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Federal Pacific Breakers


Federal Pacific breakers, also known as FPE breakers, are a type of circuit breaker that was commonly used in homes built between the 1950s and 1980s. These breakers have been a subject of controversy and concern among homeowners, electricians, and safety regulators for decades. If you are a homeowner in the zip code 02906 of East Providence, Rhode Island, you might have heard about the potential risks associated with these breakers and may have concerns about the safety of your own home’s electrical system.

As a licensed electrician, B&K Electric specializes in electrical repairs, panel maintenance, and installations in homes and businesses in Warwick and all of Rhode Island. With seventeen years of experience serving the community, we understand the importance of ensuring the safety and reliability of your home’s electrical system. In this article, we will delve into the history of Federal Pacific breakers, discuss the potential risks they pose, and provide insights on what homeowners in the United States, especially those in the residential industry, need to know to keep their homes and loved ones safe.

History of Federal Pacific Breakers

Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) was a popular manufacturer of electrical circuits, panels, and breakers between the 1950s and 1980s. At one point, they were the second-largest producer of circuit breakers in the United States. However, in the late 1970s, concerns about the safety and reliability of their products started to surface.

At this time, a series of tests conducted by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a safety consulting and certification company, revealed that FPE breakers failed to meet UL’s safety standards. Despite this, FPE continued to manufacture and sell their breakers, and they were installed in millions of homes across the country, including many homes in the zip code 02906 of East Providence, Rhode Island.

Potential Risks of FPE Breakers

The main concern with FPE breakers is that they have a higher risk of malfunctioning, potentially leading to electrical fires or electrocution. According to a study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), FPE breakers fail to trip or shut off power when a circuit is overloaded or short-circuited, as they are designed to do. This means that in the event of an electrical overload or malfunction, the FPE breaker may not turn off the power, leading to overheating and potential fire hazards.

Additionally, FPE breakers have been found to have issues with their design and manufacturing, making them more prone to malfunctioning. For example, the contact points in FPE breakers were poorly designed, leading to arcing (electrical sparking) and increased chances of breaker failure. Furthermore, FPE circuit panels were also found to have poor connections between the breakers and conductors, increasing the potential for loose connections and arcing.

What Can You Do as a Homeowner?

If your home was built between the 1950s and 1980s, there is a possibility that it might have FPE breakers installed. As a homeowner, there are certain steps you can take to ensure the safety of your home’s electrical system.

First and foremost, if you suspect that your home might have FPE breakers, it is crucial to have a licensed electrician like B&K Electric inspect your electrical panel and breakers. During this inspection, the electrician will look for signs of wear and tear, corrosion, and other issues that could indicate a potential problem with your FPE breakers. They will also check for loose connections, which could be a sign of arcing.

If the electrician does find FPE breakers in your home, the safest course of action is to have them replaced immediately. Replacing FPE breakers with newer, safer models will not only give you peace of mind but will also increase the overall safety and reliability of your home’s electrical system.

It is important to note that not all FPE breakers are unsafe. In fact, many experts believe that FPE breakers produced before 1982 do not pose the same level of risk as those produced afterward. However, because it is difficult to determine the age and condition of FPE breakers without the help of a licensed electrician, it is better to err on the side of caution and have them replaced.

It is also recommended to have a regular professional inspection of your electrical system every few years, especially if you have an older home. This will ensure that any potential issues are caught early before they become major safety hazards.

In the end

As a homeowner, ensuring the safety of your home and loved ones should always be a top priority. With the knowledge of the potential risks associated with FPE breakers and the steps you can take to ensure the safety of your electrical system, you can make informed decisions for the well-being of your home. If you live in the zip code 02906 of East Providence, Rhode Island, and need any assistance with electrical repairs, panel maintenance, or installations, B&K Electric is here to help. Trust our family-owned business with your home’s electrical needs, and let us provide you with peace of mind and exceptional service.


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