Confused weather to buy house w/ aluminum wiring or not

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  #1  
Old 11-12-05, 08:13 PM
julieNokc
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Confused weather to buy house w/ aluminum wiring or not

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I live in Oklahoma City and have put a contract on a house built in 1971. On 11-10-05 my inspection was done. At that time, the inspector came to me and told me the house has aluminum wiring and told me what is was, the possible hazzards and possible remidies. He also stated that the use of aluminum as "illegel". (knowing now it's not). I privetly asked the inspector, "If I were your daughter, would you want her to buy the house"? The inspector very stern and quick said, "No, I would tell her to RUN". He also told me that insurance companies may or may not insure the house. At that time, my Mom call 3 major insurance companies and they all told her that aluminum wiring was not an issue.

The inspector adivsed me to rest on this and call a local Electic company and get advice. After I called several major electrial companies, it seemed to be split. Some also told me to RUN....as others told me it's not a problem and that alot of people over-react to this situation.

I feel I have a clear understanding of the aluminum vs. copper. After researching via the internet....Im still just as confused as to buy the house or not. After reading several comments on this site, I thought I would get some other opinions to further confuse me !

Here's where I stand. I LOVE the house. After talking to the Real Estate broker that I'm using....we came to the conclusion to possibly take this to the Seller and renegotiate the price of the house to compensate either rewiring the entire house (doubt he will do that!) OR, pay to have the retro-fit placed OR some other type of method that would help ensure the safty of the house/wiring.

I even went as far as contacting the local fire department in the area and asked if he knew of any house fires in that area caused by "aluminum wiring". He laughed and asked if I was board!!!!!! Later telling me he never saw a house fire in 22 years CAUSED by aluminum wiring but has heard of the potential. He further said that most of the fires in homes with aluminum wiring were due to "stupid human acts". i.e., overloading outlets.

Any advise on a rewiring vs. maintaing the aluminum wiring with inspections every 2 to 3 years vs. the retro-fit method or any other method would be greatly appreciated.

Having to make this decision on my own, confused and in somewhat of a hurry to make a "go or bust" of the contract......HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks!
julieNokc
 
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  #2  
Old 11-12-05, 08:23 PM
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The house was built in 1971. That was 35 years ago. It has not burned down. There are thousands of other homes that have aluminum wiring and haven't burned down yet.

Of course there are also homes that have burned down. Some of those fires have been traced to aluminum wiring.

If I were you I would look to getting the house rewired. A house built in 1971 could stand to benefit from rewiring anyway. Codes have changed and so have appliances and devices.

My advice is to see what you can negotiate in terms of a lower price to have the house rewired. Maybe something, maybe nothing. It depends on many factors.

I would also get a thorough electrical inspection from a reputable electrician who is familiar with aluminum wiring. The inspection is of course to identify and correct any immediate problems. I would do this inspection before you buy and have the seller correct any problems found.
 
  #3  
Old 11-12-05, 08:27 PM
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I can't give specific advice, as I have no experience with AL wired houses (thankfully, our 1970's house was wired copper). Just some comments I wanted to make if you are considering a potential rewire solution...

If the house is single story, with a crawl space underneath, and an accessable attic above, a rewire could probably be done with minimal damage to walls/ceilings. If it sits on a slab and/or if it is a two story house with drywall/plaster ceilings on the lower floor, the rewire becomes more intrusive/destructive.
 
  #4  
Old 11-12-05, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft
The house was built in 1971. That was 35 years ago. It has not burned down. There are thousands of other homes that have aluminum wiring and haven't burned down yet.

Of course there are also homes that have burned down. Some of those fires have been traced to aluminum wiring.

If I were you I would look to getting the house rewired. A house built in 1971 could stand to benefit from rewiring anyway. Codes have changed and so have appliances and devices.

My advice is to see what you can negotiate in terms of a lower price to have the house rewired. Maybe something, maybe nothing. It depends on many factors.

I would also get a thorough electrical inspection from a reputable electrician who is familiar with aluminum wiring. The inspection is of course to identify and correct any immediate problems. I would do this inspection before you buy and have the seller correct any problems found.
But here is the problem you see. The more that time goes on, the more that the oxidation occurs at the point of the wire wrapped at the outlet terminal screw. I have been a witness to this per my posts on this very subject. It indeed is scary.

Yes, the problem occurs due to overload circuits, like the fireman said. But that's a real dumb way to respond because if a person overloads copper the same way, you don't have near that meltdown effect of the wire insulation or the wire bcoming brittle several inches from the screw, compared to aluminum.

And with aluminum problems it is most likely to occur on high amp draw circuits. BUT, it could happen anywhere for any numbr of reasons.

What if an aluminum wire was nailed into during construction. If it was copper it may harmlesslesly burn through at that point. But with aluminum, the slow melting would occur which increases the risk of fire.

If you buy the house, I would have no less than one smoke alarm in every bedroom plus outside the bedrooms for when you close the bedroom doors..AND have in your mind, rehearsed, every fire scenaio and exit blockage scenario to allow you to break windows with chairs to get out, etc., all worked out and rehearsed in your head.

And that would be after the homeowner allows you to preinspect outlets in especially the kitchen, in advance of your purchase. And be sure to ask them if anyone has ever replaced outlets or if flicking of lights or whatever has happened to tip you off to problems.
 
  #5  
Old 11-15-05, 06:48 PM
noncom
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Originally Posted by Bonehead
I would have no less than one smoke alarm in every bedroom plus outside the bedrooms for when you close the bedroom doors..AND have in your mind, rehearsed, every fire scenaio and exit blockage scenario to allow you to break windows with chairs to get out, etc., all worked out and rehearsed in your head.
That is great advice for everyone, reguardless. I don't have AL wiring, but i still have smoke alarms in every bedroom, on every landing (i live in a split level ...stairs every where) I have found that kids of all ages (from 4-19) do the dumbest things, the smoke alarms are godsends. We have an escape plan and a meeting point. These are little things, but I really got motivated when an entire family died in a fire in their home about 2 miles from here three years ago.

As for the wiring, I would run. Unless you were going to rewire the building. But that is just me. People are lazy and sometimes do the incredibly dangerous things. As I have now opened almost every wall in this house, I can attest to this. I have read that AL wiring when in good shape and treated correctly is fine, I have also read that it is very finnicky and nowhere near as forgiving as CU.
 
  #6  
Old 11-16-05, 02:56 PM
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i had to replace a heating sub panel that fried at the main lugs... alum feed, copper curcuits. i also replaced two receptacles that were warm to the touch. one at home and one at work. both wired copper. it seems either one can go bad but with annual inspection, a little tightening of the connectors you should be ok. also, i now install all devices using dielectric grease . i've been told aluminum expands and conracts more than copper, and also must be a larger size to carry the same load as copper.
 
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