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  • Feb 22nd, 2009 3:25 pm
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Sr. Member
Nov 24, 2002
890 posts
66 upvotes
Toronto
When I purchased my house (build in 1918) it has some knob & tube, 60 amp service, and the finished basement was all aluminum. I figured, since I was paying to get 100amp service, and rewire 1st and 2nd floor.. might as well spend the extra 1000$ to get rid of it in the basement..

and boy.. was I ever glad!

Al wiring is safe.. as long as you use only Al rated outlets/switches (which are a lot more expensive than Cu only rated ones). Also, you need to use special connectors if you ever want to add more wire in the future (since new wire is Cu and you can't mix Cu with Al). [careful. Al wire is also very brittle. Snaps very easily]

In fact, in one outlet in our basement, Cu and Al was connected together without the use of the special connector.. and as a result, the Al wire was oxidized and signs of electrical fires were found.
Deal Addict
Jan 4, 2007
1339 posts
12 upvotes
leonk wrote:
Feb 20th, 2009 8:10 pm
When I purchased my house (build in 1918) it has some knob & tube, 60 amp service, and the finished basement was all aluminum. I figured, since I was paying to get 100amp service, and rewire 1st and 2nd floor.. might as well spend the extra 1000$ to get rid of it in the basement..

and boy.. was I ever glad!

Al wiring is safe.. as long as you use only Al rated outlets/switches (which are a lot more expensive than Cu only rated ones). Also, you need to use special connectors if you ever want to add more wire in the future (since new wire is Cu and you can't mix Cu with Al). [careful. Al wire is also very brittle. Snaps very easily]

In fact, in one outlet in our basement, Cu and Al was connected together without the use of the special connector.. and as a result, the Al wire was oxidized and signs of electrical fires were found.
Could you tell me if they replaced the wiring from the inside of the house or ran conduit outside to the second floor? Approx what was the cost? Thanks
Deal Addict
User avatar
Oct 12, 2007
3004 posts
142 upvotes
Ottawa
I thought another consideration with AL wiring was that, being softer than CU, it could get nicked more easily during installation or subsequent wiring alterations and those nicks would create hotspots or arcing. Anyway, if I had it in my house, I'd most definitely pull it out if I was about to do a renovation. Piece of mind and all that - plus future flexibility for wiring changes, resale, etc.
biz999 wrote:
Feb 20th, 2009 5:34 pm
I can recomend an awesome electrician in Ottawa.
Please share - always looking for recommendations for plumbers and electricians!!!
Deal Addict
Nov 12, 2006
1111 posts
252 upvotes
London
The only real problem with aluminum is perception.

The electrical issues can be addressed.
We now know how to handle aluminum wiring properly.

What happens is people run scared.
Can it affect your resale value?
It could. People hear aluminum and get paranoid.
If that scares away buyers, it's a negative, whether there is any real hazard or not.
Just look at this thread to see the effect.

It can be perfectly safe.
Make sure all connections are properly terminated.
This isn't difficult and a competent DIYer can take a weekend to do it and it won't cost much.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Nov 19, 2002
11911 posts
210 upvotes
We have aluminum in our place as well, and hod no problems insuring it. I`m not sure why people are saying that many or most insurance companies have a problem with it.

Aluminum, handled properly, is safe. Copper, handled improperly, is not.

That being said, every job I`m doing here that involves opening or removing walls also involves switching out all of the aluminum with copper...it`s that perception thing for the next person who wants the house.
Deal Expert
User avatar
May 10, 2005
24879 posts
2462 upvotes
Ottawa
CSK'sMom wrote:
Feb 20th, 2009 4:55 pm
I think you're missing the big issue here.... Will your (or any insurance company even insure the house with aluminum wiring? Many won't, certificate or not. They will require that in order to get insurance it must all be ripped out and replaced within 30/60 or 90 days of taking possession...
As for resale, sure it can be an issue. A rewired older home will generally be worth more than one that needs to be rewired KWIM?
cabbageroll wrote:
Feb 20th, 2009 6:29 pm
Most insurance companies will not insure the property if you tell them the house has aluminum wiring. But they usually only ask when it was upgraded and if its 100 amp or 220, not if its copper or alum.
Problems with aluminum wiring
Reported problems with aluminum wiring have been related to the overheating and failure of aluminum wiring terminations. This is due to the tendency of aluminum wiring to oxidize, and aluminum’s incompatibility with devices designed for use with copper wiring only. Aluminum has a higher rate of expansion than copper wiring, which can lead to loose connections, arcing and melting, eventually fire. Warm cover plates or discolouration of switches or receptacles, flickering lights or the smell of hot plastic insulation may be evidence of poor or improperly made connections.
This is not true. I have aluminum wire as well and I have had two brokers dealing with about 20 companies total. None refused to insure and they were all fairly close in premium costs.
The hazards of aluminum wire was most often in the installation. When this is checked and fixed (if needed) it is as good as copper. As a matter of fact, many (if not most) commercial buildings are wired with aluminum even today. There is no ban on the use of aluminum wire at all. You can use it in housing as well.
arisk wrote:
Feb 21st, 2009 9:24 am
The only real problem with aluminum is perception.
The electrical issues can be addressed.
We now know how to handle aluminum wiring properly.
What happens is people run scared.
Can it affect your resale value?
It could. People hear aluminum and get paranoid.
If that scares away buyers, it's a negative, whether there is any real hazard or not.
Just look at this thread to see the effect.
It can be perfectly safe.
Make sure all connections are properly terminated.
This isn't difficult and a competent DIYer can take a weekend to do it and it won't cost much.
Very correct. There is a fear out there that is unfounded and, if properly researched, one will find that it is as good and as safe as any other wiring.
Deal Addict
Sep 11, 2006
1918 posts
10 upvotes
KELOWNA
Insurance companies are really fickle. The first house I had had knob & tube, 60 Amp panel, no problem. 4.5 years ago I bought a different house with aluminum wiring, 60 Amp panel, no question, no problem. Two years later with this house knob & tube iffy but no problem as long as most of it was replaced or I put in things like GFSI (or whatever they are called) outlets ,60 Amp a big problem and had to be replaced instantly, and had their been aluminum, no insurance until it was replaced. Go figure. Same company, never had a claim and very different stories all within 5 years.
Moderator
User avatar
Aug 22, 2003
15532 posts
957 upvotes
Niagara Falls
Pete, read the OP's own reply in this thread. His insurance company will only cover him with an ESA certificate and because he's an existing customer. He's been told that if he was a new customer they would not insure him, certificate or not. Home insurance is not regulated, in the sense that they have to provide coverage to everyone. Because of that they can get away with pretty much anything that they want. Have the wrong breed of dog and try to get coverage at any price. ;) Aluminum wiring is another of those things that many companies don't want to assume the risk of. They have their targeted property demographics that they are willing to assume risk on and if you don't fall into that demographic you are either SOL or the premiums are atrocious...
Thinking seriously about the 4 S's...Sun, Sand, Surf and ... Booked for Sept in Mexico and booked Samana DR for Jan!
Deal Addict
Dec 1, 2003
1268 posts
7 upvotes
My father is an insurance agent and has never ran into an issue where they woulnd't cover someone with aluminum wiring, so this is news to me.

My gf's brother also bought a house with aluminum and had no issues getting insurance for it. He didn't even need an ESA cert.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Nov 19, 2002
11911 posts
210 upvotes
I have 2 insurance companies for clients, and neither one was concerned about the aluminum wiring in my new home. Dominion of Canada required an ESA cert number (didn`t require a new report, they were happy with the cert from 4 years ago on the home) and a couple of other companies didn`t require the cert at all.
Deal Addict
Nov 26, 2001
1049 posts
As I mentioned, pig tail copper to the alum. wire to cover the OP's safety concerns, and also look to another insurance company, as many are saying and my self included, this EAS cert. is uncommon.
Sr. Member
Feb 23, 2008
646 posts
26 upvotes
Personally I would pass on the aluminum wiring or budget it into the price of the house and ask for discounts on the offer based on what the inspector said. For piece of mind and re-saleability I would upgrade to copper.

Someone has to do it as some point. The house isn't going anywhere (unless it burns down) so someone is going to have to tackle the wiring at some point. You have to ask yourself if you are going to be the one to do it? I know insurance companies are more concerned about knob and tube wiring and there are electricians that just do this pretty much daily.

If you like the area you might have to bite the bullet and budget this into renovation budget or be prepared to walk away. The houses in the area are just going to walk away and new houses with upgrades come in and replace them.

Its not that aluminum is bad as people have said but the perception that if it isn't copper. It has the perception of causing more house fires just like knob and tube because it is a softer metal and easier to damage in a renovation, etc

I know in my case when I bought my 30's house it was renovated by the contractor that bought it before me and upgraded to new copper (along with new plumbing pipes, finishes, etc). I couldn't have afforded to buy one of these nice older homes and do this myself based on my current financial obligations (mortgage, car, insurance, food, etc) due to cash flow, etc. It was either buy an older home that someone has renovated near a subway/go train line or have to buy an older home somewhere in the burbs.


Solutions Electrical was used by Mike Holmes and I'm not sure if he has expanded into Ottawa area but used extensively in GTA. Does say up to Belleville on their website so perhaps Ottawa area
Sr. Member
Nov 24, 2002
890 posts
66 upvotes
Toronto
nornet wrote:
Feb 21st, 2009 7:00 am
Could you tell me if they replaced the wiring from the inside of the house or ran conduit outside to the second floor? Approx what was the cost? Thanks
By code, they're allowed to run a conduit on the outside of the house into the attic. This way they can fish the lines down from the attic into all rooms on the 2nd floor, and use the basement to come up to all rooms on the first.

In my case, I got lucky. There's a conduit (hollow space in the wall) that runs from the basement right up into the attic. It's where the HVAC runs through to some of the bedrooms. So my electrician ran all the wires there w/o showing anything on the outside.

On the outside he did install a new mast and wires, new box for the outside meter, etc.

Basically, every wire in my house, and even the one to the end of my driveway was replaced.
Sr. Member
Nov 24, 2002
890 posts
66 upvotes
Toronto
bolmsted wrote:
Feb 21st, 2009 12:04 pm
Solutions Electrical was used by Mike Holmes and I'm not sure if he has expanded into Ottawa area but used extensively in GTA. Does say up to Belleville on their website so perhaps Ottawa area
Solutions electrical is VERY expensive. But they do the best job money can buy. You should be able to find a good company to do the job at a fraction of the cost.

A typical 2 story house, rewired from knob & tub + new 100 amp service (including panel) should run about 10,000$ and done in less than a week when multiple guys work on the house.

I got all this done for only 5000$ by a master electrician working out of his van for (25+ years of experience). Took three times as long since it was just him, but he had all the permits, and the city inspector came out and passed his work and did the final tie in + new meter.

So look around ..
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jul 26, 2004
3356 posts
59 upvotes
Ontario
CSK'sMom wrote:
Feb 20th, 2009 4:55 pm
I think you're missing the big issue here.... Will your (or any insurance company even insure the house with aluminum wiring? Many won't, certificate or not. They will require that in order to get insurance it must all be ripped out and replaced within 30/60 or 90 days of taking possession...
No insurance company I've received quotes from has had any issue or asked for further inspections for my current house. All they asked was if it had aluminum yes or no. I'm also with one of them now.That was when I took possession. They didn't require anything to be done, but I went and replaced everything anyway when I found charred wires. I think the whole issue of being unable to get insurance is blown way out of proportion. I have seen houses change hands here a few times and I know for a fact that they are original; I've never heard of issues with insurance companies refusing coverage except from electricians...and now here.

As long as the connections are done properly there should be no issue. AL wiring is uprated gauge anyway.
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