3 Reasons Why Property Managers Should Care About Zinsco Panel Recall
The famous Zinsco panel recall happened decades ago, but its importance surfaces to this day. Zinsmeyer Co was founded by Emile Zinsmeyer soon after the stock market collapsed in 1929 and after it was sold to the heir, the company changed its name to Zinsco. In its time, Zinsco was regarded as an advanced, forward looking company due to the innovative technology it developed and used. Unfortunately, their electrical panels fell short when it came to the improvements required by the modern electrical codes. They couldn’t meet the new standards in the field, even after the company was acquired by GTE-Sylvania in 1973.
Nevertheless, it is rather difficult to find official evidence of a Zinsco panel recall, in spite of all the issues the product brings about and all the talk amongst the electrical community. There was no mention in the reports of the biggest authority in the area, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), not even regarding the rebranded GTE-Sylvania electric panels.
A deeper look shows that GTE-Sylvania was bought by Challenger Electrical Equipment and CPSC does have a record of the latter willingly recalling its circuit breakers due to faulty parts. It is not certain that the recalled item is the same as the initial Zinsco board, although specialists, such as home inspectors and electricians, believe so.
1. Zinsco Panels in Commercial Properties Pose Higher Danger
Residential complexes and other commercial properties are different from single family households when it comes to the number of power units they require. Thus, electrical panels must provide higher energy, since there are so many domestic consumers nowadays. Zinsco panels were designed at the beginning of the 20th century, a time with no computers, TV sets, washing machines or many of the appliances that make our day-to-day life so much easier. Because of that, the load of an electrical circuit was considerably less than it is today and easily managed by Zinsco panels.
The main concern with these breakers is a design shortcoming, meaning that they were built for simpler times and reduced consumption, so they fail to shut down the whole circuit in case of overloading. This can cause the panel to overheat, which in time deteriorates the board and, worst case scenario, to catch fire.
In residential complexes, the need for higher amperage electrical units is obvious. Many consumers, new technologies, such as charging stations for EVs and CCTV circuits, are only some of the reasons that makes removing old Zinsco panels a necessity.
The Homeowners’ Association (HOA) usually takes the lead in the upgrading process, submitting the required paperwork, explaining all the steps, as well as the benefits and basis for the change to all the residents.
In spite of being a lengthy process that could spread out over several months, many HOAs are now taking these steps because the Zinsco panel recall is making it difficult to find appropriate insurance. Upgrading all electrical panels, both inside the units and in the outdoor space may very well be required for a safer community.
2. Initial Damage Is Not Easily Noticeable
Zinsco electrical panel damages can be hard to notice even when looking inside the board, but this does not mean there isn’t a great possibility of hazards. Still, while all the parts may look fine and functioning, a closer and educated examination proves that, in high power circuits which connect numerous appliances and devices, Zinsco breakers melt to the bus bar and cannot be replaced. As a result, they will not trip when the circuit is overloaded and will not stop the flow of electricity. This eventually translates into fire and electrical shock hazards.
Of course, the more units there are in a residential complex, the higher the risk of these hazards occuring, because you have multiple consumers, each with their own electrical needs. And because some of the panels and meters are designated to individual units and others are clusters for each building or section of the complex, it becomes even more difficult to identify initial damage. If residents don’t notice or do not report any concerns, then these initial faults can go unnoticed and compound for years.
3. The Risks & Costs Can Be Higher For Commercial Properties
In order to reduce to maximum their liability and risks, insurance companies are very careful in regard to what they cover when insuring properties, especially commercial ones, as the damage claims can really escalate in that area. Since Zinsco has a well known history of electrical fires and shocks, it is quite difficult to find insurance policies that cover this brand.
Liability for property managers is beyond reasonable doubt if the risks people are exposed to can be reduced and even avoided altogether. This is the case of Zinsco electrical panels, where established hazards become an obstacle in purchasing insurance at a reasonable premium.
As the electrical system of a household has multiple safety hazards, home inspectors tend to check it with extra care and attention. The wires, outlets, switches and electrical panels are all under thorough scrutiny, because their proper functioning keeps the property safe.
In light of all the changes that have happened in the electrical code standards over time, outdated panels like Zinsco will for sure make it harder for property managers to find a proper insurance policy for the entire complex, let alone a cost-effective one.
4. The Process Can Be More Difficult The Longer You Wait
In our modern era, with smart gadgets and an increasing number of charging stations for electric cars, even in residential areas, electrical networks should be able to keep up with rising demands and supply higher power to more consumers. This is the reason more and more HOAs are really looking into updating the panels around their complexes, while laying the ground of the entire process: benefits, the duration of the undertaking, the risks of not doing it, etc.
The longer you wait, the more damage there is not to just one electrical panel in one unit, but to the entire network. Not to mention the fact that the longer you wait, the more expensive labor and parts will be, as well as adjacent expenses, such as insurance.
Residential complexes should look for an electrical company with certain capabilities when undertaking such an expansive project. Here’s what to expect from the process of removing the Zinsco panels and replacing them with adequate alternatives:
- Make sure the company has proper insurance: it’s not just about choosing a respectable, reliable electrical company, which employs licensed electricians and can handle the workload. As a property manager, you also need to make sure it provides accurate insurance coverage for the size and scope of work required for the project.
- Plan beforehand: an electrical contractor will have to be dispatched to thoroughly review the property and what it will take to bring your buildings up to code. Their plans ought to be submitted to the HOA, as well as to the City’s Department of Building and Safety, where the contractor will communicate directly with the city’s planner.
- Sign an agreement: during the next step, preliminary agreements will be reached, followed by an official proposal written up and agreed upon by both parties. This will include cost breakdowns of materials, labor and a payment plan with estimated dates for completion and due dates for payments.
- Monitor the progress: you should keep accurate records of what exactly has been done, which units are completed and where they are in the process, as your insurance agency will likely need to be updated regularly with this information. Thus, make sure the electrical contractor keeps a log and tracks all installations, the steps of the process, as well as booking inspections and follow-up meetings with the Department of Building and Safety in your city.
The right electrical upgrade can dramatically improve the value and appearance of any home or business. You’ll be amazed at what a difference the right electrical upgrade can make for your home or business. Make sure that when you select an electrical company to do the enhancement of your home and you have decided to take your enhancement to the level where you require an electrical upgrade that the technician at the company has a good working knowledge and the experience to properly guide you in this area.
When you decide to upgrade, our well-trained and certified electricians have all the experience and training needed to complete your electrical panel upgrade project from start to finish, with a minimum of fuss or disturbance. Please contact us right away at 310-800-2401