OUTLINE: Commonly installed in 1970’s. Failures that could lead to fires and shock ceased production. Bus bars corrode easily and can melt to breakers.
If you read our previous blog on FPE or Federal Pacific Electric panels, you know that insurance companies can make you replace certain panels. The GTE Sylvania Zinsco panel is no exception in this arena. If your home inspector or electrician finds this panel, you will have to replace it.
Background Information & Identification
The Sylvania panel can be found through the three names: GTE, Sylvania, or Zinsco. This type of panel was mainly installed in the 1970’s. Besides looking at the label of the panel for the name, this panel has pastel colored breakers that are in one row down. This is contrary to other breakers that are in two rows and black colored.
Issues with the Panel
After installation of the panel was wide-spread, fire and shock hazards began to arise.
To summarize the issues, the bus bar of the electrical panel could easily melt and overheat. This would lead to the breakers melting and not properly turning off power to a circuit. Ultimately, the circuit breakers could be showing as “off”, but power still could be flowing.
Furthermore, the electrical panel contains quite a bit of aluminum. Aluminum is known to expand/contract/overheat more than other metals. Also, when aluminum corrodes, the rust is non-conductive meaning the electrical flow is limited.
Moreover, the overheating issues can spark a fire.
What is a bus bar?
If you are confused on what a bus bar is, a bus bar is just a piece of metal that runs the power through the panel. The breakers attach to the bar, and the breakers attach to the circuits. The breakers are responsible for “tripping” or manually shutting off power.
Getting Insurance & GTE Sylvania Zinsco Panels
Due to the history of hazards with this electrical panel, insurance companies will require replacement of this type of panel. Panel replacement is typically during the home buying process since older homes are now required to receive a four-point inspection for insurance.
Cost of Replacement
Cost of replacement is typically around $1500 in Florida.
Even if you do not need insurance on your home, it is always recommended to replace this panel for safety.
You can read more about the sylvania zinsco panel here.
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