Everyone wants to feel safe in their home, but where do you start?
All branch circuits supplying electricity throughout your home start at the panel. This makes it critical that your home have good bones – the panel – and there are three panel recalls in play that you should know about.
One, Zinsco/Sylvania (Zinsco) panels. These panels were installed from the mid-1950s through the early 1980s. However, the Zinsco panels were made when simpler technology was in use, so problems were commonly found including breakers failing to trip. A breaker’s job is to trip thus stop a detected fault in the system from getting out of hand. In the case of an overload, if a breaker does not trip, your panel and breakers can overheat. These breakers were made with a type of aluminum that when overheated could melt onto the panel’s busbar and cause a home fire. These proven fire hazards resulted in a 2002 recall / lawsuit and cessation of installations. The easiest way to identify if you have a Zinsco panel is by the colorful breaker handles.
Two, Federal Pacific Stab-Lok (FPE) panels. FPE panels were installed in homes from the early 1950s into the 1980s, and like Zinsco panels were recalled in 2002 for fire hazards because the breakers have a high failure rate that led to fires. When originally installed, FPE panels were known for being a cheaper solution, so many contractors installed FPE panels throughout communities which resulted in lawsuits for “…knowingly and purposefully distributed circuit breakers which were not tested to meet UL standards”. You can identify a FPE panel from the red breaker handles, and words ‘STAB-LOK’ should appear on the panel cover.
Three, Schneider Electric (Schneider) panels. On June 16, 2022, Schneider Electric issued a recall on 1.4 million Square D QO Plug on Neutral Load Center panels. The problem with these recalled panels is their load center overheats and poses a fire hazard risk. With that being said, not all Schneider panels have been recalled. Below are resources that help identify if your Schneider panel is included in the recall.
- Identification based on the date code of the load center cover: https://download.schneider-electric.com/files?p_Doc_Ref=PRB-236759-FAQs&_ga=2.237337216.1032744152.1655135173-1433212429.1630508736
- Locate part number/catalog number and date code: https://www.se.com/us/en/faqs/FA274608/
- Video tutorial to locate part number / catalog number and plant code: https://www.se.com/us/en/faqs/FA274608/
If you have a Zinsco or FPE panel in your home, the good news is that Radle Electric’s estimates are free. If you have a Schneider panel on the recall list, please follow the above helpful links toward resolution.
Author: Daja Vega, Electrical Apprentice