What can you tell me about Zinsco panels?
These panels are in hundreds of thousand of homes and businesses. Unlike the FP- Federal Pacific panel though, they are less dangerous but can still cause fires. Zinsco panels are also known as GTE- Sylvania panels. Zinsco Electric was sold to GTE- Sylvania in the early 70’s who continued to manufacture the original breaker-design. Both of these brands design flaw is that the circuit breakers connection to the bus bar becomes loose which causes arcing and overheating. The bus bar is the device that distributes power to all the breakers/ circuits in the electrical panel. Long term exposure to this heat can cause the breaker to weld itself to the bus bar making it impossible to remove. But far worse, it can cause the breakers contacts to weld together preventing the breaker from tripping causing a potential fire hazard. As the years pass by, electricians and home inspectors have found that these panels do not show any problems for many years, but these panels can overheat, melt, and arc due to the increase of electrical demands. When this occurs, it causes the components inside of breakers to burn out, which prevents the breaker from tripping. This leads to a significant fire hazard. Are you willing to take that risk?
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!
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