs that your breaker box is an FPE box. First, determine whether or not your home even falls into the age range where it would have possibly had an FPE breaker box installed in it. If the home is more recent than 20-25 years, you have nothing to worry about. If the home is old enough to fall in the range, go to your electrical panel and open it. Look for the words “Stab-Lok” or “Federal Pacific Electric” printed anywhere on the inside of the panel. If you can’t see anything like that, one final way to check is to look at the switches themselves. Stab-Lok switches all had a bright red stripe over the top of them, making the pretty recognizable. If you don’t find any of these indications, you should be fine. If you’re still worried about it, though, you can always have a professional electrician check it out for you.
Anderson Electric Group offers full electrical services in West Orange, NJ. If you need your Federal Electric breaker panel replaced, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our electricians. We’ll make sure that your electrical system is as safe as possible.