Ensure the electrical safety of your complex
Zinsco/GTE-Sylvania and Federal Pacific Electrical panels were very popular in the 1960s and ‘70s, and millions of households across America had one of these two units installed. Unfortunately, because of the serious hazards their electrical breakers posed, both of the products were recalled. Federal Pacific was also part of a class-action suit in 2002, because of the very dangerous situation their defects led to. However, there continue to be thousands of homes with electrical circuits that use these outdated, highly dangerous panels, and that includes units in small or big residential complexes as well.
If your network still includes a Zinsco/GTE-Sylvania or FPE panel, we strongly recommend changing it as soon as possible. The Zinsco breakers frequently melted to the bus bar – a metallic strip or bar placed within a panel in order to distribute high levels of energy from the outside electric meter to the main panel. As a consequence, the circuit breakers were no longer able to protect the system by shutting it down in case of a shortage or overloading, which led to melted wires and eventually to electrical fires.
Similarly, flawed FPE’s breakers fail to trip when necessary and are thus real fire and electrocution hazards. Without properly working circuit breakers, the electrical grid gets supercharged in the event of a malfunction (short circuit or overload) and causes overheating and fires. Another shortcoming of Federal Pacific panels is the risk of getting electrocuted while working on it, since the unit often sends current to the circuit even in the “off” position.
1. Commercial properties are at larger risks. Residential complexes have a great number of electricity consumers and therefore a more imminent need for network upgrading. Outdated Zinsco panels can no longer supply enough energy for all the electrical needs that technological developments or the multitude of applications require. The HOA is responsible for the entire upgrading process, acting as a liaison between the residents and the municipal authorities that need to approve and supervise the project. We can work close together with the HOAs to make sure that all units, serving both indoor and outdoor areas, are up-to-date and supply adequate power to all circuits of the complex.
2. Property insurance might become an issue. Insurance companies are particularly cautious when covering commercial properties, residential complexes included, due to the scale of potential damages. It’s tricky to find coverage for households with outdated, hazardous electrical panels. Property managers can be held accountable if they are aware of the existing risks and it becomes more and more difficult to find insurance policies that cover them. Moreover, inspectors pay extra attention to all components of the electrical network in a residential complex, since their well functioning is essential to maintaining the safety of the homes and implicitly of the residential area.
Time is no ally to the process of electric panel replacement and grid improvement. We, at Penna Electric, recommend that residential complexes start assessing and, if necessary, upgrading their electrical network in order to avoid any possible damage.
Our personnel have the expertise that allows them to undertake such complex projects and the ability to assist the HOAs through each stage of the process. Here’s a few steps to take for a safer property:
- Choose a properly insured electrical company. Penna electricians are licensed and certified, but they also benefit from a comprehensive insurance that is recommended for considerable projects.
- Plan in advance: start out by asking for an assessment of the electrical grid of your property. You can contact us to have an experienced electrician review the residential compound and provide an estimation of what will achieve compliance to the safety codes. We can submit our plans to both the HOA and the City’s Department of Building and Safety.
- Sign a contract: make sure you close an official agreement, that is agreed upon by both parties and includes all costs, as well as scheduled payments and due dates for completion.
- Keep track of the progress: our company can help you with keeping records of the advancement of the project, which units or buildings are completed, which are next to be upgraded etc. We can also share our own logs with you and your insurance agency and we are able to book inspections and plan meetings with the Department of Building and Safety in your city.
To learn more or get a free quote, contact us today.
Frequently Asked Questions about a Commercial Electrical Panel Upgrade