The photo above is a Zinsco/Sylvania brand electrical panel. This panel is not especially common in West Texas, but I have seen around a dozen so far in my inspection travels. If you're home was built in before 1980, there is a possibility that this panel is installed in your home.
The Zinsco/Sylvania brand electrical panel has a documented history of failure since it's inception. As the decades have passed, savvy electricians and home inspectors have observed and documented that some Zinsco panels can fail to operate as intended and may leave homes and homeowners at risk to both fire and electrical hazards. These panels can work fine for many years, but as homes have increased energy demands (because of more and more electronic devices in the home), these panels may overheat and portions of it melt.
In a situation like this, if a breaker melts to the bus bar of the panel and can no longer adequately trip in case of an overcurrent or short circuit, an extreme amount of power from the outside electrical supply surges into a home’s panel and circuits. Once this scenario plays out, it cannot be stopped or shut off manually. Electricity will burn until it runs out of fuel or the wires melt. The panel could overheat and catch fire, causing serious harm to a home and its occupants.
Many of the documented failures with this brand of panel and breaker relate to just such a scenario: the breaker melts to the bus bar, and then the only way to shut off power to prevent catastrophic electrical failure is to shut off power to the home itself, which is sometimes not an easy task. In fact, there are several highly respected home inspectors nationwide who refuse to even inspect this brand of electrical panel - they will simply recommend replacement.
What can you do if your home has this brand of electrical panel installed? Contact a licensed electrician to replace it with a modern panel and breaker system that is safe.
I would not advise taking chances with this brand of panel; just because it has lasted this long does not mean it can't fail today and endanger you or your family!
If you'd like to learn more, feel free to contact me!
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