Aluminum Wiring / Additional Outlets

Old 06-30-04, 11:56 AM
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Aluminum Wiring / Additional Outlets

I recently bought a new house, and as a final thought, the previous owner mentioned "Oh yeah, you might want to know this hose has aluminum wiring."
What does that mean to me?
Another issue. This house also has only one outlet in the entire garage on the back wall. I was planning to connect to that outlet, and run external housing (it's drywalled) and run around both sides of the garage, and install a couple of outlets on each of the other walls.
What do I need to watch out for?
Old 06-30-04, 12:04 PM
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Aluminum wiring is safe as long as all connectors and devices connected to it are rated for aluminum. The problems begin when connections heat and cool. The aluminum wiring expands and contracts at a different rate than the copper used by most devices and connectors. The repeated expansion and contraction due to electrical loading (heating) causes connections to loosen. Also, aluminum wiring will oxidize over time requiring the use of no-alox or similar compound to prevent this (also causes poor connections and heating). As far as any potential problems with AL wiring, I will defer to the electricians who have to deal with it more than I. When adding on, be sure that the receptacle and/or connectors used are CU/AL rated to prevent further problems.
Old 06-30-04, 02:01 PM
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Aluminum wiring usually makes a house harder to sell. All home inspectors will point this out on the inspection report. I hope you not only got such a report but read it carefully. This often causes the buyer to demand a significant price concession. It also usually prompts a closer electrical inspection prior to closing to make sure that the aluminum wiring is installed correctly. Unless all the terminations and devices have been replaced since their original installation, it is probably not safe.

If you have not yet closed, use the standard real-estate contract inspection clause to address the issue prior to closing. If you have closed, and the home inspector did not identify the aluminum wiring on the report, you likely have recourse against the home inspector. Most home inspectors carry insurance to cover such errors and omissions.

Even if the wiring is safe, it will scare some buyers away when it comes time for you to sell.

One outlet in the garage is pretty standard. Depending on when the house was constructed, it is likely that it is on the same circuit as all the bathrooms. It may not be practical to add more to this circuit. If the panel is in the garage, it should be a simple matter to add a new circuit for your other needs.

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