Conflicting information re: Zinsco panel

Reply

  #1  
Old 11-22-13, 03:06 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 10
Conflicting information re: Zinsco panel

Hello,

I'm purchasing a home (hopefully) which currently has a Zinsco panel. My home inspector flagged it and we asked the seller to install a new one. They got a licensed electrician's report saying it is not necessary to replace the panel because it is in good condition. (See image below.)

Name:  zinsco.jpg
Views: 812
Size:  30.8 KB

I've talked to two different county electrical inspectors and several electricians. They all agree that Zinsco panels should be replaced (which is clear from online research as well), but one of the inspectors and a couple electricians say it's not an urgent issue. The inspector said if it was his house, he'd keep an eye on it and replace it when a breaker blew rather than replacing the breaker, but not worry about it before then.

I'm frustrated by the conflicting information and was hoping for some good advice here. Are the ones saying I should replace immediately just covering their backside or hoping I'll hire them, or is this genuinely a safety issue that needs to be addressed? (And if does need to be done now, any ideas about what to do about the electrician's report saying it's not an issue? The sellers are relying on that to say they won't fix it.)

Thank you.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 11-22-13, 03:29 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,399
I personally would not place any faith in someone that so badly mangled the word obsolescence in a written report.

I worked with Zinsco products some forty-plus years ago, I didn't like them at the time and I still don't like them. It does absolutely no good to "keep an eye on them" as they simply fail to trip on overloads. Unless one were to install ammeters on every branch circuit and then monitor the meters 24/7 you would never know if the circuit was overloaded.

Zinsco circuit breakers have a habit of "freezing" onto the bus bars to the point that you cannot remove them. It doesn't matter if replacement CBs are available if you can't remove the old ones.

I strongly suggest that the Zinsco panel be replaced as soon as possible.
 
  #3  
Old 11-22-13, 04:19 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,043
Zinsco Sylvania Kearney Electrical Panel and Circuit Breaker Hazards, Failures, Inspection, Detection, Repair, Replacement - Sylvania Zinsco circuit breakers and panel hazards

Types of Zinsco Panel and Circuit Breaker Failures

Circuit breakers may fail to trip in response to an overcurrent condition. This is a fire and shock risk.
Circuit breakers may "blow out" the side casing of the device in an electrical "arc explosion"
Circuit breakers may fail to drop power even when they are switched off [remains to be verified--DF] - that is, the breaker may appear to be switched to the "off" position but internally it may still be conducting power to the circuit.
Read more at: Failure Mechanisms for Zinsco or Zinsco-Sylvania Electric Panels and Circuit Breakers & Zinsco failure photographs
 
  #4  
Old 11-22-13, 04:31 PM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: WI/MN
Posts: 18,758
I don't think the real issue here is whether the panel should be replaced, it's what are the current owners willing to do. If they won't replace it, will they give you some credit for that? If not, are you still willing to buy knowing you should replace the panel?
 
  #5  
Old 11-22-13, 05:52 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 10
I don't think the real issue here is whether the panel should be replaced, it's what are the current owners willing to do. If they won't replace it, will they give you some credit for that? If not, are you still willing to buy knowing you should replace the panel?
Yeah, the problem is that the repair looks like it will be $1,500+, but the seller is saying it's not necessary so they don't want to give a credit or otherwise deal with it. If I could live in the home for a year or two and then pay to get the panel replaced without it being super risky, I'd consider it, but adding this repair when I'm already just about broke from the down payment, closing costs, etc. has me worried.

Mostly I just wanted to be sure I had an understanding of how risky these things are. The link from ray2047 was helpful for that (thanks!). However, I just spoke with the electrician who actually wrote the report I posted above and he made the point that he has worked on thousands of homes that have these panels and are fine, which is what the county inspector said too when I talked with him. It's hard to tell how dangerous they really are. Anyway, thanks for the advice, y'all. Any other useful information would be appreciated as well.
 
  #6  
Old 11-22-13, 10:47 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,399
What do these people mean when they state "they are fine"? Most circuits are never loaded to a point even close to the trip point of a working circuit breaker so the mere fact that none of the CBs in the panel has ever tripped means absolutely nothing. I have lived in my house for thirteen years and I have only once tripped a circuit breaker, and that WAS on an overload.

The fewer the number of branch circuits the greater the chance of overloading a circuit. Do you REALLY want to take a chance on pulling a sustained 40 ampere load on #12 wiring just because the CB of a manufacturer KNOWN to have problems fails to trip on the overload?

Remember, EVERYTHING is subject to negotiation. Offer to pay half (or whatever you are comfortable with) of the $1,500 upgrade price and see what happens. Maybe the owners will be more amenable to paying a part of the closing costs instead of an outright repair. Lots of give-and-take possible.
 
  #7  
Old 11-23-13, 06:59 AM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,968
Who hired the "electrician"? Since it was an opinion on his part, a little greasing of the gears makes the train run better. I would spend a few dollars and have your own electricians come in and counter his claim regarding replacement. Do it quickly. Have the inspectors you talked to give you their "opinions", although it won't carry as much weight as the electricians'.

Bottom line. You will be in a position to replace this panel, whether it is now or a few years from now. Who is going to pay for it? It is questionable at best. If you don't get front money to get it changed, then it will fall completely on you and your pocketbook in 5 years.

It's a buyer's market right now, anyway, still in most parts of the country. You have the leverage.
 
  #8  
Old 11-23-13, 07:36 AM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 12,277
If I could live in the home for a year or two and then pay to get the panel replaced without it being super risky, I'd consider it,
The house has been lived in all these years with the existing panel with no issues. If you really like the house, don't let the panel be a sticking point.
 
  #9  
Old 11-23-13, 07:51 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,383
was hoping for some good advice here.
I'd ask for the sellers to replace it or look for another house. Zinsco panels are a definite hazard. I have seen many of these Zinsco panels in homes wired with aluminum wire which is another good point. Does this house have aluminum wiring too?
 
  #10  
Old 11-24-13, 07:54 AM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,587
The big issue with that panel is the contact area where the breaker connects can be poor and the bus can be damaged and become pitted. This will lead to excess heat and failures.

Pulling the breakers and examining the bus is the only way to check for any issues. Regardless I would look to replace the panel at some point.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes