If Zinsco electrical panels are so widely considered a fire hazard, there should be some official data on this. If the electrician finds no defects, we cannot enforce a Zinsco panel to be changed. USA Zinsco brand was discontinued due to the problems they had. There are other types of electrical panels considered unsafe and hazardous or just plain outdated and should always be upgraded to a better panel. Zinsco panels fall in a very tricky category.eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'homeinspectioninsider_com-leader-1','ezslot_7',162,'0','0'])); Just like the infamous Federal Pacific panels, they too are officially considered okay. If there are any burned areas of the panel or breaker, damaged wiring, or other wear and tear types. As a Certified Master Inspector in the field, I make decisions daily based on the information in front of me. 3. Of course, even the newer panels and breakers we have today can fail. Or you might receive a grace period during which you need to change your whole panel. Back off the deal with his earnest money. When it comes to home safety, electrical panels are the first things that need to be inspected. They have the same electrical issues as Zinsco panels Challenger – Challenger panels built and installed in the 1980s and 1990s were found to have an issue where they were overheating under normal conditions at the metal “bus bar.” • The connection between the breakers and the bus bar is often not solid. The Zinsco company was sold to GTE-Sylvania in 1973, which continued to manufacture the Zinsco panel design under the name of Sylvania-Zinsco. Even if tested, we may never know if they will work properly or not in the future. If you have just installed a floating floor in your house or you have made a decision to install one, one of the questions at the back of your mind might be, "should floating floors... Do you have a discolored composite deck? Based on the history of Zinsco, home inspectors can only recommend that an electrician evaluate the panel and breakers. • Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors? What is the right electric wire size for a circuit breaker in an electric panel? What is the maximum allowed height of a circuit breaker (OCPD) above the floor? 2. Electrical panels receive and then distribute the electricity throughout the circuits in our home through electrical breakers, home inspector, I feel like it is essential to stress always having a home inspection, Are Federal Pacific Electric Breaker Panels Safe? But I will still recommend having the electrical panel inspected by a certified electrician for further advice. Replacing the Zinsco panel and breakers with a newer product from a reputable manufacturer is the best way to make sure your home and family are safe. It can even be a deal-breaker in some cases. Do You Have to Replace a Zinsco Panel? So from a legal standpoint, they are considered okay. Here is What Makes Zinsco and Sylvania Electric Panels Unsafe. To meet current local electrical building codes in your area, most Zinsco breaker panel replacements will require: Unfortunately, the high cost for changing a Zinsco panel often discourages homeowners from replacing the panel, but so can be the cost for not doing it. In addition, Zinsco panels typically have the logo at the top of the panel. We cannot ignore the possible dangers of having a Zinsco panel. If you have a property with a Zinsco panel installed, this might lead to your insurance coverage being canceled. • What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker? The first time I tried to remove Zinsco circuit breakers from a panel box, every circuit breaker in the panel box was tack welded to the power bus. HomeInspectionInsider.com also participates in affiliate programs with other affiliate sites. However, they can still be found in older homes and properties built before 1990.eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'homeinspectioninsider_com-large-mobile-banner-2','ezslot_9',163,'0','0'])); When Sylvania purchased Zinsco, they started labeling the panels under the Sylvania name. Upon exploring its com-ponents, electricians find that breakers cannot be re-moved from the buss bar. A principal Zinsco circuit breaker (or Sylvania or GTE-Sylvania or Kearney electrical panel using this circuit breaker) point of failure appears to be at the point of contact where the circuit breaker contacts clip onto the electrical panel bus, combined with the use of an aluminum electrical panel … Even if you try and remove the cover, this is not going to help. Every home inspector or certified electrician knows that when they find a Zinsco panel, they find themselves in a difficult situation. Again, here are the major issues with Zinsco Panels: Certain components of the panel contain aluminum; The connection between the breakers and bus bar is not solid; Bus bar corrodes easily; Breakers may appear to be off, yet internally the panel may be conducting power What Is the Cost of Replacing a Zinsco Electrical Panel? During any home inspection, the electrical panels are the first things to be inspected and assessed. Due to the type of aluminum used, Zinsco breakers can melt and fuse to the bus bar. Although Sylvania-Zinsco panels should have a safety examination, the standard recommendation for Stab-Lok panels is replacement. Installation of the main service disconnect. I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. 1. 2) Zinsco panels may have significant design flaws. Electrical breakers serve as a gatekeeper protecting our electrical circuits from power surges and short circuits. Challenger Electrical Panel. Can you add circuit breakers by different manufacturers to an electric panel if they fit? • What is the life expectancy of a circuit breaker? As far as panel placement is concerned, you can't have them in a clothing closet or bathroom, but if you were to isolate the "utility closet" you should probably be okay. Extending the service mast and weather head above the roofline or moving the service feed underground. However, the replacement of the panel often is accompanied by other repairs to meet current electrical codes. My circuit breaker won't reset. As such, your home inspector will advise on hiring a certified specialist to check the condition of the panel, wiring, and breakers. However, not everything can be thoroughly evaluated, and in some cases, they need to be check by an electrician. Zinsco Potential Problems A common Zinsco panel. • What is the difference between "grounded" and "grounding" electrical conductors? There are different kinds of short circuits. Zinsco panels and breakers don't make good contact with the bus bar and cause heatand melting. The Zinsco brand is no longer in existence, but many homes still have their originally installed Zinsco electrical panel. It’s a … link to Can You Paint or Stain Composite Decks? Eventually, the panel, breakers, and wiring will overheat and catch fire. Both types of the panel can appear to be working fine for years but can either fail under new household conditions, or have damage that poses a danger, but it is not apparent without taking the panel apart and individually testing each breaker. With regular maintenance, the electrical panels we have today can be expected to work properly for at least a few decades. Related Read: 3 Signs You Need a New Electrical Panel. The breakers inside the panel may even appear to be off but meanwhile and still in … HomeInspectionInsider.com is owned and operated by Hubert Miles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. The danger comes from the high temperature that is generated by electricity. Will a Zinsco Electrical Panel Pass Home Inspection? What is the life expectancy of a circuit breaker? And that should always be considered during the purchase of a home. Throughout the 1970s, it was not uncommon to have a Zinsco or GTE-Sylvania electrical panel installed in homes. If you Google search “Zinsco & defect” you will find many, many pages of horrific stories regarding the Zinsco electrical panel failures. Replacing a Zinsco panel will vary depending on its size, amperage, and location. Found a Zinsco panel in a “condo” yesterday… actually was built as an a rental apartment, then turned “Condo” in 2006 - originally built in 1973. Breakers are all loose, pushed down, but no heat buildup, no hot spots, and no other signs of problem yet! What is the maximum number of circuit breakers allowed in an electric panel? Many fly-by-night electricians or DIY homeowners installed replacement installations with short cuts to save money that result in more electrical safety problems than they started with. Zinsco electrical panels. Zinsco panels were frequently labeled with the name Magnatrip. Zinsco Panels. While Zinsco too was part of a major recall and lawsuit, the company no longer exists. If you have a Zinsco panel and want to replace it, you need to consult with a licensed electrician to get a quote. Can You Choose Not to Change the Panel and the Breakers? These panels normally have a Zinsco sticker at the top and color-coded circuit breaker handles. With problems concerning electrical panels, and more specifically, Zinsco panels, please have a certified, qualified and most importantly licensed electrician handle this job. When Zinsco was sold to GTE Sylvania in 1973, the company continued to make Zinsco panels were quite popular during the 1970’s. In 1973, the GTE Corporation launched an electric panel design and called it “Challenger”. How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Zinsco Electrical Breaker Panel? As a result, a high risk of starting electrical fires and electrocution. For example, a home inspector may remove the cover of the panel but will not remove breakers to inspect the bus bar’s connection. • Why is a fuse box/panel an insurance problem for homebuyers? That way, they can make a well-educated decision on what to do. Zinsco Panel Boxes Have 3 Reported Major Faults 1. Insurance companies have become increasingly cautious when having to sign insurance for older properties with FPE or Zinsco panels installed. Your particular panel might work perfectly for many years and never cause a fire. Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about ELECTRIC PANELS: • What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel? • What is the maximum number of circuit breakers allowed in an electric panel? Throughout the 1970s, it was common to have a Zinsco panel installed in a new building. Installation of the main service disconnect. Zinsco Panel Box Problems with certain Zinsco panels cannot be seen by the naked eye. There have been no recalls of the Sylvania-Zinsco panel, and it has not been made for many years now. The electrical panels sold by Zinsco were prevalent between the 1960s and 1970s. Installation of arc fault and ground fault breakers. << What is the best air conditioner for a mobile home? Most obsolete electrical panels can’t be repaired. Since there is no official data, a homeowner may feel like an electrician who advises them on an electrical panel upgrade when no damage may be exaggerating the severity of the condition. It was prone to oxidation, and oxidized aluminum has an insulating property, not conducting one. Secondary problems are failure of the breakers to trip under an overcurrent event and cases of a tripped breaker continuing to be energized. Insurance companies and even lenders (if you are looking for a mortgage) know the inherent risk of insuring properties with older and outdated electrical panels. • Why is the circuit breaker stuck in the middle? This is extremely dangerous as it can lead to electrical shocks and even electrocution. What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel? However, the most frequently recommended and the best course of action safety-wise. Â© McGarry and Madsen, Zinsco panels, like the one shown above, use a clip-on connection between the break, Another panel of the same era, the “Stab-Lok” made by Federal Pacific, was found to have fraudulently obtained UL-approval of their panel design and eventually went out of business due to lawsuits related to fires caused by equipment failures. This Zinsco combination Meter Socket / Electrical Distribution Panel just about burned my friend's house down. Zinsco breaker panels are dangerous and no longer considered safe to use. So, how much does it cost to replace a Zinsco breaker panel? Zinsco Magnetrip Panels and Circuit Breaker Problems If the existing Zinsco breakers are OK, then replacing then is totally up to you. Replacing a faulty electrical panel can cost big money, in some cases, several thousand dollars. and Why are Zinsco and Sylvania-Zinsco electric panels a problem? Zinsco panel is always recognized as a serious hazard. 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