buy generic cytotec online no prescriptionRecently, I have had a string of real estate inspections yield the infamous (in real estate circles, that is) federal pacific electrical boxes. Most experienced agents cringe at the thought of having a federal pacific box in a home they own or sell. In the industry, we tend to look at these boxes as a liability, no different than lead based paint used in homes prior to 1978 or Chinese defective drywall used in homes built from 2004-2009 (more on those for a different blog). The federal pacific boxes are being changed out slowly and we see less and less of them in Central Florida homes; however, prior to 1990, there were millions of these boxes installed in homes across the entire nation placing millions of Americans at risk everyday.

Most individuals know that if they plug an appliance into the wall it will work. Some know that you can only plug so much into an outlet before the circuit will short. Those that know both also know how to restore power to a room when it is lost by flipping the breaker.

So, what happens when you overburden an electrical circuit and the circuit does not short (the breaker does not flip)? The first thing that will happen is the overburdened breaker will smoke, potentially melt the plastic, and as a worst case scenario a fire will start.

Quotes

Federal Pacific circuit breakers in your home could put your home at risk for fire. It’s a fact that has been known for years, but there has never been a recall.

Federal Pacific circuit breakers in your home could put your home at risk for fire. It’s a fact that has been known for years, but there has never been a recall.How likely is it that your federal pacific box is faulty? Some studies have shown that as little as 25%  of the time to as much as 80% of federal pacific boxes fail to trip when necessary (Friedman). If they are so bad why haven’t they been recalled? The Consumer Product Safety Commission opted not to recall the product because they claimed that early estimates on the cost to gather the necessary data to assess whether or not the circuit breakers would present a risk to the public could cost millions (Consumer Product Safety Commission). The budget in 1983 for the Safety Commission was $34 million.  With the uncertainty of the results of a potentially costly investigation, the commission decided not to commit resources to the investigation of the circuit breakers. It seems unreasonable to me that there are potentially millions of Americans living in homes that are at risk of catching fire, but the decision to warn Americans is based on the cost to prove that what we have already proven is in fact true.

The commission advises that consumers take safety precautions, that you should “know your electrical circuit,” and that you should “know which outlets and products are connected to each circuit.” They offer other ways to take safety precautions that include not overloading any electrical circuits and to comply with building codes, disconnect if problems develop, investigate if a circuit does blow and my personal favorite consult a licensed electrician (not a plumber).

Speaking from personal experience, I am a careful person overall.  This past winter, I used a  small space heater instead of turning the heat on.  As soon as I had overloaded a circuit at my office, I knew that I could not add more to that circuit. How do you know though if you have too much on one circuit? You really have to know each and every plug in the house and to which breaker it is connected.  You also have to know how to calculate your amp usage. For those of you who are interested in figuring out if you will overload a circuit can  calculate by dividing the amount of wattage by the voltage. Theoretically, if you have a 1,000-watt hair dryer that runs on 120 volts. Divide that out and you’ll get ten amps of current draw. On a 20-amp circuit, that’s half of the circuit now do that for your entire house and don’t forget to control for others, if of course you don’t live alone.

buy generic cytotec online no prescription quick deliveryIn May 1982, Reliance Electric Company who had purchased the Federal Pacific Electric Company in 1979, filed their securities and exchange commissions quarterly report. In that report Reliance states that “Since the acquisition of Federal Pacific Electric Company from UV Industries in 1979, the Company has learned that the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listings on circuit breakers made by Federal Pacific had previously been obtained through the use of deceptive and improper practices.”

My Insurance agent, David Jones of Brightway Insurance, informed me that of the nearly 60 different insurance companies he does business with only three that will even consider insuring a property with a federal pacific box.

Recently, I had an agent tell me that it “wasn’t  that big of a deal” and that he had them in all of his rental properties around Orlando.  If you knowingly and willingly rent a property to a tenant with a federal pacific box and that house burns down as a result … whew, you are in for a doozy! As the adage goes, “A fool and their money will be quickly departed.”  On the flip side, if you are a homeowner that is informed of the federal pacific box at closing and you don’t change it, make sure that your insurance will cover you in the case of a total loss. That said, it seems rather clear to me that a circuit breaker that runs the risk of not breaking the flow of electricity when overloaded is quite the big deal.

In a nutshell, the Federal Pacific boxes have been known to cause fires.  The company has admittedly committed fraud for UL approval, but the consumer product safety commission won’t recall them because of the cost.  Insurance companies will not insure them, and you could be financially liable if you knowingly rent a property with one. Why take the risk that you could overburden a circuit and lose your house to a fire?

The smartest, safest way to avoid all these problems might be obvious but for the sake of not leaving you on the edge of a cliff with no safety gear…call a licensed electrician and have the box changed out.

I called Grassland Electrical, a Central Florida company I have used for some of my own investment properties and I asked them the cost of a new panel.  The cost can run from $900-$1,500 depending on the house. Whatever you do, change that panel!

In my research, I came across this short video, if you haven’t yet been convinced that you should change out your electrical panel watch this video:

References

“Commission Closes Investigation Of FPE Circuit Breakers And Provides Safety Information For Consumers.” . Consumer Product Safety Commission, 18 Feb. 2011. Web. . <http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Newsroom/News-Releases/1983/Commission-Closes-Investigation-Of-FPE-Circuit-Breakers-And-Provides-Safety-Information-For-Consumers/>.

Friedman, Scott. “Experts Warn of Fire Danger With Certain Electric Boxes.” . NBC, 2 May 2012. Web. . <http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Experts-Warn-of-Fire-Danger-With-Certain-Boxes-117060393.html>.

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