Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

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jplee3
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Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

Hey all,

So insurance called out a Zinsco panel (Branded Sylvania) and says we need to get it replaced/updated ASAP (our home inspector did not call this out at all, so that's another issue... I'm considering seeking a refund from him at the very least).

It's one of those meter main combos:
Image
Image

Anyway, a lot of people have been telling me to go up to 200a but it doesn't sound as straightforward as people make it out to be - based on *several* electricians who I've spoken with, one of which came on-site to look at the existing panel this AM, the electric company/provider for my specific area (SDGE in South Orange County) is a huge PITA to work with and very slow when it comes down to all of this.

Basically I just submitted a request with SDGE to get the process started. From here, the electrician told me to expect 3-4 weeks before we actually get someone from the electric company out to inspect and start planning. From there the electrician will work directly with SDGE to get additional approvals, pull permits, etc. All of this, including doing the work and getting the final sign-off, will likely take another 3-4 weeks. So we're already looking at 1.5-2months just for a panel upgrade to get rid of the crap Zinsco panel and replace it with a new 125a panel.

If we wanted to go up to 200a, we would need approval from SDGE and the electrician was saying he seriously doubts that they would approve it but to try anyway. In the case that they don't approve it, I believe they would then tell you that the prerequisite is to replace the feeder wire to the home with a larger gauge so that it would meet the SDGE's standards. The onus is on the electrician to do that work too, which involves digging 4' down and around a large tree. So what originally was a $3000-3500 quote (just to replace the panel) at least doubled to tripled in cost for the sake of going to 200a. The electrician was saying to seriously think about why you need to go up to 200a. I told him about how CA is trying to move to all electric everything and he sort of just shrugged at the thought of it. This is sort of the same response I've gotten from all of the electricians who I've talked to: SDGE Is a PITA to work with and upgrading a panel to 200a in the context of working with SDGE is even worse, so they all seem to want to avoid doing it. But he went back to saying that if I go up to 125a, that should still be quite sufficient for us as long as we don't intend to install a pool, hot tub, ADU, a bunch of patio heaters, multiple car chargers, etc. At most we might want to install car chargers. But the initiative to move to an all-electric home here in CA is also a future concern.

Either way, it's a bit disheartening hearing the same/similar story from multiple electricians and their experiences with SDGE. All of these electricians I've been via local referrals and Yelp so far. I don't think any of them are particularly "lazy" - it sounds more like the electric company just makes customers and electricians jump through hoops for such an update. In contrast, the same electrician who was out this morning told me that the other more prominent electric company in the area (Socal Edison) *prefers* that 200a meters be installed and the approval process is fast (he gets work done in less than a month's time). So I think it's more that the electricians prefer to deal with the company that allows them to get more business and faster. SDGE sounds like a huge bottleneck of bureaucracy

Has anyone gone through a similar situation? Any suggestions or advice?
WJW
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by WJW »

As a home inspector, I would have recommended replacement of this panel in your report.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

Get more quotes. If you think it’s pricey to upgrade now, what do you think it will be like in 5-10 years?
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123
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by 123 »

Zinsco box problem - In a nutshell the problem with Zinsco breaker boxes is that some of the electrical components are aluminum. Aluminum wiring has been identified as an electrical hazard.
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jplee3
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

123 wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 3:24 pm Zinsco box problem - In a nutshell the problem with Zinsco breaker boxes is that some of the electrical components are aluminum. Aluminum wiring has been identified as an electrical hazard.

The inspector is saying the wiring is copper inside:
"The only issue I found was the breakers not having AFCI breakers to current standards. You have copper wiring, if you had aluminum wiring that would be a reportable condition. You should have an electrician come out and inspect the condition of the panel and verify it is safe and or he may recommend upgrading the panel to current standards."

Electricians and insurance are saying that it's not the wiring but more the components themselves (cheap breakers melting, etc). The copper wiring he's referring to is likely the wiring throughout the house, not the panel itself.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by suemarkp »

If I had a Zinsco, I'd get rid of it. The zinsco bus is aluminum and you can get corrosion between the breaker stab bar and the breaker which overheats it. If bad enough, that slot is no longer usable after it burns up. There may also be issues with the breakers failing and not tripping on overload. And as others mentioned, no AFCI breakers are available for the Zinsco footprint. If you are under 2020 code, you need to at least be prepared for AFCI and GFCI for almost every circuit. It depends on your area if they require you to add these on a panel change. The rules for GFCI and AFCI get worse with each code cycle. You'll also most likely need a surge protector installed, and the ones that fit in a set of breaker slots are the most convenient to install and replace.

I would buy a 200A rated panel. It may be easier to stay with a meter main like this one. You can change the 200A main breaker to a smaller one if the power company requires it (typically you can easily choose 125A, 150A, 200A). So you'll have 200A rated equipment that may need to be limited based on the wire from the street. Every power company is different as to what size wire they allow for what main breaker rating (they don't use the NEC, they use the NESC for sizing their stuff). Even my power company has two different sizes for "200 amp" based on whether you have mostly gas appliances or not.

If you ever plan to go solar, it is better to have a higher rated panel (e.g. 200A) and reduce the main breaker rating (e.g. 150A). This allows for more solar backfeed (and keep the breaker slots at the far end of the bus open, as that is where solar should backfeed).
Mark | Somewhere in WA State
hicabob
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by hicabob »

I have an outbuilding with a zinsco box. Had to replace a breaker once and it was $70. An electrician I was chatting to at Home Depot had some witty name for them, which I forget, implying they start fires and said replacing the whole box is cheaper in parts than replacing a couple zinsco equivalent breakers.
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jplee3
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

suemarkp wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 5:23 pm If I had a Zinsco, I'd get rid of it. The zinsco bus is aluminum and you can get corrosion between the breaker stab bar and the breaker which overheats it. If bad enough, that slot is no longer usable after it burns up. There may also be issues with the breakers failing and not tripping on overload. And as others mentioned, no AFCI breakers are available for the Zinsco footprint. If you are under 2020 code, you need to at least be prepared for AFCI and GFCI for almost every circuit. It depends on your area if they require you to add these on a panel change. The rules for GFCI and AFCI get worse with each code cycle. You'll also most likely need a surge protector installed, and the ones that fit in a set of breaker slots are the most convenient to install and replace.

I would buy a 200A rated panel. It may be easier to stay with a meter main like this one. You can change the 200A main breaker to a smaller one if the power company requires it (typically you can easily choose 125A, 150A, 200A). So you'll have 200A rated equipment that may need to be limited based on the wire from the street. Every power company is different as to what size wire they allow for what main breaker rating (they don't use the NEC, they use the NESC for sizing their stuff). Even my power company has two different sizes for "200 amp" based on whether you have mostly gas appliances or not.

If you ever plan to go solar, it is better to have a higher rated panel (e.g. 200A) and reduce the main breaker rating (e.g. 150A). This allows for more solar backfeed (and keep the breaker slots at the far end of the bus open, as that is where solar should backfeed).
When you talk about "main breaker" I'm assuming that's this?
Image

So you're saying we can get a 200a rated panel in place but just use a 125a or 150a breaker for the main breaker?
Last edited by jplee3 on Mon Sep 27, 2021 6:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
RetiredArtist
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by RetiredArtist »

Similar risk with Federal Pacific electric panels. Our building had them, probably installed in the 1970's. Best to update.

https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Rele ... -Consumers
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hand
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by hand »

jplee3 wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 4:09 pm
The inspector is saying the wiring is copper inside:
"The only issue I found was the breakers not having AFCI breakers to current standards. You have copper wiring, if you had aluminum wiring that would be a reportable condition. You should have an electrician come out and inspect the condition of the panel and verify it is safe and or he may recommend upgrading the panel to current standards."
While this may all be technically true, it is hard to believe that any rightminded inspector wouldn't call this out as a potential issue - beyond potential safety issues, it is well known that some insurance companies won't insure.

I would continue to push back on the inspector out of principle and be sure to leave a couple online reviews stating that they failed to identify a Zinsco panel as an issue in your inspection. They shouldn't have an issue with this since their position is that the panel is not an issue... but interested clients will be able to make their own decision.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by lazydavid »

jplee3 wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 6:03 pm When you talk about "main breaker" I'm assuming that's this?

So you're saying we can get a 200a rated panel in place but just use a 125a or 150a breaker for the main breaker?
Yes, and yes. Though on a modern panel the main breaker is always physically separated from the breakers for the individual circuits, rather than mixed in with them.

If your home requires an upgrade of the main feed wiring to support 200A, and you do not want to do that now but may want to later, you can absolutely buy a 200A panel, and replace the included 200A main breaker with a compatible 125A or whatever your wiring allows according to applicable code. Just hang on to that 200A breaker, and if you later decide to upgrade the wiring, you just swap it in. Your electrician can help you source a panel that will allow this.
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jplee3
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

lazydavid wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 7:34 pm
jplee3 wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 6:03 pm When you talk about "main breaker" I'm assuming that's this?

So you're saying we can get a 200a rated panel in place but just use a 125a or 150a breaker for the main breaker?
Yes, and yes. Though on a modern panel the main breaker is always physically separated from the breakers for the individual circuits, rather than mixed in with them.

If your home requires an upgrade of the main feed wiring to support 200A, and you do not want to do that now but may want to later, you can absolutely buy a 200A panel, and replace the included 200A main breaker with a compatible 125A or whatever your wiring allows according to applicable code. Just hang on to that 200A breaker, and if you later decide to upgrade the wiring, you just swap it in. Your electrician can help you source a panel that will allow this.
So I spoke with two electricians who didn't like the idea of this. They were implying that the investigator (who is signing off on the permit) probably isn't going to like seeing this because who's to say you won't try to add more stuff onto the panel (e.g. maxing out all the spaces) and overload it, etc. I'm not sure if that's a thing that people do but he almost made it sound like it was illegal/questionable to do something like this
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by suemarkp »

Those electricians don't seem to understand anything.... Panels have a max rating. There is no reason you can't put in a main less than the panel rating. The panel is well labeled with its maximum amp rating. Spaces have nothing to do with it. You can have an 80 space 150A panel, or an 80 space 225A panel. The main breaker limits the load. Your house is the same regardless of breaker slots -- you could wire every outlet to its own circuit which would probably require 80 breakers. Or you can load up a bunch and have a code minimum install. The load on the panel is the same either way.

Your home may or may not require an increase in wire size. Since you have a meter main, the wire feeding it is based on power company rules and would be woefully undersized by NEC rules. If you have Service Entrance Conductors (the wires from a separate meter to a panel) those limit your breaker size (and I would install 200A rated wires even if you main breaker is smaller to support future growth).

Reducing the main breaker is a common implementation now because of solar, so don't know why these electricians are skeptical of that. Eaton now uses CSR main breakers in their 30 space are larger panels, for both their BR line and CH line. So CSR breakers are easy to find and inexpensive in 125, 150 and 200 amp sizes. If you really can't go over 100A, then you need to take a different approach and perhaps that's what the electricians were thinking. These are usually a back fed regular double pole breaker and the panels are generally limited to 125A. They also tend to be limited in size (generally 22 usable slots or less). A Meter Main type panel also limits your choices.

Finally, I'm not sure if your existing panel has a true 100A main or if it is a higher amp split bus panel (meaning the top 6 slots are always hot, and the 100A breaker at the bottom of those 6 feeds a separate panel below it). Putting the main in the middle is unusual, and there have been many panel design variants so maybe that was what was intended. Split bus panels were popular in the 60's to 70's. The only way to know what you really have is to open it up and look to see what size wire is feeding the meter and if that 100A main is a true main or if it is split bus. The panel part number and rating should be labeled inside. I have heard of concerns regarding opening Zinsco panels, so have the electricians do it and you should probably turn off every breaker just to be safe.
Mark | Somewhere in WA State
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jplee3
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

suemarkp wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 10:04 pm Those electricians don't seem to understand anything.... Panels have a max rating. There is no reason you can't put in a main less than the panel rating. The panel is well labeled with its maximum amp rating. Spaces have nothing to do with it. You can have an 80 space 150A panel, or an 80 space 225A panel. The main breaker limits the load. Your house is the same regardless of breaker slots -- you could wire every outlet to its own circuit which would probably require 80 breakers. Or you can load up a bunch and have a code minimum install. The load on the panel is the same either way.

Your home may or may not require an increase in wire size. Since you have a meter main, the wire feeding it is based on power company rules and would be woefully undersized by NEC rules. If you have Service Entrance Conductors (the wires from a separate meter to a panel) those limit your breaker size (and I would install 200A rated wires even if you main breaker is smaller to support future growth).

Reducing the main breaker is a common implementation now because of solar, so don't know why these electricians are skeptical of that. Eaton now uses CSR main breakers in their 30 space are larger panels, for both their BR line and CH line. So CSR breakers are easy to find and inexpensive in 125, 150 and 200 amp sizes. If you really can't go over 100A, then you need to take a different approach and perhaps that's what the electricians were thinking. These are usually a back fed regular double pole breaker and the panels are generally limited to 125A. They also tend to be limited in size (generally 22 usable slots or less). A Meter Main type panel also limits your choices.

Finally, I'm not sure if your existing panel has a true 100A main or if it is a higher amp split bus panel (meaning the top 6 slots are always hot, and the 100A breaker at the bottom of those 6 feeds a separate panel below it). Putting the main in the middle is unusual, and there have been many panel design variants so maybe that was what was intended. Split bus panels were popular in the 60's to 70's. The only way to know what you really have is to open it up and look to see what size wire is feeding the meter and if that 100A main is a true main or if it is split bus. The panel part number and rating should be labeled inside. I have heard of concerns regarding opening Zinsco panels, so have the electricians do it and you should probably turn off every breaker just to be safe.
Yea, logically it makes sense to me how you are describing it to be. Unless the way I was trying to explain it didn't make sense to them but it seems pretty straightforward to me. It was weird that BOTH seemed to have issues. Actually, the first may have just been misunderstanding what I was saying because he was talking about bringing in a 225a panel for solar related stuff too. I don't know, this stuff is so foreign to me. I'll talk to more contractors to see what they have to say.

EDIT: actually, I think the electrician's concern might be that someone would swap the 200a main breaker back into the panel and basically be operating on 200a instead of the 125a or whatever limit the electric company has imposed. On that note, if something like this is even possible, why can't the electric company control it at the transformer box by placing 'limiters' or another breaker something that control/limit the # of amps that are running to the house?
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by lazydavid »

jplee3 wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 10:11 pm EDIT: actually, I think the electrician's concern might be that someone would swap the 200a main breaker back into the panel and basically be operating on 200a instead of the 125a or whatever limit the electric company has imposed.
That is absolutely their concern, although the limit is not imposed by the electric company, it's enforced by the National Electrical Code and/or local building codes (most localities just adopt the NEC) based on the gauge of wire at the service entrance.

But to echo another poster's point, this panel and this one are identical--the only difference is the included main breaker. Clearly the panel itself is rated for at least 200A, but they also sell it with a 150A breaker for cases where that is all code will allow. If your wiring will support 150A, this could be an option for you, and again you could always buy the 200A breaker later should the need arise.
jplee3 wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 10:11 pm On that note, if something like this is even possible, why can't the electric company control it at the transformer box by placing 'limiters' or another breaker something that control/limit the # of amps that are running to the house?
This is absolutely possible, and the reason they don't do it is because it benefits them in no way. If they put a "main breaker" on or adjacent to the meter and something goes wrong with it, then it's their responsibility and they have to roll a truck. Conversely if you overload the wiring at your service entrance and burn your house down, that's not their problem. No organization is going to choose guaranteed expense and potential liability when the alternative is zero expense and zero incremental liability.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by ClevrChico »

RetiredArtist wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 6:11 pm Similar risk with Federal Pacific electric panels. Our building had them, probably installed in the 1970's. Best to update.

https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Rele ... -Consumers
I agree, I went through a similar thing with a Federal Pacific. The electricians put in a new panel, all new light switches, all new receptacles and with GFCI where required by code. It was great having it all done at once by pros.

It was one of the best home improvement projects to this house that was done.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by Tubes »

Yeah, a big problem with Federal Pacific is you can't maintain them because there are no real parts available. Any breakers out there are almost certainly counterfeit. It seems that Zinsco is going in the same direction. You might find "new-old stock" out there. Is it new? Is it salvaged from a replaced panel? Who knows?

And then there is the issue of current code compliance with AFCI (mentioned above) for any future work.

So the inspector basically said: "As is, it is OK." But the inspector didn't point out you are stuck if anything needs maintenance, replacing or upgrade.

OP, it sounds like you are willing to upgrade but your biggest issue is with the utility since it is one of these integrated panels. It will take time for them to approve, electricians don't like to work with the utility, and it will likely cost you a lot (probably over $5000) to just upgrade the service wiring gauge.

To this I say: "You should grin and bear it." Find a good electrician and get the process going with the utility. Not only will you replace a troublesome load center, but you'll have a 200A service. It is my belief that 200A service will pretty much be required for everyone due to the move to everything electric.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by AllMostThere »

If Insurance Company says to replace there is no way around and must occur. These Zinsco panels have aluminum buss bars and other parts that may fail causing fire. These panels were installed in the 60's & 70's, so really need to be replaced. Inspector should have found this issue and I'm shocked this basic 1st safety item to check wasn't flagged. :oops: You may now have lost ability to negotiate with seller a price concession. I would think there is some liability claim potential on the inspector's insurance due to this major safety miss! Something to investigate.

While the lower amps originally installed may have been okay in the 60's and 70's, it will not pass muster with today's power needs. You are correct to review potential for 200 amp service install. Cost will be more, but not exponentially more. Yes, new 200 amp line will need to be installed from power pole to your house (mostly labor cost for underground or above ground line install, cost of actual new line, and any incremental permitting costs) and you will need new 200 amp panel. Yes, it will be costly, time consuming, and PITA, but your future self will thank you should you want more amps for EV, Hot Tub, Sauna, Workshop, etc. PITA aside, it makes sense given future power moves. Plus, it will be good investment for future sales potential.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
https://www.usinspect.com/blog/what-zin ... ld-i-care/

"...here are the major issues with Zinsco Panels:

Certain components of the panel contain aluminum
The connection between the breakers and bus bar is not solid
Bus bar corrodes easily
Breakers may appear to be off, yet internally the panel may be conducting power"
Last edited by AllMostThere on Tue Sep 28, 2021 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by indexfundfan »

I second the suggestion is to get the 200A panel and use a 125A main breaker for now. Ask the county or city permit department, they should be able to tell you definitively if they allow this.

In future when you are ready to install the EVSE for the electric car, you can probably roll in the cost of the amperage upgrade into the installation cost of the EVSE. With the move towards EVs, the tax credit for EVSE installation is likely to be extended.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by Fishing2retire »

OP as a Licensed electrician in the Midwest. Yes the inspector should have caught that. Zinsco panels and federal pacific panels are required in my county to be replaced no exceptions do to fire hazards. My county inspectors would not allow to put in a 125 amp breaker in a 200 amp panel. I would not do this personally as well as the electrical contractor is responsible if some handyman or homeowner decided they would just go ahead and put the 200 amp breaker in later down the road and cause a fire. recommendations would be replace with a 200 amp panel new feeders from the local electric company and keep you and your family safe. It’s expensive but the right decision.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

Fishing2retire wrote: Tue Sep 28, 2021 8:41 am OP as a Licensed electrician in the Midwest. Yes the inspector should have caught that. Zinsco panels and federal pacific panels are required in my county to be replaced no exceptions do to fire hazards. My county inspectors would not allow to put in a 125 amp breaker in a 200 amp panel. I would not do this personally as well as the electrical contractor is responsible if some handyman or homeowner decided they would just go ahead and put the 200 amp breaker in later down the road and cause a fire. recommendations would be replace with a 200 amp panel new feeders from the local electric company and keep you and your family safe. It’s expensive but the right decision.
He has been largely dismissive of this whole thing:
"That info below is on line if you google it but not in the CA Code Check Book.
As I stated before in my report it does say to have the electrical service panel evaluated
by an electrician to make his or her recommendations or upgrades. This is up to insurance companies how they want to handle this. In my 18 years of inspections this is my 1st time this ever came up from an insurance company but things do change and policies. There has never been a recall on that panel or mandate to replace."

and

"This is the first time I have ever heard of an insurance company bring anything up about a service panel.

I inspect and report on the visual condition of the panel, breakers and wiring. The only issue I found was the breakers not having AFCI breakers to current standards. You have copper wiring, if you had aluminum wiring that would be a reportable condition. You should have an electrician come out and inspect the condition of the panel and verify it is safe and or he may recommend upgrading the panel to current standards.

Most all of the homes in Laguna Woods have Zinsco panels and have never heard of insurance company tell them to replace the panel.


Section 4.0 - Electrical (in the report)

There are a wide variety of electrical systems with an even greater variety of components, and any one particular system may not conform to current standards or provide the same degree of service and safety. What is most significant about electrical systems however is that the national electrical code [NEC] is not retroactive, and therefore many residential systems do not comply with the latest safety standards. Regardless, we are not electricians and in compliance with our standards of practice we only test a representative number of switches and outlets and do not perform load-calculations to determine if the supply meets the demand. However, in the interests of safety, we regard every electrical deficiency and recommended upgrade as a latent hazard that should be serviced as soon as possible, and that the entire system be evaluated and certified as safe by an electrician. Therefore, it is essential that any recommendations that we may make for service or upgrades should be completed before the close of escrow, because an electrician could reveal additional deficiencies or recommend some upgrades for which we would disclaim any further responsibility. However, we typically recommend upgrading outlets to have ground fault protection, which is a relatively inexpensive but essential safety feature. These outlets are often referred to as GFCI's, or ground fault circuit interrupters and, generally speaking, have been required in specific locations for more than thirty years, beginning with swimming pools and exterior outlets in 1971, and the list has been added to ever since: bathrooms in 1975, garages in 1978, spas and hot tubs in 1981, hydro tubs, massage equipment, boat houses, kitchens, and unfinished basements in 1987, crawlspaces in 1990, wet bars in 1993, and all kitchen countertop outlets with the exception of refrigerator and freezer outlets since 1996. Similarly, AFCI's or arc fault circuit interrupters, represent the very latest in circuit breaker technology, and have been required in all bedroom circuits since 2002. However, inasmuch as arc faults cause thousands of electrical fires and hundreds of deaths each year, we categorically recommend installing them at every circuit as a prudent safety feature."
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by hand »

jplee3 wrote: Tue Sep 28, 2021 10:14 am
He has been largely dismissive of this whole thing:
"That info below is on line if you google it but not in the CA Code Check Book.
As I stated before in my report it does say to have the electrical service panel evaluated
by an electrician to make his or her recommendations or upgrades. This is up to insurance companies how they want to handle this. In my 18 years of inspections this is my 1st time this ever came up from an insurance company but things do change and policies. There has never been a recall on that panel or mandate to replace."
Why are you arguing with the inspector - they screwed up (or at least did you a major disservice), and are now only motivated to try to convince you not to sue / post a negative review. You will *never* convince them, and if you have any sense, you will not let them convince you.

In all likelihood, your inspectors liability is limited contractually to the $500 or so you paid them and not worth your time or effort to fight further.

Post a review noting the Zinsco panel, the inspector's failure to flag and their quote about how it is not a reportable item as well as the link to the US Inspect blog and let future clients decide for themselves... then move on.
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jplee3
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

hand wrote: Tue Sep 28, 2021 10:27 am
jplee3 wrote: Tue Sep 28, 2021 10:14 am
He has been largely dismissive of this whole thing:
"That info below is on line if you google it but not in the CA Code Check Book.
As I stated before in my report it does say to have the electrical service panel evaluated
by an electrician to make his or her recommendations or upgrades. This is up to insurance companies how they want to handle this. In my 18 years of inspections this is my 1st time this ever came up from an insurance company but things do change and policies. There has never been a recall on that panel or mandate to replace."
Why are you arguing with the inspector - they screwed up (or at least did you a major disservice), and are now only motivated to try to convince you not to sue / post a negative review. You will *never* convince them, and if you have any sense, you will not let them convince you.

In all likelihood, your inspectors liability is limited contractually to the $500 or so you paid them and not worth your time or effort to fight further.

Post a review noting the Zinsco panel, the inspector's failure to flag and their quote about how it is not a reportable item as well as the link to the US Inspect blog and let future clients decide for themselves... then move on.

Where do you suggest posting the review? Yelp? The guy wants me to call him right now... not sure I want to talk to him or hear what he has to say (I expect to hear more excuses).

Is it worth my time filing an ethics complaint? https://www.creia.org/dispute-help#ethics-complaint
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by Nate79 »

I think you are wasting your precious time with the home inspector. Move on and work on fixing your problem.
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Tubes
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by Tubes »

Nate79 wrote: Tue Sep 28, 2021 11:48 am I think you are wasting your precious time with the home inspector. Move on and work on fixing your problem.
Agree. Sunk cost. Move on. You didn't hire the best inspector, but don't worry, because you are far from the first to do so.

Your inspector should have noted that beyond the fact you don't have AFCI breakers, you won't be able to drop in a UL rated ACFI in this panel. So it is more than not having ACFI. His recommendation would require at minimum a subpanel (more or less a hack) or a new panel. So this is is a big issue for you during purchase price negotiations.

And everyone having these panels doesn't make it safe. Everyone smoked at one time too.

Focus on the fix. Move forward.

BTW: the history of the CPSC's study of the Federal Pacific panels is beyond interesting. They basically said there was a problem, but blamed budget cuts on making a call for a recall (this is from 1984). I'm guessing they didn't want to have the burden of calling for a recall because of the huge issue that would be. In other words, just because Zinscos and FPEs are out there, not recalled, doesn't make them safe. Don't depend on the regulators to be on our side.

For the record, here's what CPSC said about FPEs. Very wishy-washy.
https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Rele ... -Consumers
The Commission staff believes that it currently has insufficient data to accept or refute Reliance's position.

The Commission staff estimates that it would cost several million dollars to gather the data necessary to assess fully whether those circuit breakers that are installed in homes but which may fail UL calibration tests present a risk to the public. Based on the Commission's limited budget ($34 million for fiscal year 1983), the known hazards the Commission has identified and must address (involving products of other manufacturers) and the uncertainty of the results of such a costly investigation, the Commission has decided not to commit further resources to its investigation of FPE's circuit breakers.
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jplee3
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

Tubes wrote: Tue Sep 28, 2021 12:43 pm
Nate79 wrote: Tue Sep 28, 2021 11:48 am I think you are wasting your precious time with the home inspector. Move on and work on fixing your problem.
Agree. Sunk cost. Move on. You didn't hire the best inspector, but don't worry, because you are far from the first to do so.

Your inspector should have noted that beyond the fact you don't have AFCI breakers, you won't be able to drop in a UL rated ACFI in this panel. So it is more than not having ACFI. His recommendation would require at minimum a subpanel (more or less a hack) or a new panel. So this is is a big issue for you during purchase price negotiations.

And everyone having these panels doesn't make it safe. Everyone smoked at one time too.
Yea, I'm not happy with this guy. He also missed a LIVE GAS LEAK - several of us noted that we smelled gas in one of the bedrooms and pointed this out to him while he was there. He went in for a few seconds and brushed it off half-jokingly as "oh it must just be the guy who lives in here - you know, old guy smell" - we had the sellers bring the gas company out to check anyway and they ended up red-tagging the house and had to get a plumber in to resolve the issue. There was a baseboard finishing nail that went through the baseboard and drywall and lodged right into a flexible hose behind the wall in the bedroom closet where we noted the smell. They had to do multiple tests to determine the source of the leak, cut drywall, replace that run of cable, and patch everything back up. Fortunately, this was under the seller's watch (and wallet) but that's a huge miss. The inspector we used at the last place (that we backed out of) at least had a gas sniffer on him and when we said we smelled gas in the laundry room, he used it and confirmed that there was a gas leak at the valve for the dryer connection. I regret just not using that company again but this other inspector had first availability and per some other references/reviews he seemed pretty good (and we were in a bit of a hurry to get the inspections done - we shortened our window to 7 days to do it... so this was a bi-product of rushing in a hot market, but better than not doing one at all). Obviously, I won't be recommending him again. And maybe at a later time (after all the stuff we need to more urgently take care of) I'll leave some reviews and file complaints. I still think it's important to let others know about this guy... if I can save someone the trouble, I will.
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Tubes
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by Tubes »

:oops: Oh man! That's a nightmare. Glad you insisted on following up on the gas leak. I can't believe he blew it off like that. Fart gas or "old man" body odor does not really smell like the natural gas tracer. It is very specific. And he really shouldn't be showing his ageism either, jokingly or not.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by suemarkp »

jplee3 wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 10:11 pm EDIT: actually, I think the electrician's concern might be that someone would swap the 200a main breaker back into the panel and basically be operating on 200a instead of the 125a or whatever limit the electric company has imposed. On that note, if something like this is even possible, why can't the electric company control it at the transformer box by placing 'limiters' or another breaker something that control/limit the # of amps that are running to the house?
Swapping out the main is non trivial and i dont see a handyman doing that. It connects to the utility wire which can not be turned off unless you pull the meter. Depending on your utility, they may or may not know when you do that. To pull the meter you must break a seal. Utility will want to reinspect if seal is broken, and the purpose is just this - to make sure breaker size is correct and that you didnt bypass the meter to steal power. Many utilities want you to coordinate with them when pulling the meter

Utility power is not fused so there are no limiters other than your main breaker. They work on an inspection basis to verify load. But even that is not foolproof. Like i said, the utility wires to my 200 amp panel are way too small (#2 aluminum) based on NEC rules. Utility knows i have gas for most things but doesnt know about the added air conditioner. I changed the main breaker from 200 to 150 just so a future person doesnt try to pull 200 through it.
Mark | Somewhere in WA State
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jplee3
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

Tubes wrote: Tue Sep 28, 2021 1:38 pm :oops: Oh man! That's a nightmare. Glad you insisted on following up on the gas leak. I can't believe he blew it off like that. Fart gas or "old man" body odor does not really smell like the natural gas tracer. It is very specific. And he really shouldn't be showing his ageism either, jokingly or not.

Last response to his email where I asked what he wanted to talk about on the phone:
"just wanted to explain things better instead of typing. Let me know if you need anything."

I already know how that conversation is going to go, so I'm going to save my breath...

I have everything typed out in a Yelp review draft (including the gas leak and panel issue among other things)) and ready to submit. Another thing I alluded to is that he's HORRIBLE with documenting things with his camera - didn't take pictures of his moisture meter when he called out a wet wall and apparently came out lacking current tools of the trade. Prior inspector we used at another home had a FLIR gun and Gas sniffer and took pics *and* videos of EVERYTHING - seemingly small investments for any home inspector to keep on them, not necessarily for finding/discovering issues but at least for *confirming* them

I'm deliberating whether or not to submit the review... at least right now. If I submit now there's a chance he'll start pestering me - we have the move and prepping the place to worry about, let alone making sure the sellers are out when they're supposed to be and didn't cause any damage after they leave - already, we found [likely] rat droppings while getting some quotes for other things in the property last week....sigh.
Might be best to wait until after we move in. I'm seriously considering filing an ethics complaint as well. Not necessarily for the sake of getting a refund but for the principle and making sure the guy is held accountable.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by cchrissyy »

I have everything typed out in a Yelp review draft (including the gas leak and panel issue among other things)) and ready to submit.
no don't do this

1) the situation with the panel isn't over yet. wait until you fully understand the problem and have fixed it before you write about it.

2) you might still need this guy for some other issue that emerges after you move in. do you want to burn the relationship now, or do you want to be able to email him in a few weeks when you have a question about the drainage or the garage door or whatever?

the good folks at Yelp can wait a couple months for your experience
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jplee3
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

cchrissyy wrote: Tue Sep 28, 2021 2:20 pm
I have everything typed out in a Yelp review draft (including the gas leak and panel issue among other things)) and ready to submit.
no don't do this

1) the situation with the panel isn't over yet. wait until you fully understand the problem and have fixed it before you write about it.

2) you might still need this guy for some other issue that emerges after you move in. do you want to burn the relationship now, or do you want to be able to email him in a few weeks when you have a question about the drainage or the garage door or whatever?

the good folks at Yelp can wait a couple months for your experience
Hi Cchrissyy! Honestly, there's not *that* much that he called out in the report. The only other 'big' item is the wet wall, which is already past the point of him offering any more useful advice (in which case all he told me was to have a mold inspector come out...stating the obvious lol).
The panel we're pretty much set on replacing either way, whether he thinks it's a problem or not. Insurance already has stated it's a problem (and made this available for all other insurance companies to see via CLUE report) so the damage is done there IMO. Anything else that was called out, his tendency is to reply with "You need to have a qualified person come look at it further"

That said, I'll wait to pull the trigger on it. I'll review his report once more for any potential issues of concerns but I doubt I'll ever need this guy again.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by cchrissyy »

don't know if it's helpful for you but i bought a house last year where it had electrical work done recently enough that the invoice was included in the disclosures packet. CA bay area.

Install new 200 amp main electrical service to replace existing “Federal Pacific” brand equipment. To include new arc-fault circuit breakers where required and new grounding/bonding system. $3,300.00

Remove existing “Federal Pacific” subpanel in kitchen cabinet and move all circuits into new main electrical panel. Circuits to be controlled by new arc-fault circuit breakers. $1,500.00

Clean up misc. items around home; including old low voltage equipment, phone lines, speaker wires, etc $100.00

Install new 30 amp 220 volt circuit to power new dual fuel range $450.00

TOTAL: $5,350.00
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jplee3
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

cchrissyy wrote: Tue Sep 28, 2021 4:25 pm don't know if it's helpful for you but i bought a house last year where it had electrical work done recently enough that the invoice was included in the disclosures packet. CA bay area.

Install new 200 amp main electrical service to replace existing “Federal Pacific” brand equipment. To include new arc-fault circuit breakers where required and new grounding/bonding system. $3,300.00

Remove existing “Federal Pacific” subpanel in kitchen cabinet and move all circuits into new main electrical panel. Circuits to be controlled by new arc-fault circuit breakers. $1,500.00

Clean up misc. items around home; including old low voltage equipment, phone lines, speaker wires, etc $100.00

Install new 30 amp 220 volt circuit to power new dual fuel range $450.00

TOTAL: $5,350.00

Thanks - that's definitely a good reference. That price looks fair to me for a 200a panel upgrade, moving it to a different location AND putting in the AFCI breakers. Assuming the my local power company doesn't initially approve the 200amp panel, I think they'll force me to trench and replace the feeder wire in order to get that approval, which it sounds like may at least double or triple the cost of what I've been quoted so far :(
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

Quick update. I got in touch with another licensed electrician who also works for the 'competing' power company in the area but installs panels on the side. He told me he's highly confident that the feeder going into my home is via conduit and likely that getting a 200a panel in isn't going to be a problem. He said that it would only be a problem if they had dropped the cable in directly to the dirt and covered it up w/o conduit, in which case you'd have to go through the whole ordeal of trenching etc.

HOWEVER, he's saying now that the fact that the gas meter is sitting directly below the panel is going to be a problem. The gas company needs to relocate the meter so that's going to introduce another party into the picture. He was telling me that in his experience, my gas company may take up to 2 months to actually hear back from. His pricing seems fair at around $3000-3200. I did an estimate of relocating the gas meter via the Gas company's online estimator tool and it tells me $600 for that. So it seems like this would cost around $4000 max and getting to 200a shouldn't be a problem.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by Nicolas »

Have you already closed on the house? If the insurance company won’t cover you till it’s fixed that means you own a house with no insurance for weeks/months until the fix is in place? Too risky, why not find another insurance company that will cover you? You can’t go without insurance for that amount of time, or for any amount of time! Did the previous owner have insurance? I think he did, find out what company it was.
You never miss your water till your well runs dry.
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jplee3
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

Nicolas wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 12:15 am Have you already closed on the house? If the insurance company won’t cover you till it’s fixed that means you own a house with no insurance for weeks/months until the fix is in place? Too risky, why not find another insurance company that will cover you? You can’t go without insurance for that amount of time, or for any amount of time! Did the previous owner have insurance? I think he did, find out what company it was.
Yes, we closed and already had purchased insurance (couldn't close without it). What they are requesting now is that we fix the issue but if we don't do it they basically won't renew the policy for the *next* year. We've already paid the current policy that's in place.

Also, now this item regarding the panel is in our CLUE report so any insurance provider will see it. I think we're OK at this point but we do want to get that box replaced/updated.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by dandinsac »

I went through a similar situation a few years ago with a house that had a Zinsco panel. In 2013, my home inspector included this in his report

Manufacturer: Zinsco The exterior metal panel cover top hinges are loose. Repair/re-secure, as necessary.
Max Capacity: 100 Amps
Main Breaker Size: 100 Amps

I didn’t know about the issues with Zinsco, and it didn’t come up until I was doing a kitchen renovation. I ended up doing the replacement then. One thing I did add was to make sure the new panel was “solar ready” in case I ever wanted to add solar in the future. This was a $125 adder.

I also had an insurance company threaten to cancel my insurance if I didn’t remove moss from my roof. I got a new insurance company at that time and they never had a concern with moss.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by snackdog »

Get rid of the Z panel. We had one and nearly burned the house down. Faulty breakers don’t trip and wires burn up in the walls.
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jplee3
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

dandinsac wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 7:05 am I went through a similar situation a few years ago with a house that had a Zinsco panel. In 2013, my home inspector included this in his report

Manufacturer: Zinsco The exterior metal panel cover top hinges are loose. Repair/re-secure, as necessary.
Max Capacity: 100 Amps
Main Breaker Size: 100 Amps

I didn’t know about the issues with Zinsco, and it didn’t come up until I was doing a kitchen renovation. I ended up doing the replacement then. One thing I did add was to make sure the new panel was “solar ready” in case I ever wanted to add solar in the future. This was a $125 adder.

I also had an insurance company threaten to cancel my insurance if I didn’t remove moss from my roof. I got a new insurance company at that time and they never had a concern with moss.

Interesting, so he called out the fact that it was a Zinsco based on identification of the panel manufacturer but he didn't mention that there at least *might* be some concern around this or that these have a bad track record, etc?

How big is the new panel? I'd imagine for solar you want at least 200-225a?
snackdog wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 7:12 am Get rid of the Z panel. We had one and nearly burned the house down. Faulty breakers don’t trip and wires burn up in the walls.
Definitely, at this point we're planning to update regardless. It's just that the process with the electric company is long and arduous apparently. We'll see. I think I trust this electrician the most based on yesterday's conversation. His explanations just made the most sense to me and I trust him more based on the fact that he actually works for the major power company here.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by dandinsac »

jplee3 wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 10:00 am
Interesting, so he called out the fact that it was a Zinsco based on identification of the panel manufacturer but he didn't mention that there at least *might* be some concern around this or that these have a bad track record, etc?

How big is the new panel? I'd imagine for solar you want at least 200-225a?
Yep, no mention of the issues with Zinsco.

We installed a 200A panel.It was a bit easier since the service was overhead.
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jplee3
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

So I heard back from the power company and they are giving me 2 options basically:

1) Move gas line to the outside AND modify your existing closet to conform to code with the updated panel, which means leveling out the floor of the closet (in which case there's currently a step) and a number of other things to match the dimensions they spell out in their requirements

2) Move/relocate the electric panel/meter outside of the closet which will then require trenching and laying larger conduit...

Both options are completely on my dime. Pick your poison.


smh... surprise after surprise...

This is going to end up costing more than an arm and a leg.
ralph124cf
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by ralph124cf »

Let this be an actionable lesson to us all: Always install a bigger conduit than you think you need. You never know what you will need in the future.

Ralph
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by BH_RedRan »

Not to pile on but...

AFCI circuit breaker retro-fits are not always a walk in the park either. Sometimes prior owners may have tapped into wires or otherwise changed house wiring branch circuits that are a problem with AFCI circuit breakers. The result being that the AFCI breakers "nuisance trip". Be sure that your quote includes the electrician chasing down and repairing any branch circuit wiring issues that could cause issues for the AFCI breaker functionality.

Codes vary from county to county (and city to city) so be sure to get the answers from your local authority as well as the power company.

Regarding putting a smaller main in a higher rated panel, the practicality of an owner changing out the main breaker is about nil. They would have to pull the meter to remove the power first or be very, very brave.

BTW, what's up with that open wiring box at the lower-left corner of the photo?
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by Tubes »

jplee3 wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 8:04 pm This is going to end up costing more than an arm and a leg.
Consider it an investment. 10 years from now when you want to sell, your service and panel will be EV-ready. Your neighbors will have 100 amp services and will be in a bind. Your house will sell, theirs won't.

I read recently in Car and Driver that about 15% of services to homes in California will have to be upgraded in order to charge an EV.

BTW, I'm not an EV guy. But I can also read the writing on the wall.

One more thing... Even if you are not an EV person, you should consider getting a 240 drop to your garage/parking area while you hire out your electrician and have the place trenched and the walls apart. Better now than later.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

Tubes wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 5:15 am
jplee3 wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 8:04 pm This is going to end up costing more than an arm and a leg.
Consider it an investment. 10 years from now when you want to sell, your service and panel will be EV-ready. Your neighbors will have 100 amp services and will be in a bind. Your house will sell, theirs won't.

I read recently in Car and Driver that about 15% of services to homes in California will have to be upgraded in order to charge an EV.

BTW, I'm not an EV guy. But I can also read the writing on the wall.

One more thing... Even if you are not an EV person, you should consider getting a 240 drop to your garage/parking area while you hire out your electrician and have the place trenched and the walls apart. Better now than later.
Yea... I'm just wondering which option is the best option to pursue at the moment: is it better to relocate the gas meter and make modifications to the utility closet? Or is it better to relocate the electrical panel and deal with trenching? I tend to lean towards the former though it may take longer to accomplish... trenching just sounds way more expensive. But what do I know... modifying a closet to specific standards and dimensions may also cost more than I'd imagine.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by curmudgeon »

jplee3 wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 1:32 pm
Tubes wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 5:15 am
jplee3 wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 8:04 pm This is going to end up costing more than an arm and a leg.
Consider it an investment. 10 years from now when you want to sell, your service and panel will be EV-ready. Your neighbors will have 100 amp services and will be in a bind. Your house will sell, theirs won't.

I read recently in Car and Driver that about 15% of services to homes in California will have to be upgraded in order to charge an EV.

BTW, I'm not an EV guy. But I can also read the writing on the wall.

One more thing... Even if you are not an EV person, you should consider getting a 240 drop to your garage/parking area while you hire out your electrician and have the place trenched and the walls apart. Better now than later.
Yea... I'm just wondering which option is the best option to pursue at the moment: is it better to relocate the gas meter and make modifications to the utility closet? Or is it better to relocate the electrical panel and deal with trenching? I tend to lean towards the former though it may take longer to accomplish... trenching just sounds way more expensive. But what do I know... modifying a closet to specific standards and dimensions may also cost more than I'd imagine.
I would guess that relocating the panel could be pretty painful. The problem is that you've got all the house wiring circuits terminating there, and those wires may not reach to the new location. Moving the gas meter would seem much more straightforward; you can add lengths of pipe without an issue.

That panel really looks stretched to the max, with all the half-size breakers which are normally only used when you have run out of slots. If you can get your feed upgraded at a moderate cost, I'd probably go that way along with replacing the panel. There's a definite risk that at some point the neighborhood service will require upgrading to support all those EVs, and you don't want to be the one who has to pay for that (there was a thread about that recently for someone in norcal who needs an upgraded drop to support their ADU and they are being put on the hook for stuff well beyond their property). Solar doesn't put much demand on the panel, mostly just needs a 220v slot, but if there's any chance you might add that, this is the time to do the prep for that and EV charging.
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Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by jplee3 »

curmudgeon wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 2:19 pm
jplee3 wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 1:32 pm
Tubes wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 5:15 am
jplee3 wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 8:04 pm This is going to end up costing more than an arm and a leg.
Consider it an investment. 10 years from now when you want to sell, your service and panel will be EV-ready. Your neighbors will have 100 amp services and will be in a bind. Your house will sell, theirs won't.

I read recently in Car and Driver that about 15% of services to homes in California will have to be upgraded in order to charge an EV.

BTW, I'm not an EV guy. But I can also read the writing on the wall.

One more thing... Even if you are not an EV person, you should consider getting a 240 drop to your garage/parking area while you hire out your electrician and have the place trenched and the walls apart. Better now than later.
Yea... I'm just wondering which option is the best option to pursue at the moment: is it better to relocate the gas meter and make modifications to the utility closet? Or is it better to relocate the electrical panel and deal with trenching? I tend to lean towards the former though it may take longer to accomplish... trenching just sounds way more expensive. But what do I know... modifying a closet to specific standards and dimensions may also cost more than I'd imagine.
I would guess that relocating the panel could be pretty painful. The problem is that you've got all the house wiring circuits terminating there, and those wires may not reach to the new location. Moving the gas meter would seem much more straightforward; you can add lengths of pipe without an issue.

That panel really looks stretched to the max, with all the half-size breakers which are normally only used when you have run out of slots. If you can get your feed upgraded at a moderate cost, I'd probably go that way along with replacing the panel. There's a definite risk that at some point the neighborhood service will require upgrading to support all those EVs, and you don't want to be the one who has to pay for that (there was a thread about that recently for someone in norcal who needs an upgraded drop to support their ADU and they are being put on the hook for stuff well beyond their property). Solar doesn't put much demand on the panel, mostly just needs a 220v slot, but if there's any chance you might add that, this is the time to do the prep for that and EV charging.
Hmm... so I had a roofer come out to survey damage from recent fumigation and he quoted me $1800 for replacing all the damaged tiles. These are those delicate Spanish clay half-barrel tiles that break easily when you walk on them. Termite company said there were 19 broken already and 55 broken by the time they were done. Roofer counted about twice that :( Anyway, he was saying DO NOT put solar panels on this kind of roof - you're just asking for leaks galore. I see multiple homes with these roofs in the neighborhood with solar panels so I kind of wonder... unless we change the roof material completely, I'm not sure how to go about the whole solar thing.

I'm confused about your comment regarding neighborhood service and upgrading to support EVs and how I don't want to be the one who has to pay for it - are you saying the power company will charge me for additional stuff beyond the original scope of work? How/when would this be the case?
curmudgeon
Posts: 2309
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:00 pm

Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by curmudgeon »

jplee3 wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 2:59 pm
curmudgeon wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 2:19 pm I would guess that relocating the panel could be pretty painful. The problem is that you've got all the house wiring circuits terminating there, and those wires may not reach to the new location. Moving the gas meter would seem much more straightforward; you can add lengths of pipe without an issue.

That panel really looks stretched to the max, with all the half-size breakers which are normally only used when you have run out of slots. If you can get your feed upgraded at a moderate cost, I'd probably go that way along with replacing the panel. There's a definite risk that at some point the neighborhood service will require upgrading to support all those EVs, and you don't want to be the one who has to pay for that (there was a thread about that recently for someone in norcal who needs an upgraded drop to support their ADU and they are being put on the hook for stuff well beyond their property). Solar doesn't put much demand on the panel, mostly just needs a 220v slot, but if there's any chance you might add that, this is the time to do the prep for that and EV charging.
Hmm... so I had a roofer come out to survey damage from recent fumigation and he quoted me $1800 for replacing all the damaged tiles. These are those delicate Spanish clay half-barrel tiles that break easily when you walk on them. Termite company said there were 19 broken already and 55 broken by the time they were done. Roofer counted about twice that :( Anyway, he was saying DO NOT put solar panels on this kind of roof - you're just asking for leaks galore. I see multiple homes with these roofs in the neighborhood with solar panels so I kind of wonder... unless we change the roof material completely, I'm not sure how to go about the whole solar thing.

I'm confused about your comment regarding neighborhood service and upgrading to support EVs and how I don't want to be the one who has to pay for it - are you saying the power company will charge me for additional stuff beyond the original scope of work? How/when would this be the case?
I'd be very cautious about putting solar on an actual clay tile roof. Concrete tile (which looks somewhat similar) is stronger, but I'd still think carefully. If I really wanted to do solar, I'd pick the installer carefully; maybe one that would combine relaying the roof and putting down new roofing paper under the tiles with the solar project.

The neighborhood service issue is something that was new to me in a recent discussion, and I don't know the details. If everybody upgrades to 200 amp service, in theory the neighborhood needs bigger power lines and transformers, and that can get expensive, so who pays. The case I referred to might well have only been an issue because there was a new "dwelling unit" involved, and so the owner was effectively taking on the role of "developer" without having understood the complications. It's a bit like when you build on a property at the edge of town, the city may make you extend large-scale water and sewer mains for the length of your road frontage, even though your project itself needs very small service lines; as a developer you are on the hook for the expensive upgrades. In existing neighborhoods, I suspect there is a lot of power infrastructure that's not sized to handle hundreds of EVs charging overnight (especially as many of these areas in CA are also having higher A/C usage as comfort expectations have changed).
Big Dog
Posts: 2838
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2015 4:12 pm

Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by Big Dog »

jplee3 wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 2:59 pm
curmudgeon wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 2:19 pm
jplee3 wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 1:32 pm
Tubes wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 5:15 am
jplee3 wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 8:04 pm This is going to end up costing more than an arm and a leg.
Consider it an investment. 10 years from now when you want to sell, your service and panel will be EV-ready. Your neighbors will have 100 amp services and will be in a bind. Your house will sell, theirs won't.

I read recently in Car and Driver that about 15% of services to homes in California will have to be upgraded in order to charge an EV.

BTW, I'm not an EV guy. But I can also read the writing on the wall.

One more thing... Even if you are not an EV person, you should consider getting a 240 drop to your garage/parking area while you hire out your electrician and have the place trenched and the walls apart. Better now than later.
Yea... I'm just wondering which option is the best option to pursue at the moment: is it better to relocate the gas meter and make modifications to the utility closet? Or is it better to relocate the electrical panel and deal with trenching? I tend to lean towards the former though it may take longer to accomplish... trenching just sounds way more expensive. But what do I know... modifying a closet to specific standards and dimensions may also cost more than I'd imagine.
I would guess that relocating the panel could be pretty painful. The problem is that you've got all the house wiring circuits terminating there, and those wires may not reach to the new location. Moving the gas meter would seem much more straightforward; you can add lengths of pipe without an issue.

That panel really looks stretched to the max, with all the half-size breakers which are normally only used when you have run out of slots. If you can get your feed upgraded at a moderate cost, I'd probably go that way along with replacing the panel. There's a definite risk that at some point the neighborhood service will require upgrading to support all those EVs, and you don't want to be the one who has to pay for that (there was a thread about that recently for someone in norcal who needs an upgraded drop to support their ADU and they are being put on the hook for stuff well beyond their property). Solar doesn't put much demand on the panel, mostly just needs a 220v slot, but if there's any chance you might add that, this is the time to do the prep for that and EV charging.
Hmm... so I had a roofer come out to survey damage from recent fumigation and he quoted me $1800 for replacing all the damaged tiles. These are those delicate Spanish clay half-barrel tiles that break easily when you walk on them. Termite company said there were 19 broken already and 55 broken by the time they were done. Roofer counted about twice that :( Anyway, he was saying DO NOT put solar panels on this kind of roof - you're just asking for leaks galore. I see multiple homes with these roofs in the neighborhood with solar panels so I kind of wonder... unless we change the roof material completely, I'm not sure how to go about the whole solar thing.

I'm confused about your comment regarding neighborhood service and upgrading to support EVs and how I don't want to be the one who has to pay for it - are you saying the power company will charge me for additional stuff beyond the original scope of work? How/when would this be the case?
Putting solar on Spanish clay tile roofs is doable, but costs more. Plenty of folks in Florida put solar on tile. That said, find a company that specializes in tile roofs. (Drilling thru the tiles is tricky, since they easily crack and break and need to be replaced.) One of our friends added solar to her tile roof in SoCal and she said that they had to contact several installers to find one with references. (She's a Tesla owner, but Tesla turned them down saying that they would not put Tesla Solar on a tile roof.)

btw: do you have a lawn gardener? He could do the trenching a lot cheaper than an electrician. Also, do you have an EV? SoCal Edison used to offer a nice rebate on folks who upgraded panels for EVs, so you might check with SDG&E if they have something similar.
Joylush
Posts: 57
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2015 7:47 am

Re: Zinsco box called out by insurance on new home...

Post by Joylush »

Your inspector did what he was supposed to do. Reported what the panel was. I have one in a house. Some insurance companies won’t insure it. Others will. It’s the insurance company who is telling you they don’t want the risk. And inspector looks for things like double tapped breakers which need to be fixed. There may be nothing wrong with your Zinsco panel. The problem for the insurance company is it is a Zinsco panel.

I sold a house once that also had a panel the insurance companies don’t like. So in order to complete the sale I was required to replace it even though it had been replaced not ten years prior. At the time it was installed it wasn’t a problem, then insurance companies decided it was. Nothing to do with your inspector.
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