Old Panels & Breakers
Are Your Zinsco Electrical Panels Putting Your House in Harm’s Way?
Zinsco electrical panels are obsolete. They were once a popular product to have installed in homes. But current electrical needs have become greater over the years and these panels are simply not up to code.
Brief History of Zinsco
Emile Zinsmeyer started Zinsmeyer Co right after the stock market crash of 1929. He later sold it to his son and the company was renamed Zinsco. At the time, the technology developed by the company, was considered innovative and ahead of its time. However, updates were not readily made to the Zinsco electrical panels, in order to be consistent with modern electric code standards. In 1973, GTE-Sylvania bought the company.
Zinsco Electrical Panel Recall
You will be hard pressed to find a Zinsco electrical panel recall. You would think that with all the problems that the product causes, it would have several recalls over the years. There was nothing in the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) which is one of the biggest authorities for product recalls. This includes a search on GTE-Sylvania. However, digging deeper led to the discovery that GTE-Sylvania was sold to Challenger Electrical Equipment. The CPSC has a voluntarily registered replacement by the company of faulty parts of its circuit breaker and a recall was issued by the company. It is unclear whether the product being recalled is the same as the original Zinsco electrical panels but home inspectors and electricians alike suspect this to be the case.
What Problems Can Be Caused by Zinsco Panels?
Zinsco electrical panel problems are primarily due to a design flaw. The product was from the early 20th century. Back then, people didn’t have the quantities or the types of electronics that we use today. Televisions were mostly nonexistent and personal use of computers didn’t come about into much later in the century. Houses were generally smaller during that time period. Electronic conveniences that we regularly use were not the norm. The load to a circuit breaker was much less than it would be today.
The key problem with Zinsco electrical panels nowadays, is that they often fail to trip when a surge occurs. If a trip doesn’t occur, the excess power has to go somewhere. It can overheat the panel, which frequent occurrence can damage the panel or worse, it can cause a fire.
If you have Zinsco electrical panels installed, you may be lucky enough to get a warning. You will notice that your lights are flickering. This is not the only cause of lights to flicker but is a condition that should be checked out. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, no warning will happen. The unit will simply overheat from too many surges and a fire will break out.
Fire is not the only problem that these panels can cause. Because the circuits are not breaking when overcurrent occurs, the possibility of shock and even electrocution is much greater. If you do experience any kind of shock when using electrical devices, this is something that should be checked out by a qualified electrician immediately.
Did GTE-Sylvania Solve the Issues with Zinsco Panels?
It seems that Zinsco Sylvania electrical panels are really the same design as the original. In fact, electricians that have come across these panels state that the company simply placed the label on top of the Zinsco name, making it seem as if it’s a new design. This makes it difficult to trust panels that have the new name pasted onto it.
It should be clear by now that if your house has one of the Zinsco electrical panels, you need to get a qualified electrician to come in and take a look. While there are aftermarket replacement parts available, usually the correct solution is to replace the unit entirely. An electrician that is qualified to handle this type of job is Electrical Panel Solutions in Palm Beach and Broward County, Florida.