Consumer alert: Check your circuit breaker July 21, 2015By Jim Yeater Defective circuit breakers from the mid-1950s to the early 1980s are still in many buildings and pose a fire hazard.Millions of Americans may be in danger from defective electrical equipment in their homes, 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, The Cincinnati Insurance Company’s Loss Control department recommends that a qualified and licensed electrician replace these circuit breakers and panels with new equipment.
More information about STAB-LOK equipment is available in this investigative report by NBC Bay Area Channel 11. For help in identifying STAB-LOK circuit breakers and panels, view the station’s video.