aluminumwireIf you have an older home, one that was built mid-sixties to mid-seventies you might know that a lot of them were built with aluminum wiring. These homes will operate as safely as any other type of wiring if the proper materials have been used and installed to manufacturer’s recommendations along with Electric Safety code of the area where the home is.

The problem however could stand from the insurance underwriter who often insists on having the electrical system inspected by a licensed electrician who has experience in inspection and repairing aluminum wiring. It is inaccurate and even dangerous for anyone to make any representation about the condition of aluminum wiring in a specific property without an on-site inspection by a qualified and experienced electrician. Only direct observations by an expert can assess the condition of the aluminum wiring in the house as this can vary from home to home and even within the same home it can differ from circuit to circuit. It is possible for very unsafe conditions to be present, but not visible, in any house with aluminum. The words “it should be ok” should not be part of anyone’s vocabulary when it comes to aluminum wiring until a hands on observation has been made by an expert in the field.

Bryan Freeman who operates CanInspect HRM Home Inspection Service in Halifax points out that there are many questions to ask such as: “Are the receptacles “push-in” or “screw-terminal” type? If screw-terminal wired, how is the wire placed under the screw? (Does the wire go straight in or is it wrapped around the connector)? Are the screws steel or brass? Are the screws plated with zinc on the neutral side? What kind of splicing connectors exist in the system? If they are twist-on connectors (“wire nuts”), are they the live spring or restrained spring type? Did the installer clean the aluminum wire to remove the oxide before making the connection? Were the spliced wires pre-twisted together? Was a proper corrosion inhibitor used on all connections?”

Only after having the answers to all of these questions (from direct observations), says Freeman, can an evaluation of the relative safety of the wiring system be made.

Again these types of questions cannot be answered by a visual home inspection. Consequently, when a house contains any branch aluminum wire circuits, you are strongly advised to have the electrical system thoroughly inspected by a qualified, licensed electrical contractor familiar with aluminum wiring.

Call Dale Dyer for more information

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