J.D Hatton Electric
Consumer Product Safety Information
This website contains extensive information for consumers and building professionals regarding aluminum electrical wiring in residential properties. The contents are the result of study of this topic and represent the opinion of the author. Actual documents, authoritative research, and government resources about aluminum wiring are here. This is the most extensive and authoritative Internet information source for aluminum wiring and related hazards.
Aluminum wiring, used in some homes from the mid 1960's to the early 1970's, is a potental fire hazard. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, fires and even deaths have been reported to have been caused by this hazard. Problems due to expansion can cause overheating at connections between the wire and devices (switches and outlets) or at splices. CPSC research shows that "homes wired with aluminum wire manufactured before 1972 are 55 times more likely to have one or more connections reach "Fire Hazard Conditions" than are homes wired with copper. "Post 1972" aluminum wire is also a concern. Introduction of the aluminum wire "alloys" in 1972 time frame did not solve most of the connection failure problems. Aluminum wiring is still permitted and used for certain applications, including residential service entrance wiring and single-purpose higher amperage circuits such as 240V air conditioning or electric range circuits.
As of the current date of this page only two remedies have been recommended by the CPSC: discontinued use of the aluminum circuit or, less costly, the addition of copper connecting "pigtail" wires between the aluminum wire and the wired device (receptacle, switch, or other device). The pigtail connection must be made using only a special connector and special crimping tool licensed by the AMP Corporation. Emergency temporary repairs necessary to keep an essential circuit in service might be possible following other procedures described by the CPSC. A special installation method is described in the article we posted on 1/31/96 below.
WANTED: Aluminum Wiring Failure Cases & Data for ongoing study on frequency and severity of occurrence of problems. If you have experienced any problem, or symptom of possible problem with aluminum electrical wiring, or have repaired or replaced it, please contact Dan Friedman using the contact information at the end of this page. All information is confidential. Study results will be provided to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and to the electrical industry. Real life aluminum wiring field ailure reports can be seen at wirefire.htm.
Siemens&Murray Recall visit CPSC's website
Information for building inspectors, home buyers, home owners, electricians exploring the background of possible hazards associated with Federal Pacific Electric Stab-lok circuit breakers and service panels.
Federal Pacific Electric "Stab-Lok" service panels and breakers are a latent hazard and can fail, leading to electrical fires. The problem is that some double-pole (240-Volt) FPE circuit breakers and possibly also some single-pole units simply may not work. We also have reports that independent of the breaker problems, there have been panel and panel-bus fires and arcing failures in some equipment. The failure rates for these circuit breakers were significant and are documented in the CPSC study. Additional independent testing and research are on-going and will be reported here - watch for articles marked .
Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok Circuit Breaker Articles and Failures Research
- 2004 FPE Update: St. Louis ASHI Seminar including: Hazard Summary & Independent Tests confirms Stab-Lok failures
- 2004 FPE Update: Exxon Buys a Scandal Along With A Company Business Week Article 7/21/80 now available on line
- 2003 A Summary of the Main Problem: Federal Pacific Stab-Lok Electric Panel and Circuit Breaker Hazards
- 2003 Federal Pacific Electric Breakers - an encyclopedic account of FPE StabLok deficiencies and hazards by Renowned Home Inspector, Educator, and Code Check author Douglas Hansen. Code Check offers building code inspection guides for field use, and links on codes and failures. 11/2003
- 2000 FPE breakers fail in lab test of field-supplied panel 10/00
- 1999 Failures continue: FPE breaker fails, results in fire: field report 12/99
- 1999 The International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) published (6/99) an inaccurate article asserting that there is no hazard with FPE Stab-Lok equipment - OUR REPLY disagreed and cited authoritative data found here along with followup notes.
- 1999 Home Inspection Reporting Language and discussion for FPE panels
- 1997 Schneider Canada Federal Pioneer circuit breaker recall
- 1995 Federal Pacific Electric Panels: Fires Waiting to Happen, Debate Waiting to Be Ended - original text article from which this summary was extracted.
- 1983 CPSC Investigation of FPE Circuit Breakers Safety Information for Consumers
- 1982 CPSC Calibration and Condition Tests of Molded Case Circuit Breakers, Final Report December 30, 1982, summary pages, indicating failure rates found for FPE Stab-Lok circuit breakers
- 1982 Reliance Electric Co. SEC Quarterly Report: Note C. reports litigation between Reliance and UV Liquidating Trust and contends that "... improper and deceptive practices were employed for many years to secure UL listings for Federal Pacific's circuit protective products..."
- 1980 Reliance Electric Co. Press Release: improper practices improper practices used to obtain UL Listing for most of FPE's circuit breakers and notes testing which indicates "possible defects." 1980, Reliance Electric Co.
- For FREE home owner and home buyer information see The Home Inspection and Construction Information Website
- Contact the Author
- FAQ: Website Credibility
Siemens/ Murray circuit breakers and Panel recall Possible fire hazard Call us for more details.
Electricity is the most widely used energy source in the world and, unfortunately, is often taken for granted. We use electricity everyday for a variety of tasks - no wonder it is such an inconvenience when our power goes out! Electricity is so common that we often forget the importance of proper usage and safety practices. We should constantly remind ourselves and our children of the power of electricity. Following are some interesting facts and good advice:
Did You Know?
Did You Know?
Some safety tips
If you see someone being electrocuted:
Additional safety measures.... the GFCI: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)
To help reduce the likelihood of injury due to electrocutions inside and around the home, the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) has been developed. The GFCI is designed to disconnect power much faster than a typical household circuit breaker or fuse. Most new homes are equipped with at least one ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). The most common GFCI is a special type of receptacle (outlet), usually located in the garage, kitchen or bathroom (usually where water is most likely to be present or where ground faults are most likely to occur). However, GFCI's may also be part of a special circuit breaker or a portable device that can be installed on most standard outlets. Sometimes more than one outlet may be connected to the same GFCI. For example, your home may have a GFCI outlet located in the garage, but the outlets for the bathrooms, kitchen and outside may all be tied to that GFCI. If there is a problem at any of these outlets, the GFCI will disconnect power to all of them.
GFCIs have a TEST and RESET button which should be used to test the GFCI each month. To test the GFCI, press the TEST button. Power should be disconnected at that location. Press the RESET button to restore power. If the TEST button does not cause the power to disconnect, call an electrician to check it out. If your home does not have a GFCI, you may want to consider having one installed.
Electric Safety and Appliances
Water and Electricity Don't Mix
Halogen Floor Lamps
Keep an eye out for downed power lines!
Maybe you want to make sure the food in your freezer stays frozen if there's a power outage. Or you need to power the well pump that provides you with drinking water. Or you want to be able to use your gas or oil furnace when the power's out. Or your at home business requires that you have power to run computers or other equipment.
Whatever the reason, whenever there is an extended power outage, there is also the urge by many customers to fire up the portable generator to get electricity flowing to certain appliances. But, if not used properly, that portable generator can pose a severe hazard to line workers and your neighbors. In addition, the generator itself also can be damaged if it's not connected properly.
Here are some common questions, and answers, about portable generators and using them safely: How do I select a portable generator?
Here is the wattage of a few common items, just as a guide:
What can happen if I don't use the generator properly?
Can this also damage my generator?
How can I prevent back feed?
Can't I accomplish the same thing by throwing the main breaker?
Is there other safety tips I should keep in mind?
Instructions on how to properly use a portable generator are included in most operating manuals. You should read them carefully.