Aluminum Wiring & Your Home

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It seems that our home and property insurance companies are making things a little more difficult for home buyers and sellers once again.  Just as they’ve recently done with ‘knob & tube wiring’ , they are now questioning the safety of aluminum wiring in homes.  A little background:

Aluminum became popular in the early 60’s, when the price of aluminum was far below the price of copper.  Builders, always looking to save some money, chose to use aluminum wiring, which was believed to be safe (and economical) alternative.  Actually, aluminum IS still considered safe, unless and until homeowners change lights or plugs and use the wrong fixtures.

Aluminum wiring, if not properly installed and maintained, CAN cause problems

The problem with aluminum wiring

Aluminum and copper are dis-similar metals, and as such, expand and contract at different rates.  So when a homeowner replaces a switch with a copper-type switch, and connects the aluminum wire, over time the connection can become loosened, causing sparks and possibly fire.  The same goes for light fixtures, plugs and other fixtures.  Homeowners are advised to have a qualified electrician complete this type of work.  Approved marettes (the little plastic caps) must be used when installing new lighting to aluminum wiring.  For switches and plugs, aluminum rated items must be used.

Does aluminum wiring have to be removed from the home?

Certainly not….but extra care should be taken:  One home inspector told me that homeowners WITH aluminum wiring, should be inspecting and tightening the connections on all of their devices (lights, plugs, switches…etc) once every 5 to 6 years.

ADD_THIS_TEXT

Until recently, when a home with aluminum is sold to a new owner , the NEW insurance company has been asking for an electrical inspection.  While an inconvenience, home-owners were being ‘grandfathered’ and left in peace so long as they kept renewing their home insurance.     This is apparently about to change:

Electrical Inspection Required

I just received a call from someone who advised that their home insurance company now asked for an electrical inspection before RENEWING their home insurance.  They were not selling,… simply renewing with the same insurance company they’ve had for many years.

If your home is built between the early 1960, and into approx. 1976, it is ‘possible’ that aluminum was used in your home.  Certainly not every home was built with aluminum, but especially homes in

  • Windsor Park
  • Southdale,
  • North and East Kildonan and
  • St Vital
  • St James

are knows to have this type of wiring.  Before selling your home, it’s a good idea to check.

If you can, pop off a light switch cover and see if the wiring is shiny silver (don’t touch it), or if its a coppery, brassy colour.  If it’s the former (shiny silver) it would appear that you’ve got aluminum wiring.

To get an electrical inspection of your home, call a qualified electrician.  If you need a referral to one, let me know in the comments below and I’ll put you in touch with a reputable electrical company.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. The problem arises when lights and switches are upgraded by an owner, and proper care is not taken to make the connections correctly.

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