If your home has electricity and an electrical panel, you also have electrical breakers. These devices are used to separate the electricity into various circuits that power the different spaces and high-demand electrical features in your home. Each breaker is typically labeled with the room, rooms, or appliance it supplies with electricity, such as the master bedroom, pool pump, or AC unit. The other job of the breaker is to trip or open the circuit if excess electricity is entering the circuit. This vital safety feature prevents wiring and other components from overheating and starting a fire. In addition, all of the breakers are located in an enclosure for added safety. But what happens when a specific type or brand of breaker is found to be unsafe?
While all electrical components are tested before they hit the market, some occasionally stand up to testing in a controlled environment but later are found to be a hazard in real-world applications. In the case of electrical breakers, a few are hazardous and have been recalled. However, unless you have inspected the breakers in your home or asked the pros at Lumberjack Electric to inspect them, you might not know the brand of breakers your home uses or if they are included in a safety recall. Below is a list of the standard electrical breakers that have been recalled.
- Zinsco Breaker- Zinsco breakers were commonly installed in the 1970s, but a design flaw resulted in many electrical fires and shocks. So they are no longer installed, but they could be in an older home that has not received the recommended electrical inspections and electrical panel upgrades that would reveal these hazardous breakers to the homeowners. If you are looking in your electrical panel and see a narrow breaker with a brightly colored label, call 612-236-9052 to schedule an inspection with the Lumberjack Electric team.
- Federal Pacific Breaker- Federal Pacific electrical panels with Stab-Lok breakers were installed from 1950 to 1990. The breakers were found to fail when there was an overload or electrical fault. They did not trip to prevent the electrical fire. Call 612-236-9052 if you have an electrical panel with an FPE or Stab-Lok label.
- Challenger Electrical Panels- GTE manufactured the Challenger electrical panel installed in the 1980s and 1990s. The device created several safety hazards and is no longer produced. However, many are still installed in homes across the country. It is essential to know that not all panels have a Challenger label. Some only say GTE-Sylvania. Call 612-236-9052 if you have a Challenger electrical panel in your home.
- Siemens And Murray- Many Siemens and Murray 15 to 50 AMP single and double pole circuit breakers have been recalled due to a small plastic spring clip that can break under normal working conditions. This recall includes as many as 2.2 million breakers produced over a ten-year period.
What You Need To Know About Electrical Breakers
First, it is crucial to understand that even quality breakers will wear out. So it is never a bad idea to call the pros at Lumberjack Electric for an inspection if you are seeing indications of an electrical issue in your home. The life expectancy for a well-maintained and serviced breaker can be as long as 40 years. However, those on a GFCI circuit can be as short as 10 to 15 years. So as the electrical system in your home reaches a decade in age, regular inspections are a wise investment in the safety of your home and the devices plugged into the electrical system.
Indications Of A Failing Breaker
Sadly, a breaker can fail, and you have no idea until it is too late. The only way you discover the issue is when the breaker fails to trip, and a power surge passes down the electrical wiring in your home and damages the wiring or devices plugged into outlets. This hazard is another reason the team at Lumberjack Electric recommends annual electrical system inspections, which include testing the breakers.
However, in most cases, you will have some indications of breakers nearing the end of their life, either due to regular use or because they are defective, wearing out prematurely, and are likely on the recall list above. The signs of a failing breaker include:
- Breakers that frequently trip often wear out and could fail at the most inopportune time.
- Breakers that are difficult or impossible to reset need immediate attention from a licensed electrician.
- If you notice a burnt odor or the smell of smoke near your electrical panel, call the pros at Lumberjack Electric at 612-236-9052 immediately for emergency service.
- When resetting a breaker, you should never notice any heat coming from any breaker in the panel. If you feel a warm or hot breaker, do not touch it. Call Lumberjack Electric at 612-236-9052 immediately for emergency service. Touching a warm breaker could result in severe injury.
- When you attempt to reset a tripped breaker, first take a close look to ensure that the breaker is not damaged. A breaker that has overheated can look singed or even appear to have slightly melted. Never touch a damaged breaker to avoid a severe shock or burn. Instead, call Lumberjack Electric at 612-236-9052 immediately for emergency service.
When To Upgrade Breakers
As you look around your home, count the number of electrical appliances and electronics plugged into your outlets. You might also want to count the power strips you have in use to plug in all your devices. As the number climbs, think about the time your home was built. If that date was more than a decade or two ago, it is time to call Lumberjack Electric at 612-236-9052 to discuss upgrading your electrical panel and breakers. Homes built a few decades ago do not have the electrical capabilities needed for today’s lifestyle, laden with electronics and a myriad of electrical appliances. Upgrading to a more robust electrical panel and breakers is a wise investment for the safety of your home and electronic devices.