Zinsco/GTE-Sylvania and Federal Pacific Electrical panels were very popular in the 1960s and ‘70s, and millions of households across America had one of these two units installed. Unfortunately, because of the serious hazards their electrical breakers posed, both of the products were recalled. Federal Pacific was also part of a class-action suit in 2002, because of the very dangerous situation their defects led to. However, there continue to be thousands of homes with electrical circuits that use these outdated, highly dangerous panels, and that includes units in small or big residential complexes as well.
If your network still includes a Zinsco/GTE-Sylvania or FPE panel, we strongly recommend changing it as soon as possible. The Zinsco breakers frequently melted to the bus bar – a metallic strip or bar placed within a panel in order to distribute high levels of energy from the outside electric meter to the main panel. As a consequence, the circuit breakers were no longer able to protect the system by shutting it down in case of a shortage or overloading, which led to melted wires and eventually to electrical fires.
Similarly, flawed FPE’s breakers fail to trip when necessary and are thus real fire and electrocution hazards. Without properly working circuit breakers, the electrical grid gets supercharged in the event of a malfunction (short circuit or overload) and causes overheating and fires. Another shortcoming of Federal Pacific panels is the risk of getting electrocuted while working on it, since the unit often sends current to the circuit even in the “off” position.