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Old 09-25-2012, 08:16 PM   #1
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unsafe wiring ?


I don't pretend to know much about wiring, but I'm frustrated with another real estate deal gone south because of aluminium wiring.

The jury seems to be out on its safety. Some people say as long as its piggy backed to copper safely its fine, others say its not just the outlets, but any bend behind the walls could be unsafe. I know a master electrican who says his kids would not be sleeping in a house with that wiring.

If its unsafe how come the Ontario Electrical Safety Authority will pass it on inspections?

On the other hand, if it is safe, then why is it no longer used in new residential builds. Commerical only.

I can't even begin to try and convince a Buyer that it isn't an issue. Then I face the opposite problem when I represent a Seller.

I wonder why there is such a split opinion on the subject and I'm confused as to which way to lean

Thanks

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Old 09-25-2012, 08:42 PM   #2
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unsafe wiring ?


I am not an electrician but when I researched this topic while planning out my subpanel, I was told AL wiring was more susceptible to heat expansion, which would ultimately effect wiring connections.

Apparently, copper does not have such problems to the same degree.

I did end up using an AL SER cable from my main to sub, however and I check and tighten the connections (along with applying Ideal Noalox).

I am sure pros can answer better.

Good luck

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Old 09-25-2012, 08:50 PM   #3
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unsafe wiring ?


I ave heard that aluminum wiring has been installed in fixtures, outlets ect., that are designed and built for copper wiring and that is the problem. because the aluminum wire does NOT fit properly/loosens creating arcing and burning of the fixtures etc.,....NOT SAFE!...apparently domestic outlets etc. for house wiring not easy to find so the standard units for copper were being used....Not Safe!
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:00 PM   #4
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unsafe wiring ?


Aluminum wire used for the service tightened under lugs is safe. The problem was with single strand wiring used in branch circuits. It expands and contracts more with heating and cooling than other components. If you tighten it under a screw, like on a switch or receptacle, it wants to grow when hot, but the screw won't let it. Picture putting a balloon in a mailbox and adding air. It goes the only way it can. So when the wire cools again there can be a little space between it and the screw leading to a little electric arc across that space. This tiny lightning causes a LOT of heat which can melt things and start a fire. There are devices and connector rated for aluminum, so it can be used safely, but one uninformed person can change one device and you've got a fire hazard. As a professional, if I were buying a house with aluminum wiring, I'd make sure my purchase price was low enough so I could afford to rewire. Just my 2cents.
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:20 PM   #5
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unsafe wiring ?


Even with a certified electrical inspection, which I assume would include examining each and every outlet, some people ,including this particular Buyer, are adamant that it is still not acceptable.

I think rewiring an entire house would mean a lot of damage to walls. A situation he would still find unnacceptable

Thanks for helping me to try and understand this. I`m sure I will have this problem again
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:29 PM   #6
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unsafe wiring ?


I am not sure if the copper price is still crazy high but it wouldn't hut to get some quotes, especially if the seller wants to move out.
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:33 PM   #7
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unsafe wiring ?


[quote=Odd_Guy;1017357 As a professional, if I were buying a house with aluminum wiring, I'd make sure my purchase price was low enough so I could afford to rewire. Just my 2cents.[/quote]

Its a Seller`s Market here, so there is no way the owner will take a hit on the price.

I feel lke a bit of a hypocrit when I represent a Seller with AL
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:39 PM   #8
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unsafe wiring ?


My wife watches those home shows (house hunters or something like that) and some of those houses that I consider to be row house go for crazy amount of money, even after factoring in the USD-CAD exchange rate.

I wonder why Canadians are all into buying properties but Americans are into renting?
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:42 PM   #9
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unsafe wiring ?


Properly installed and maintained aluminum wiring is not a hazard.

All else equal copper is better because it has fewer corrosion problems, doesnt have the expansion/contraction problems, is a better conductor and is less brittle

all else is not equal of course.

around here aluminum is still used almost exclusively for service entrances and transmission lines but not for new installations of branch circuit wiring. people arent ripping apart houses just beause its aluminum.
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:49 PM   #10
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unsafe wiring ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by allthumbsdiy View Post
My wife watches those home shows (house hunters or something like that) and some of those houses that I consider to be row house go for crazy amount of money, even after factoring in the USD-CAD exchange rate.

I wonder why Canadians are all into buying properties but Americans are into renting?
Its almost always better to buy a property rather than rent. Why build someone else`s equity. Coupled with the increase in property value its a sound investment.
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:50 PM   #11
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unsafe wiring ?


AL wiring is susceptible to a few things. It oxidises easily, which causes high resistance. It also suffers from cold flow, which also causes high resistance (Molecular flow away from a point of pressure)

The REAL reason that it's seen as a bad thing in homes (especially older homes) is simply because it was never installed correctly, and with devices that were most likely never rated for AL wire.
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:55 PM   #12
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unsafe wiring ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Protocol. View Post
AL wiring is susceptible to a few things. It oxidises easily, which causes high resistance. It also suffers from cold flow, which also causes high resistance (Molecular flow away from a point of pressure)

The REAL reason that it's seen as a bad thing in homes (especially older homes) is simply because it was never installed correctly, and with devices that were most likely never rated for AL wire.
Do you think that if each and every outlet were inspected for proper pig tailing (correct terminology) that would make it safe, or can there be other problems besides the connections
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Old 09-26-2012, 01:11 AM   #13
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unsafe wiring ?


I think you are missing the point. The inspection might make it more safe than an un-inspected house w/aluminum wire, but is that safe enough in the buyers eye. That will depend on the individual.

With a hard core Aluminum wire hater, you are going to have to be selling at a price where he is willing to purchase. Unless you are already priced low, you and your seller are going to have to negotiate with him. So, either be willing to negotiate, or tell him it is non-negotiable and let him walk. It's either negotiate or no sale. You will never convince him otherwise.

You can toss the idea of the every connection inspection on the table and judge the reaction. But, I think you would be better off putting that money towards whatever credit the buyer may be asking for. If he is hardcore, why spend money inspecting something he will tear out.
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Old 09-26-2012, 01:45 AM   #14
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unsafe wiring ?


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Originally Posted by creeper View Post
Do you think that if each and every outlet were inspected for proper pig tailing (correct terminology) that would make it safe, or can there be other problems besides the connections
Certainly. Imagine a guy staples all of those wires onto the studs. Each staple will put pressure on that point. Cold flow occurs and the point is now a "hot spot". impossible to say if it would ever cause problems or not. All really depends on loads and how bad it is. Imagine it being something like stepping on a garden hose.

I'm also not aware of any way to accurately test for it. I'm not a pro sparky though so I don't know for sure.
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Old 09-26-2012, 06:03 AM   #15
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unsafe wiring ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Oso954 View Post
I think you are missing the point. The inspection might make it more safe than an un-inspected house w/aluminum wire, but is that safe enough in the buyers eye. That will depend on the individual.

With a hard core Aluminum wire hater, you are going to have to be selling at a price where he is willing to purchase. Unless you are already priced low, you and your seller are going to have to negotiate with him. So, either be willing to negotiate, or tell him it is non-negotiable and let him walk. It's either negotiate or no sale. You will never convince him otherwise.

You can toss the idea of the every connection inspection on the table and judge the reaction. But, I think you would be better off putting that money towards whatever credit the buyer may be asking for. If he is hardcore, why spend money inspecting something he will tear out.
Thank-you for your time to respond to this.

In this situation, Im am representing the Buyer. I will not try to convince him of anything. If he is not happy then that is my concern and we will move on together to the next home. I'm not about to irritate him with pressure

On the other hand, Just this past June, I was representing a different client ...a Seller whose home also had AL. My loyalties had to be with the Seller. As it turns out the question of AL never even came up. I had all documentation on the table during showings, so everybody knew it was there before they proceeded with an Offer.

I'm just trying to form an hypothesis on its safety.

At this point I'm just going to have to remain neutral

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