Replace Federal Pacific Panel?

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  #1  
Old 05-27-04, 06:08 AM
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Question Replace Federal Pacific Panel?

My house was built in 1976 and has a Federal Pacific panel with no master cut-off. The home inspector said those panels were known to have problems with the breakers not flipping completely and possibly causing fires, but an electrical contractor inspected the panel and said everything was fine, so I bought the house.

As I've done reading on the Web (http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpepanel.htm), I wonder if it's wise to keep this panel. Is it really safe? My neighbor (who rents) is an electrician's assistant and said if he owned the house he would replace his panel (which is identical to mine). I've had it priced and it would cost about $900 to have it replaced. All advice appreciated.
 
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Old 05-27-04, 07:37 AM
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Do you intend to add new circuits to your house? If you plan on adding circuits in the future, and there is no room for them then you will eventually have to replace it anyway. Or at least you would want to replace it rather than adding circuits to this panel.

$900 sounds like a reasonable price for peace of mind.
 
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Old 05-27-04, 09:17 AM
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The city I live in has hundreds of houses with FP panels. As a volunteer fireman for many years (now retired from the force), I saw a number of strange occurances that were unexplainable until I ran accross information on the web about FP. The occurances ranged from total losses that we knew started in the breaker panel, but couldn't explain why, to electric furnace shorts that caused a ton of smoke, obvious electrical damage and never tripped the breaker. My captain once began dissasembling a furnace that he assumed had tripped the breaker, obviose short to ground, only to find that it was still live. Fortunately he noticed the glow of the heating coils before he touched anything live. Since we had no idea at the time, we never pulled breakers out and had them analyzed so there is no proof that the FP breaker panels were to blame for anything, but I wouldn't have one for very long. Shop around and get some more estimates. Ask if there is anything you can do yourself to lower the price.

Doug M.
 
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Old 05-27-04, 08:10 PM
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It would be in youre best interest to replace the panel {servicecable,meter,etc if necessary also}.The cost of purchasing breakers to add new circuits is also a reason,I think for a 1p 20a Federal is around $25./$35.
 
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Old 05-27-04, 09:03 PM
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Thumbs up It's outta here!

Thanks a lot for the advice. When dougm mentioned the furnace shorts, I remembered that a few months ago a fuse blew in a separate fuse box that is between the FP panel and my furnace. The appliance guy that came out said it was a redundant fuse box and I didn't need it with the breakers in the main panel, but I told him to leave it because it made me feel safer.

I will definately replace the FP panel; a friend has told me that a 200 amp Square D panel would be the thing to get, and also told me that there are 2 wires connected to one of the 15 amp breakers, so I need to get this thing replaced and everything properly wired ASAP.

Thanks for your help.

P.S. I hope to get a hot tub in the next year or two; what additional connections are needed for something like that?
 
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Old 05-28-04, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by ampz
It would be in youre best interest to replace the panel {servicecable,meter,etc if necessary also}.The cost of purchasing breakers to add new circuits is also a reason,I think for a 1p 20a Federal is around $25./$35.
How many you want. I can buy new for less than $10 CDN. I can make a good profit if I could get that much US$ for them.
 
  #7  
Old 05-28-04, 09:59 AM
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A hot tub usually requires around a 50 amp. 220V breaker. Two slots in the panel. If your FP box is anything like the ones I've seen (and the 1 I had in one of my previous houses) the only place to add is under the 60 amp "main lights". I did install a hot tub at that house, but it had the capability of limiting it's power use to 30 amps (couldn't run the heater and the full speed pump at the same time) so I put it under the 60 amp "main lights" section and never had a problem. My dryer was also under that 60 amp main and I was usually careful not to run the tub heater and the dryer at the same time, figuring that with all my lights and other electronics would put way too much demand on the circuit, but the couple of times I forgot, nothing tripped. I was very surprised at the time. Knowing what I know now I'm not surprised at all. Now I just fee Lucky.

Doug M.
 
  #8  
Old 05-28-04, 06:45 PM
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Yeah joe everthings more expensive south of the border prescription drugs, eletrical equipment you name it, Its pahtetic.
 
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