There have been a number of studies and other, unpleasant realizations regarding some of the breakers that are generally installed in houses from the mid and late 1900s. This is as worrisome as you’d think. Sure, sometimes as a homeowner of an older home should prepare to invest a little extra to make sure their abode is liveable. You may have to replace you sky blue bathtub, or you may even have to invest in a brand new water heater for your older Fairfax home, but it seems rare that you’d have to worry about the electrical breaker, an appliance that’s so commonplace and seemingly independent that you wouldn’t think about it twice. Unfortunately because of the negligence of the electricians from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

Are Zinsco and Sylvania Electrical Breaker Panels Safe?

In short, not at all. Essentially, all Zinsco and Sylvania breaker panels are totally obsolete today. They leave you at risk of electrocution and, even worse, home fires. What’s tricky about them is that they can work fine for years and never show any signs of danger, but all it takes is one wrong turn and they’ll start overheating, have issues with the increased energy demands of a modern home and suddenly portions of the panel are melting, catching fire and rendering your home in Fairfax rather unsafe. Usually, these panels will melt from extreme heat exposure, all the way up to the bus bar of the panel. Once this occurs, it will no longer be able to trip in the event of an overcurrent or a short circuit. A huge electrical surge will course throughout the home’s wire and overtax the wires, panels and circuits. Once that occurs, it will be impossible to turn off the electricity manually and it will eventually have to burn out until it runs out of fuel or burns straight through all of your home’s wiring.

Identify Your Sylvania or Zinsco and Give Us a Call

The specific thing wrong with Sylvania and Zinsco is that their bus and breaker designs are faulty, but it’s not as if you can spot that with the naked eye unless the breaker has already overheated and started to melt, then you can make an educated guess that it’s merely one of the volatile electrical breakers. To begin your search, we recommend looking for the brand name. Sylvanias of all kinds should be checked out. In general, it’s usually Sylvania branded circuit breakers with the GTE-Zinsco circuit breakers that are the most worrisome, but it’s best to get an older circuit breaker checked anyway. When you’re attempting to identify a Zinsco, please remember that you do not need to open up the circuit breaker, in fact, we’d caution you not to do that. If you open the door, you’ll likely get shocked. Divine Electric Norcal would like to encourage you to reach out to us individually and schedule a safety consultation. The connection between the breakers and bus bar is almost never solid and the bus bar corrodes too easily. Please don’t assume your own safety, we’re happy to come out and do a professional safety council even if we don’t end up helping you replace your breaker because we care about your safety. Please reach out to us, and schedule a safety consultation today if you think your Sylvania breaker was installed between the 1950s and 1990s.

Don’t just take out word for it!  There have been a number of studies regarding some of the Zinsco / Sylvania electrical panels and breakers installed in houses within the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

Other references:

http://ismypanelsafe.com/zinsco.php

https://inspectapedia.com/electric/Zinsco_Electrical_Panels.php