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Your Electrical Panel a Fire Hazard?

Your Electrical Panel a Fire Hazard?

nipperelectric-working-on-panel-boxEveryone wants their home or office to be safe and welcoming. However, outdated or faulty equipment can put you and your loved ones at great risk for electrical fires. One of the most common issues are outdated or recalled electrical panels.

With 25+ years of experience, Nipper Electric knows how to spot a faulty equipment and repair or replace your panel. We love providing our friends and neighbor with top electrical services in the Virginia Beach area. To keep you safe, we have a list of the top dangerous electrical panels.

Federal Pacific Electric- From around 1950 to the 1980s, these electrical panels were extremely popular panels in the U.S. Unfortunately, Federal Pacific panels are extremely dangerous.

When overloaded, the circuits in these breakers fail to trip or shut off, causing numerous fires across the country. Even worse, there have been many reports that circuits stay on even when they are manually shut off. This means dangerous currents of electricity are still running through the wires, even after the breaker has been switched off, creating dangerous opportunities for electrocution.

What to Do: If you have a home built between the years of 1950 and 1990, check your electrical panel. If you see “Federal Pacific Electric” written on the cover of your breaker box, or if the name “Stab-Loc” is written inside the box, call your trusted electrician in Virginia Beach right away.

GTE Sylvania/Zinsco Panels- During the 1970s, GTE Sylvania Zinsco panels were popular for use in the construction of homes. Unfortunately, these panels come with a fatal flaw. Circuit breakers in the panel would melt to the main bus. This makes it impossible for the breakers to trip. Any type of overload or short would cause the wires to melt and cause electrical fires.

outside-electrical-panel-workWhat to Do: Have an experienced electrician in Virginia Beach inspect your box. While many GTE Sylvania boxes are safe and very reliable, the Zinsco product of panels cause these big issues. They can be difficult to identify. The skilled and knowledgeable electricians at Nipper Electric can quickly and easily identify these panels and get them removed and replaced.

Modified Fuse Boxes: While fuse boxes aren’t usually dangerous, modifications made to update them can create electrical hazards. Here are a few to look out for:

  • Using the Wrong Fuse- Your wires and fuses need to have equal loads to ratings. This means if you have a wire that is rated for 15 amps, it needs a fuse that carries 15 amps. Replacing a 15 amp fuse with a larger fuse, like 20 amps, will work temporarily, however it is a dangerous switch. Your wires will overheat and cause an electrical fire.
  • Replacing a Fuse with Metal- Sometimes homeowners use metal objects, like copper pennies to replace fuses. Instead of solving the problem, they create a bigger problem. Your wires are now able to pull much bigger loads of electricity and create a fire.
  • Overloaded Circuits- Most fuse boxes have fewer circuits, this means they can supply less electricity to your home. Often homeowners will try to use too many devices or appliances in one plug. This blows the fuse and could overload your wires, putting you at risk for an electrical fire.

What to Do: If you have a fuse box and you’re not sure if you have these problems, your electrician can come by for a quick inspection. We can check your fuse box for any incorrect fuses, overloading or faulty wiring, so you can stay safe.

electrical-panel-boxSplit Bus Panels-  Most of the today’s panels have a single metal bus bar. In this case, electricity enters the panels and goes through your main breaker to the single bus bar. This bar connects to each circuit breaker and brings power throughout your home. This means you can easily shut off power to your entire home, just by turning off the main breaker.

With a split bus panel, there are two buses but no main disconnect. There can be as many as 6 different breakers that are each labeled main. One breaker will handle half of the circuits while the other handles the other half.

While split bus panels were not initially unsafe, they are so outdated that they haven’t been used for over 30 years. They also don’t follow current electrical codes, which doesn’t allow for multiple disconnects. The age and the multiple disconnects often create issues with circuits not tripping properly.

What to Do: Check your electrical box. Are the breakers split into two groups? Is there one disconnect breaker or many? If you see more than one group of disconnect breakers and/or your breaker is split into two groups, it is time to update your panel.

An unsafe or outdated panel is a serious fire hazard. Do not hesitate to contact Nipper Electric. Your safety is very important to us. We can check your panel and make sure it is up to code and work safely. Call us today at 757-842-1710 or make an appointment online. We are here to serve you with safe, reliable work at reasonable prices. Protect your home from electrical fires before it is too late.