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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: Copper prices started to increase dramatically in the mid 60’s. See this chart, from macrotrends.net You will see that in 1963 the average price of copper was under 30 cents per lbs, and by 1966 that price had doubled.
Builders, always looking to save some money, chose to use aluminum wiring, which was believed to be a safe (and economical) alternative. Actually, aluminum IS still considered safe, unless and until homeowners change lights or plugs and use the wrong fixtures.
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
- 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. I hope that you’ve found this article to be helpful. 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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