Zinsco Electric Panels – Dangerous?

Perhaps you have heard of the Zinsco electric panel and wonder if are they dangerous?  Unfortunately, they do pose a fire risk.  David, a home inspector with ARTI Home Inspections LLC, recently found a Zinsco electric panel on a Home Inspection in Reading, PA.  He provides some information on them and what hazards they pose.

Zinsco Panel Hazards

Zinsco electric panels were popular in the 1960’s and 70’s but have a number of design flaws.  This is why they are no longer sold today.  So, if a home inspector finds one in the home they are inspecting, they will recommend replacement of that electric panel to ensure fire safety.  The design flaws include:

  • Aluminum wiring & components
  • Loose circuit breakers
  • An easily corroded bus bar
  • Breakers appear to be turned off but may still conduct power

Aluminum Wiring & Components

Aluminum wiring is not exclusively a Zinsco electric panel problem, but is a possible problem with all electric systems that were installed in the early 1970’s.  Since this is the time frame when Zinsco electric panels were typically installed, single strand aluminum wiring can be found in these panels.  The single strand aluminum wiring expands much more than single strand copper wiring so it is more common for the connections between the single strand aluminum wire and the electric receptacle to become loose.  A loose connection can increase the risk of arcing and creates a potential fire hazard.

Loose Circuit Breakers

When the connection between the breakers and bus bar (which provides power to the circuits) is not solid, arcing can occur.  Arcing can melt the breaker and creates a possible fire hazard.

Easily Corroded Bus Bar

A bus bar grounds and conducts electricity.  Therefore, a corroded bus bar will increase the resistance between the bus bar and the breaker and can create a fire hazard.

Breakers Appear to be Turned Off But May Still Conduct Power

There are a number of reasons to turn off a circuit breaker.  If you have ever had to turn one off, you would expect the power to that circuit to stop.  If not, this can pose an electric shock hazard. Not good!

While these panels may have safely operated for years, homes continue to have increased energy demands.  This can cause an overload in the panel which can cause it to overheat and melt.  The risks of having a Zinsco electric panel are not worth your family’s safety.

Unfortunately, a Zinsco panel is not easy to identify.  You need a home inspector or electrician to evaluate your panel and let you know what, if any, hazards it poses.  Early detection can prevent a house fire!


Reading home inspector

Home Inspector in Reading, PA

David Artigliere is the owner of ARTI Home Inspections LLC.  He does home inspections in Reading, Pottstown, Collegeville, Malvern, and Philadelphia.  He has been in business since 2001.  He can help identify your electric panel and let you know if you have any potential hazards present.

Contact ARTI Home Inspections LLC for more information today!