Buying A House with Aluminum Wiring

Do you have aluminum wiring in your home?

This is an issue that comes up from time to time in home inspections and, it can be a concern for home buyers.  Some home insurers will not insure a house with this type of wiring claiming it is a fire hazard.

It is estimated that there are over 450,000 homes in Canada that are wired with aluminum wiring.  It was commonly used from 1965 to 1977.  But is it really a problem?

According to most home inspectors I’ve talked to, the issue is not the wiring itself but rather, it is the connections that cause the problem.  Wiring made of aluminum heats and cools causing it to expand and contract which in turn can cause connections to come loose.  A live wire dangling in a wall is not a good idea!

It’s not always possible to determine if you have aluminum wiring without a professional examining the wiring at the panel but, you may be able to tell if there are cables exposed either between the open floor joists, in the basement, up in the attic, or at the service panel. If the wiring is aluminum and was
manufactured before May 1977, the outer covering of the cable will be marked, at least every 12
inches, with the word ALUMINUM, or an abbreviation, ALUM, or AL. If the cable was
manufactured after May 1977, the marking may be either ALUMINUM ACM, ALUM ACM, or ALACM.

Other indicators of a potential problem might include:

• unusually warm or warped outlets and switch cover plates
• smoke or sparks coming from receptacles and switches
• strange odors in the area of receptacles and switches
• untraceable problems with plug-in lights and appliances
• periodic flickering of lights
• discolouring of the wall receptacle
• arcing or sparking

If aluminum wiring is present, the good news is that it does not need to be torn out or replaced as solutions are available at a reasonable cost.  Have a qualified electrician with experience in this area go through the house to determine the best remedies.  The City of Halifax has one of the better websites I’ve read explaining the issue and solutions.  We have certainly seen a number of houses in South Georgian Bay that have aluminum wiring and there are even whole neighbourhoods where the houses were originally built with it.  Yet another good reason all home buyers should have a home inspection!

When it’s time to buy or sell real estate in the Collingwood, Blue Mountain or Georgian Triangle area, contact Marg, an experienced and competent Broker who’s ready whenever you are!


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About Marg

is an award-winning real estate Broker who has successfully been helping people move since 1989. When it’s time for a move in or out of a bigger, smaller, better, more expensive, less expensive, newer, older, house, condo, farm, investment property, vacant lot or business, talk to Marg.

This entry was posted by Marg on Friday, December 12th, 2008 at 3:33 pm and is filed under Buying Real Estate, Home Maintenance, New Homes/Construction, Renovating, Selling Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great information Marg. I was aware of the aluminum wire issue with older construction but didn’t know exactly why it was a problem.
    Very informative!

  2. […] Buying a House with Aluminum Wiring – Collingwood-Blue Mountain Real Estate Blog  […]

  3. Thanks, Marg for this aluminium wiring refresher. Hope things are well with you and best wishes for the holidays! Hilary

  4. David says:

    Wiring made of aluminum heats and cools causing it to expand and contract which in turn can cause connections to come loose. A live wire dangling in a wall is not a good idea!

    All wire connections made inside a wall or anywhere else must be made inside a metal box, which itself must be earth grounded. Loose wires will eventually hit he side of the box and short out the breaker/fuse if not previously discovered when the device will not operate.

    Except for noticeable catastrophic damage to the structure, a live wire dangling in a wall is unlikely.

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