RAL Electrical Position Statement

RAL Electrical Position Statement

Federal Pacific®, Zinsco™ & Sylvania™-Zinsco Electrical Panels

Federal Pacific Electric (FPE Stab-Lok®) was brand of electrical panels widely distributed throughout the United States. When a dangerous over-current occurs, the equipment is likely to not trip, failing to provide the safety protection that is expected of circuit breakers. This panel and associated breakers have a history of failure.

Zinsco™ and Sylvania™-Zinsco Electric Panels are obsolete today but were once very popular and installed widely throughout the United States. As time has passed it has been determined that certain Zinsco panels often can fail to operate properly and may leave homes and homeowners at risk to both fire and electrical shock. These panels can work fine for years, but as homes have increased energy demands, these panels may overheat and experience significant breaker damage.

• Not all home inspectors are familiar with each of the panels and their safety concerns and as such not all of these panels may be identified within our reports. RAL cannot make any guarantees or warranties that the presence of these panels will always be identified in our reports.

• When our field inspector identifies these panels it is RAL’s policy to report them as deficient and call for further evaluation of the panel by a qualified electrician to determine the current condition of the panel and determine if replacement of the panel is recommended.

• If a qualified electrician offers a written opinion that this type of panel is acceptable and no replacement is necessary, RAL will forward this professional’s opinion to our clients. Keep in mind that the electrician’s opinion may differ from RAL’s position statement.

RAL understands the need for some clients to have these panels further evaluated by a qualified electrician before making final decisions with regard to the transferee and property. However, it is RAL’s position statement that these panels, regardless of condition, pose significant safety and/or financial risk and should be replaced, regardless of further review results. In addition, there can be a stigma related to these types of electrical panels, which poses a potential marketing problem and negotiation point for a future buyer. RAL recommends each corporate client make their own policy as to whether or not they require replacement of these panels.

 

Knob & Tube Wiring

Knob & tube wiring is a type of wiring commonly installed until the 1950's. The nickname is derived from the ceramic knobs that are used to insulate and secure the wiring runs and the ceramic tubes used to protect the wires where they pass thru materials (primarily wood joists, studs etc.). Unlike subsequent wiring systems where all the wires in a run are enclosed in a cable, the two wires (hot and neutral) run separately and come together at a terminal (switch, receptacle, fixture, junction box etc.). This is an older type wiring, which in and of itself can mean deteriorated materials, diminishing reliability and greater risk for electrical failure. In addition, when knob and tube wiring is improperly combined with more modern wiring components or covered by insulation it can create a potential fire hazard.

• The presence of knob & tube wiring cannot always be determined as it can be buried under insulation, concealed by storage or installed within walls and ceilings.

• Knob & tube wiring may be present but inactive, however it is outside the scope of the ERC inspection to determine its condition and conductivity.

• When our field inspector identifies knob & tube wiring it is RAL’s policy to report it as deficient and call for further evaluation by a qualified electrician to determine the current condition and provide recommendations for correction / replacement.

• If a qualified electrician offers a written opinion that the visible knob & tube wiring is in acceptable condition and no replacement is necessary, RAL will forward this professional’s opinion to our clients. Keep in mind that the electrician’s opinion may differ from RAL’s position statement.RAL understands the need for some clients to have knob and tube wiring further evaluated by a qualified electrician before making final decisions with regard to the transferee and property.

However, it is RAL’s position statement that knob and tube wiring, regardless of condition, poses significant safety and/or financial risk and should be replaced, regardless of further review results. In addition, there can be a stigma related to this type of wiring, which poses a potential marketing problem and negotiation point for a future buyer. RAL recommends each corporate client make their own policy as to whether or not they require replacement of this wiring.

 

Single Strand Aluminum Branch Wiring

Single strand aluminum branch wiring was used during the 1960’s and 1970’s for the wiring of receptacles, switches and devices throughout many homes. This single strand branch aluminum wiring has been implicated in a number of house fires. The actual cause of these fires was not the aluminum wire itself, but was the result of improper connections. Aluminum does not conduct electricity as efficiently as copper and creates more resistance and heat. The wire also expands and contracts more than copper thus there is a tendency for the connections to become loose at the devices and junction boxes. Oxidation will build up between the loose connections, causing an increase in the amount of heat generated, posing a potential fire hazard.

• When our field inspector identifies single strand aluminum branch wiring it is RAL’s policy to report it as deficient and call for further evaluation by a qualified electrician to determine the current condition and provide recommendations for correction / replacement.

• If a qualified electrician offers a written opinion that the visible single strand aluminum branch wiring is in acceptable condition or that replacement is not necessary, RAL will forward this professional’s opinion to our clients. Keep in mind that the electrician’s opinion may differ from RAL’s position statement. RAL understands the need for some clients to have single strand aluminum branch wiring further evaluated by a qualified electrician before making final decisions with regard to the transferee and property.

However, it is RAL’s position statement that single strand aluminum branch wiring, regardless of condition, poses significant safety and/or financial risk and should be replaced, regardless of further review results. In addition, there can be a stigma related to this type of wiring, which poses a potential marketing problem and negotiation point for a future buyer. RAL recommends each corporate client make their own policy as to whether or not they require replacement of this wiring.