My Home Inspector Said Aluminum Wiring Will Catch My House On Fire!

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Home Inspector with Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula

My Home Inspector Said Aluminum Wiring Will Catch My House On Fire!


Single-strand aluminum wiring was installed in many homes built in the mid 1960's to early 1970's. After a decade of use, inherent weaknesses were discovered with the wiring. Neglected aluminum wiring connections become increasingly dangerous over time and may overheat and create a fire hazard. A good home inspector will always recommend that single-strand aluminum wiring be evaluated by a qualified electrician who is experienced with aluminum wiring problems.

 

 

Aluminum has certain qualities that make it an undesirable material as an electrical conductor. These qualities all lead to loose connections which creates a fire hazard. Here are a few of them:

 

1. Aluminum becomes brittle with age and will fatigue and break down when subjected to bending. Fatigue will cause the wire to break down internally and will increasingly resist electrical current, leading to a buildup of excessive heat.

 

2. Exposure to the air causes oxidation at the surface of the wire which makes it less conductive. As time passes, oxidation can deteriorate connections and present a fire hazard.  

 

3. Aluminum is a soft metal and highly sensitive to compression. After a screw has been over-tightened on aluminum wiring, the wire will continue to deform or “flow”. This deformation will create a loose connection and increase electrical resistance in that location.

4. Aluminum expands and contracts with changes in temperature. Over time, this process will cause connections between the wire and the device to degrade creating a fire hazard.

 

 

Here are some repair options if your home contains aluminum wiring: 

 

A. Rewire the home with copper wire: While this is the most effective method, rewiring is expensive and impractical, in most cases.

B. Replace receptacles and switches with CO/ALR devices which are compatible with aluminum conductors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C. Install pigtails using a copalum connector: Copper pigtails are attached to the ends of the aluminum wiring circuits with a specially designed metal sleeve and crimping tool.  The copper wire is then connected to the receptacle or circuit breaker. Note: These wires should never be connected by simply using a wire nut!

 

 

 

It should be noted that multi-strand aluminum wiring is commonly used in modern construction. This wiring has proven to be safe as long as anti-oxidant paste is applied at the connections which prevents dangerous oxidation from occurring.

 

 

 

 

 

My Home Inspector Said Aluminum Wiring Will Catch My House On Fire!  Steve Stenros is the owner of First Choice Inspections. He is a CREIA home inspector with the MCI designation. Clients receive a FREE lifetime appliance RecallChek with every standard home inspection. Appointments can be obtained by calling 888-335-3040.

Originally posted at First Choice Inspections.


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Re-Blogged 6 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Toni Weidman 06/12/2011 09:28 AM
  2. Jeanne & Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Brokers 06/12/2011 10:39 AM
  3. Dan Edward Phillips 06/13/2011 08:53 AM
  4. Gene Riemenschneider 06/16/2011 07:25 PM
  5. Pacita Dimacali 06/17/2011 03:02 AM
  6. Dan Edward Phillips 09/05/2011 11:27 AM
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Rainmaker
1,286,050
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

A great post on a topic that I am sure home buyers will be interested in. 

Jun 16, 2011 07:22 PM #21
Rainer
405,935
Randy Ostrander
Lake and Lodge Realty LLC - Big Rapids, MI
Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI

Good evening Steve. Nice post covering use of aluminun wiring. I usually leave that stuff to the inspector but now I know I will share.

Jun 16, 2011 08:00 PM #22
Rainmaker
136,208
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, Home Inspector,San Diego

The home I just inspected yesterday was full of aluminum wiring. No need to fear. The buyers just need a qualified electrician to evaluate and make the appropriate upgrades.

Jun 16, 2011 11:07 PM #23
Ambassador
916,597
Fred Griffin
Get There Social Media, LLC - Tallahassee, FL
Real Estate Technology

Steve, what a great Blog.  Very informative; excellent use of photos and drawings.

   When I was in the U.S. Air Force in the 1970's, I was a power lineman.  We maintained the airfield lighting, plus the substations and power lines on the base. 

    The "old guys" at the time warned me about aluminum wiring - said it was a mistake done to save money.  They were right!

   
Jun 17, 2011 12:03 AM #24
Rainmaker
136,208
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, Home Inspector,San Diego

Well, Fred, if you're an Air Force guy, you can't be half bad! I served 10 years in the USAF starting in '82. Thanks for your comment!

Jun 17, 2011 12:17 AM #25
Rainmaker
336,974
Jon Quist
LONG REALTY - Tucson, AZ
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

Great info for sharing, and a timely reminder about aluminum wiring hazards. Another item used to save money. False economy!

Jun 17, 2011 03:05 AM #26
Rainmaker
136,208
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, Home Inspector,San Diego

Jon: Isn't that the truth!

Jun 17, 2011 09:22 AM #27
Rainmaker
728,300
Lanre-"THE REAL ESTATE FARMER" Folayan
Keller Williams Capital Properties-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC - Washington, DC
How much is my Washington DC House Worth?

Good morning Steve. Enjoyed the Inspection minute video. This is something I can share with my clients. Brilliant idea by the way to record your home inspection. Have a great weekend. Great post.

Jun 17, 2011 10:51 AM #28
Rainmaker
136,208
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, Home Inspector,San Diego

Lanre: I'm glad it is useful for you! Thanks for the comment.

Jun 18, 2011 04:00 AM #29
Rainer
72,786
David Companik
Keller Williams Realty - The Woodlands - The Woodlands, TX
Realtor ▪ The WoodlandsTX ▪ davidcompanik.com

Fascinating post. I learned more about aluminum wiring in this one blog than in all the time I've spent in real estate! I had an older home listed for sale, and after a home inspection was performed and aluminum wiring was discovered, a replacement of the main service panel was required. I now better understand the risks associated with that form of wiring!

Jun 28, 2011 12:16 PM #30
Rainmaker
136,208
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, Home Inspector,San Diego

Thanks, David. Panel replacement is fine, but what was done with the aluminum wiring circuits? Were they evaluated or upgraded with copper pigtails?

Jun 28, 2011 01:23 PM #31
Rainer
72,786
David Companik
Keller Williams Realty - The Woodlands - The Woodlands, TX
Realtor ▪ The WoodlandsTX ▪ davidcompanik.com

Actually, looking back on that transaction in more detail, it seems the service panel had several defects that needed to be corrected (thus the replacement), and the aluminum wiring was located in a workshop in the back yard. I'm not sure how it was all addressed by the electrician.

Jun 28, 2011 06:52 PM #32
Rainmaker
129,780
Steve Hall
RE/MAX United - San Marcos, CA
Make the Call to Hankins and Hall

Steve - Aluminum wiring was called out on a property that I sold a few years back and before my clients could rewire the house, it DID almost burn down.  The house is all rewired now!!

Jul 06, 2011 06:09 PM #33
Rainmaker
136,208
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, Home Inspector,San Diego

Steve: I'll bet it is!!

Jul 06, 2011 08:51 PM #34
Rainmaker
654,349
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

Definitely going to bookmark this one.  I thought that whole thing about pigtailing was an urban myth, good to see there IS a right way to do it.

Aug 18, 2011 11:31 AM #35
Rainmaker
136,208
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, Home Inspector,San Diego

You bet there is, Joetta! An electrician should check the condition of the aluminum wiring first. Thanks for your comment!

Aug 18, 2011 11:41 AM #36
Rainmaker
565,928
Kathy Sheehan
Movement Mortgage 770-634-4021 - Atlanta, GA
Branch Manager

All the more reason for a buyer to have a home inspected by a qualified inspector.  

Sep 05, 2011 11:53 AM #37
Rainmaker
136,208
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, Home Inspector,San Diego

Absolutely, Kathy! All home inspections are not the same. When purchasing a home inspection, you are buying the Inspector's experience and knowledge.

Sep 05, 2011 12:54 PM #38
Rainmaker
434,417
Pete X with X Group Real Estate Advocates, Huntington Beach, CA 714.459.2017 OCLister.com
Investments to Luxury - Huntington Beach, CA
Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide

Steve,

Great post. Lots of spam here, I'll help clean it up.

Nov 19, 2012 08:35 PM #40
Rainmaker
136,208
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, Home Inspector,San Diego

Thanks Pete. Is there an easy way to delete a few dozen spams with the click of a button?

Nov 19, 2012 09:37 PM #41
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Rainmaker
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Steve Stenros

CREIA MCI, ICC, Home Inspector,San Diego
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