We started this series because we came across a very informative electrical panel safety alert from a consumer safety company and in part of the series they sought out an experts opinion as well electrician and homeowners accounts.
Expert Opinion on Zinsco Panel
“These circuit breakers do not offer the level of over current and fire protection provided by most other electrical panels and circuit breakers. This equipment presents greater risk of fire or other electrical hazard. Where Zinsco electrical panels are discovered in buildings, they should be replaced to reduce some very real fire and shock hazards.”
“Where Zinsco electrical panels and Zinsco circuit breakers are in use, arcing, contact-point burn, and even circuit breaker case blow-out have been observed in the field. A principal Zinsco circuit breaker point of failure appears to be at the point of contact where the circuit breaker contacts clip onto the electrical panel bus, combined with the use of aluminum electrical panel bus.”
Educator, Author, and Building Failures Researcher
Examples of Damage Created by Zinsco Panels:
Below are the 2 excerpts from emails sent to Dan Friedman from electricians regarding their experience with Zinsco panels. Below are the excerpts:
Email dated 09/02/2003 – I was at a site to do an estimate and noticed a Zinsco panel. I asked the customer if it was alright to check it, and he agreed. He said the only trouble he knew about was the water heater didn’t always give them real hot water. I pulled the panel cover off and everything looked okay. I checked the breakers with a volt meter, and it had proper voltage at all circuits. Then, I started (carefully) removing breakers and found the top (water heater circuit) breaker had welded itself to the buss and came apart when I tried to remove it. (This could be very dangerous for a homeowner or home inspector!) I removed several other breakers and found them to be badly damaged, and the bussing was burnt in several locations. After seeing the situation it was not hard to convince the owner that it was time to replace the Zinsco panel.
04/15/2003 – I recently stumbled upon a Zinsco and asked the customer if it was okay to inspect. With the okay, I proceeded to pull the cover off. The breakers and panel looked to be in great shape. There was no obvious heat damage or signs of conductor damage. Upon removing the breakers, I found serious damage to the breakers and bussing. One had become welded to the buss. Another breaker fell apart when I tried to remove it. The panel did not have a main breaker, so there was no way to shut off power to the top section! This could have been extremely danagerous if a homeowner had tried to remove the breaker to replace it or check it.