Millions of homes built during 1950's through the mid 1980's have Federal Pacific Electric Stab-lok type (FPE Stab-lok®) circuit breakers in them.They are reported to be an electrical safety and fire hazard. A New Jersey State Court, in a class action lawsuit, ruled that the Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Company "violated the Consumer Fraud Act because FPE knowingly and purposefully distributed circuit breakers which were not tested to meet UL standards..."
Many times, the breakers will not trip (turn off) when they are shorted or overloaded. Many electricians will not even remove the electrical panel cover of an FPE for fear of the breakers falling out due to loose connections to the bus bars. FPE circuit breakers may unexpectedly turn off when the panel cover is removed. Various reports state that 30-60% or more of FPE circuit breakers are unreliable due to poor quality control and design problems. Some two-pole breakers only turn off one leg of the supplied power. The identified design flaws in FPE panels are not shared with other panels of similar age. It's highly recommended that you replace the FPE panel with a newer and safer brand before it's too late.
Homeowners, realtors and buyers need to be aware of the home inspection report if you have an FPE panel. Home inspectors list the Federal Pacific Electric panels and circuit breakers as a safety and fire hazard. "Buyers, request to remedy" will include replacement of the FPE equipment most of the time. The seller will say they never had a problem with the breakers tripping, therein lies the safety issue problem. They don't trip when overloaded.
All electrical work and electric panel replacements should be performed by a locally licensed electrician.
The best internet resources we have found regarding Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) electrical hazards and other related dangers of panels and breakers are here:
www.inspectapedia.com/fpe/fpepanel.htm and www.ismypanelsafe.com/fpe.aspx .
These are very informative web sites about the FPE electrical problems. This information may be helpful for the electrical contractors, home inspectors, real estate agents and homeowners alike concerning the FPE breakers and electric panels numerous safety issues.