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Posted: 7/31/2007 9:25:50 AM EDT
Well, since my garage sale netted me >$400 and a clean garage , I decided to route and re-route some electrical power and add some more oak cabinets.

Well, all went well until I needed to terminate the new line I ran into the electrical load center panel.

I went searching for a single pole 15 amp breaker, knowing that I need to know the breaker type and potentially the panel type.

My first stops were at the local ACE, Home Depot, and Lowes but to no availe. I could not find a Stab-Lok breaker or any Federal Pacific Electric Co product. This took me to the internet.

Lo and behold, the panel set up I have is prone to fires.

Web Site describing problems

I just bought the house last August and the home inspector said nothing about it. I will be calling him to at least let him know what he missed and to inform him of the potential problems with this product, if he does not already know.

Now, I am going to need to hire an electrician since l do not think this is a DIY project the city would look kindly on.

A fun DIY project made complicated. However, I suppose the find is fortunate considering the potential fire hazards.

Anyone else have experince with this same situation?
Link Posted: 7/31/2007 9:28:26 AM EDT
Not the same situ... but Get a contractor to do it, and see if your home warrenty or something will cover it.

Morcoth
Link Posted: 7/31/2007 2:10:35 PM EDT
See if you can get the home inspector to refund his inspection cost as that is usually all they are on the hook for. That is quite an oversight. Find someone who has a friend that is a licensed electrician and will work for cash. Oh yeay, if it is permitted, and it should be, plan to be without power for at least 2 days unless there happens to be an outside disconnect but based on the brand breaker and my guesstimated age I would assume not?
Link Posted: 7/31/2007 2:24:39 PM EDT
Should be a quick and easy fix for an electrician. Pull the meter, pull out old panel guts, install new panel guts and make the new cover work. Easy as pie.
Link Posted: 7/31/2007 5:26:04 PM EDT
I am a very capable DIY guy when it comes to cars, motorcycles, home improvement, ect.

This will be an excellent experience for me. I just need to find the right person.

The maint super at work is more than capable, but not certified. If I have to pull the meter a contractor it is.

I will folllow the advice regarding the home inspector. Thanks.

Link Posted: 8/1/2007 4:13:37 AM EDT
Not that I have done it before, , if you cut the lock hangtag with a set of dikes while pulling it apart you can remove the lock and re-install with no-one the wiser. Just make sure all breakers are off inside and that you have a fire extinguisher handy just in case.
Link Posted: 8/1/2007 4:23:53 AM EDT

I had to replace a Stab-Lok breaker a few months ago and had a hell of a time trying to find one. I finally did here:

www.finkles.com/fr_index.html

That site that ---oh teh noes!!!!!!!11 the stab-lok design was set up by someone who had filed a lawsuit. I searched a lot of electrical websites and almost everyone seems to think that it was blown WAY out of porportion, including my electrical supply house.



Link Posted: 8/1/2007 6:00:09 AM EDT
toddlerp
Federal Pacific is junk, pure and simple. In my 25 years as an electrician I have seen enough evidence to substantiate my belief.
When I did "side-work" I refused to work on FPE, except once. An old lady had no money, on an old 60 amp FPE service. To make a long story short she had no swamp cooler either. I replaced the service for her, with a GE one and did it for Jesus, as her situation touched my heart.
This is a good time for you to replace the electrical service, with some help. In AZ the power company will pull the meter for you wiht a permit to change out the service. You want to do it this way, have it inspected so it becomes a record on the residence. See if you can find some help. Or you may have to hire an electrician. I really ask that you consider getting rid of the FPE
My $.03
Learning
Link Posted: 8/1/2007 6:09:11 AM EDT
Yea, I will be replacing it.

I am the worry wart type when it comes to things like this. Just the fact that the parts are not readily available, is enough for me to change the set up.

I am at work today and will talk to a few people in the know. I would love to be able to do it myself (not contracted) legally because I enjoy working with stuff like this.

The seal tab on the meter has already been tampered with by someone. Hopefully the Electric Co does not give ME a hard time about it.

Bar none, I look forward to doing this the right way and learning a few things too.

Hey... I will make a pictorial of the progress and post with commentary like others here have done with their projects.
Link Posted: 8/1/2007 7:13:27 AM EDT
“Oh yeay, if it is permitted, and it should be, plan to be without power for at least 2 days”

Someone is working the hard way here.

For a panel replacement without upgrade, the SOP I have used for years is to do as much prep work as possible with power on.
Turn off all the breakers and the main.
Pull the meter. It is almost always legal to pull for maintenance and repair.
Remove the old panel.
Install the new panel and hook it up to the feed from the meter.
Install the breakers in the new panel for all the circuits, then start hooking things up.
Turn on the main, turn on the breakers one by one.

If you have an upgrade it is a little longer depending on who has to supply the weather head and drop. In Virginia the POCO hoes that part, along with the lateral.
They usually supply a meter base for free if you ask, then they get to choose the equipment.
I put the new base immediately beside the old base, run a new feed to the panel, and then jumper from the input side of the new base to the load side of the old.
Shorting bars and a cover are installed in the new base, then the meter is reconnected.
After final inspection the POCO comes and upgrades the drop, weather head, and lateral if needed.
Used to do two a weekend switching out fuses for breakers in older houses.
Typical power down time can be as short as 10-15 minutes if you now how to work in a hot box (NOT recommended for homeowners).
Link Posted: 8/2/2007 4:43:45 AM EDT
Brickeye, you are right. Your way would work great if only a panel upgrade is desired. I have the while the hood is up philosophy. Upgrade to 200 amp service with an new mast head,service wiring and exterior disconnect. This way if he wants to monkey in the panel later he isn't working on it while hot. That was the reason for the 2 day down time; Power company, inspector, etc.
Link Posted: 8/2/2007 7:33:54 AM EDT
Put the upgrade beside the old system and jump it to the new meter.
After everything is hooked t the new mast remove the old stuff.

There shouild never be any reason to be without power for more than a few hours.
Link Posted: 8/2/2007 8:13:39 PM EDT
I can and will prewire the replacement panel (100 amp). I have found out it is worth it. I can get it and the breakers for ~ $150, with a main disconnect inside the panel.

I will post pics of the replacement process...
Link Posted: 8/3/2007 8:17:12 AM EDT
That is a great idea.



Originally Posted By Dave15:
You'll make enough selling the old Stab-Loks to pay for the new stuff.
Link Posted: 8/3/2007 10:38:53 PM EDT
texas you say hugh?!!! where abouts? this sounds like my cup o tea. i am in the dfw area and am more than happy to do panel upgrades and code compliance issues, thats how i make ar money email?
Link Posted: 8/4/2007 10:09:23 AM EDT

Originally Posted By toddlerp:
That is a great idea.



Originally Posted By Dave15:
You'll make enough selling the old Stab-Loks to pay for the new stuff.


I added AC to my house about a dozen years ago.(Amish built)
Went to the local big box stores to get the needed breakers.
They laughed. Wound up ordering them (StabLoks) and they were pricey.

Then,I did a 25X30' addition a few year ago. Almost impossible to find more breakers.
And they are now VERY $$$.

Mentioned it to my Dad (longtime packrat) and he says, "I may have a few somewhere"
(he still has fuses). He goes out to one of the storage sheds and comes back with a coffee can.
I still needed one more, and a buddy gave me one. A friend who is an electrician suggested that I part out my current boxes and it will more than fund an upgrade.

Since I'm into another remodel, I think I may do just that.
Link Posted: 8/5/2007 11:04:34 AM EDT
I have a Fed Pacific panel and I'm going to replace it soon. Been putting it off for too long.

Supposedly, the state of NY ran tests on these and certain batches will fail to trip 40% of the time!

Home Depot sells replacement breakers for these panels, but they are like $30 each - compared to $5 for your run of the mill Square-D breakers.

Link Posted: 8/13/2007 7:57:16 PM EDT
My local HD does not sell them at all.

This little swap will cost me ~ $400, parts included. I have found a local certified Ele. to do it on the side.

Maybe I can get ~ $150 for my old parts. ~12 20 amp sgl pole breakers and some db pole breakers plus the panel. Someone out there must be looking for these.

Are these banned on eBay yet? It is a pre-ban configuration.


Originally Posted By PeteCO:
I have a Fed Pacific panel and I'm going to replace it soon. Been putting it off for too long.

Supposedly, the state of NY ran tests on these and certain batches will fail to trip 40% of the time!

Home Depot sells replacement breakers for these panels, but they are like $30 each - compared to $5 for your run of the mill Square-D breakers.

Link Posted: 8/13/2007 9:56:45 PM EDT
I refuse to do any major appliance install or repair on any house with Stab-Lok panels.

Replace it with Square D.
Link Posted: 8/13/2007 10:24:41 PM EDT
My house has 25' of romex hanging between the old barn and our back porch. The inspector conveniently forgot to check whether it was live and assumed it wasn't. I guess the light outside the barn and the fridge inside weren't enough evidence . I hit my head on it when I walk across the area. The panel in our basement looks like a 3-year-old wired it, with unattached wiring floating out in all directions. Our kitchen sink was plumbed such that it discharged down a hill into a large creek, as well as the washing machine.

So far we've had the house re-plumbed at high cost . Since we can't afford to update the 70-year-old house's wiring, I installed extra smoke detectors and placed fire extinguishers around the house. When we have the money, I've instructed my mom to have the house rewired before anything else.
Link Posted: 8/14/2007 2:03:03 PM EDT
I am going with a new Siemens 150 amp load center for $135.00.

Part number G1630B1150


Originally Posted By brentwal:
I refuse to do any major appliance install or repair on any house with Stab-Lok panels.

Replace it with Square D.
Link Posted: 8/14/2007 8:12:06 PM EDT
there is a reason why me and my buddys call them "welders". every time we go and look at a house with those panels we end up replacing the whole panel.
Link Posted: 8/15/2007 4:17:29 AM EDT
Why aren't you upgrading to 200 amp while you are at is? Most of the time it only involves changing the wire from the meter base to the panel.
Link Posted: 8/15/2007 5:34:42 AM EDT
My house is currently ~2100 sqft. I have 2 panels already.

I am upgrading the main panel in the garage to 150A. I have another panel on the other side of the house, very close to the meter, that was installed when the central air unit was installed, about 4 years ago. That is the only thing that panel runs.

I am getting ready to expand my home on both ends, and between the two panels, I have plenty of power not to mention tapping into a power source will be too easy.

The expansions will increase 2 bd rooms in size, create an office, expand 2 bathrooms in size, add a bedroom, expand the kitchen, add 1 more bedroom, add a 3/4 bathroom, and a family/ entertainment room. This will add just under 1000 sqft.

Link Posted: 8/15/2007 3:27:29 PM EDT
You are covered then. I was just making sure you were not being penny wise and pound foolish
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