Give Yourself A “Break” – Check Your Breaker Box

12/13/2017

Here’s another sad story that could easily have been prevented.

A couple piled their kids into the car and took off for Grandma’s house for a long holiday weekend.

Grandma doesn’t allow cell phones at the dinner table (good for her!)… so Dad didn’t get the panicky calls from the neighbors until he turned his phone on a few hours later.

Fourteen calls!

And as the man listened to his messages, his face turned grey, then white.

Trouble back home.  Big trouble.

In fact, it turned out there wasn’t much “home” left back home.

Somehow, the house had caught fire.  Emergency responders had worked for hours to save what they could… but that wasn’t much.  Nearly everything the family had was destroyed.

And now they were homeless.

But in fact, things could’ve been much worse.

What if the family had been home when the house caught fire?

What if the fire had been allowed to spread to neighboring homes, or to other structures?

What if pets had been trapped in the inferno?

In fact, the fire inspector told Dad he’d been “lucky.”  Lucky that these things hadn’t happened when the older electrical panel – the “breaker box” in the garage that the man had used a dozen times in the decade the family had lived in the house – failed.

But as the weeks dragged on, and the couple worked feverishly to reassemble their lives, well… they certainly didn’t feel lucky.

Prevention Is Far Easier (And Cheaper) Than Recovery

In the electrical business, we see them all the time: homes with older electrical panels that can pose unnecessary risks to homeowners and their families.

If you think about it, your electrical panel – the “breaker box” in your garage, or basement, or even outside the back door – is a modern miracle.  It takes all the electrical power coming into your home and “routes” it, like a traffic controller, precisely where it’s needed.

And when something unusual happens – an overload in a circuit, for instance – the breaker box leaps into action, “breaking” the circuit so your wiring won’t overheat and spark a dangerous fire.

But in more than 20,000 American homes each year, the breaker box fails to do its job, and a home fire like the one I’ve described is the unhappy result.

Three hundred people die in fires like these every year, and hundreds more are injured.

And the annual damages cost a billion dollars in the U.S.

Is there a big chance your home will suffer a fire like this?

“Not really,” you might think.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot of fires.

But if your home is older, or if your electrical panel was installed more than a decade ago, your odds are far worse than they need to be.

And it’s a simple matter to have a qualified electrician take a look.  You might be surprised… both at the risk you’re taking, and at the ease (and affordability) with which you could reduce that risk dramatically.

One Type Of Panel To Watch Out For

Go open your breaker box and take a look at it. Go right now.

Do you see the brand name “Federal Pacific Electric” (or FPE) printed anywhere on the panel?

Do you see elements labeled with FPE’s brand-name, “Stab-Lok?”

If so, you don’t need to wonder whether it’s time to call an electrician. It’s time.  Call an electrician today.

There’s some debate in the industry about just how dangerous these panels are.  The government investigated Federal Pacific decades ago, and didn’t end up recalling those panels… but you can find plenty of warnings about FPE panels which failed to interrupt overloaded circuits and caused house fires.

Debate aside, here are some facts:

  • You can’t sell your home with an FPE panel installed, even if it’s never caused a problem.
  • You won’t find an inspector who will “pass” your home with such a breaker box.
  • You won’t find a qualified electrician who doesn’t recommend replacing that FPE panel.

And anyway, why take chances with your safety, or with that of your family?

Even if you don’t have an FPE Stab-Lok panel in your home, you might still have outdated equipment.  Your home’s breaker box is like a silent sentry, guarding you and your family against disaster.

Don’t you want the best sentry you can have?

It only takes one failure of your home’s breaker box to cause a flaming disaster.  But the good news is that it may only take one call to your qualified electrician to provide you and your family with the best protection you can get.

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