Consumer alert: Check your circuit breaker
Millions of Americans may be in danger from defective electrical equipment in their homes and businesses, yet may not be aware of the risk. If you reside in a home with electrical circuit breakers and panels installed in the mid-1950s through the early 1980s, have your equipment inspected and replaced, if necessary.
During that period, Federal Electric, later known as Federal Pacific Electric Co. (FPE), manufactured electrical distribution equipment, including STAB-LOK circuit breakers and panels. A circuit breaker is designed to cut off the flow of electricity when there is excessive electrical demand or a short circuit, also known as arcing. A defect in the FPE equipment could prevent this from happening, causing a fire.
While STAB-LOK breakers and panels are no longer manufactured, millions are estimated to remain in residences throughout the country. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission concluded an investigation of the equipment in 1983, but due to budgetary constraints the Commission chose not to undertake a full assessment of the STAB-LOK breakers. More information is available on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
Because of failure rates and questionable Underwriters Laboratories (UL) acceptance testing, almost every single insurance carriers’ Loss Control department recommends that a qualified and licensed electrician replace these circuit breakers and panels with new equipment. In many cases, these carriers won’t even entertain insuring homes or buildings that still have these breakers in operation.