Is the FP- Federal Pacific panel I have in good condition?
I get this question asked quite a bit. I have seen hundreds of these panels in homes and businesses throughout different cities in Texas. The homeowner, or potential buyer, or even the DIY person or the house flipper are always concerned when they see these panels. Rightfully so, they have a bad reputation. If your investment property was built between 1950-1990 more than likely you have a FP electrical panel with Stab-Lok circuit breakers. Hundreds of thousands of properties run the risk of fires everyday due to this brand. 1 out 4 Stab-Lok Federal Pacific breakers are defective and will not properly trip into the off position. An estimated 2,800 fires each year are caused by FP panel breaker malfunction.
An electrical breaker is designed to turn off (trip) when there is an overload or a short-circuit.
An overloaded circuit simply means there are too many things hooked up to that circuit. For example, an iron, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, TV and lights all on one circuit. If all of these loads are on at the same time it over loads the circuit breaker and it is supposed to trip to keep you safe. But what if it doesn’t trip? The breaker and the wires will overheat which is a major problem.
A short-circuit simply means there is contact between the hot wire (Usually black or red in a home) and the neutral wire (White wire) and it is supposed to trip the breaker instantly to protect you and your property. If it doesn’t trip, wherever the issue occurs whether it’s at the breaker or panel or at the load, it will cause arcing and eventually catch on fire. Basically when a breaker doesn’t trip, it acts like a welder and that’s no bueno!