Many homes built from the mid 60’s to late 70’s have electrical systems installed using aluminum wiring. Questions arise concerning the safety of aluminum wiring. Purchasers and owners of homes built in this time period quickly discover that many insurers will not provide or renew insurance coverage for some properties, unless corrective actions are implemented.
Reported problems with aluminum wiring have been related to overheating, and failure of aluminum wiring connections at the termination points (splices, switches and outlets). This is due to the tendency of aluminum to oxidize and its incompatibility with devices designed for copper wiring.
Some myths and facts concerning aluminum wiring.
- Aluminum wiring was recalled because it is known to be a fire hazard
- Aluminum wiring is no longer used for interior wiring systems
- Aluminum wiring is still permitted and used for certain applications, including residential service entrance wiring and single purpose higher amperage circuits such as 240 V air conditioning/electric range circuits. The fire risk from single purpose circuits vs. branch circuits is reduced.
- Aluminum wiring is safe provided steps have been taken to ensure proper connections and terminations, and approved devices (outlets and switches) compatible with both aluminum and copper wiring are installed.
- Aluminum wiring is permitted by the Alberta Electrical Safety Code for larger commercial and industrial feeders as well as supply service cable to residences.
Should aluminum wiring be noted the inspector will report its presence and recommend corrective measures such as hiring a qualified electrical contractor knowledgeable in the techniques required to mitigate the deficiencies in aluminum wiring installations. An assessment, repairs and inspection of the work by the Electrical Safety Authority are all part of a proper mitigation plan.
Identifying aluminum wiring in the home is one advantage of a Pre-Sale Home Inspection from A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections. Prior knowledge of the presence of aluminum wiring presents advantages to the seller, the realtor and prospective buyers in the negotiations leading to a successful sales transaction.