Home & Garden

House in GTA with aluminium wiring

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 21st, 2020 10:48 am
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 19, 2007
152 posts
5 upvotes

House in GTA with aluminium wiring

I have an opportunity to purchase a 1970's era house in Scarborough (ON) that has aluminium wiring. I have done some research and understand that aluminium wiring carries a slightly higher risk of house fires compared to copper wiring.

Are there any issues with getting house insurance for this house?

Also, is there any urgency to replace this with copper wiring? I am thinking this would be a horrendous cost.

Many thanks for all advice.
42 replies
Deal Expert
User avatar
Feb 8, 2014
24123 posts
9580 upvotes
Socially Distanced
Some insurance companies won't insure, some will want a report of inspection and others couldn't care less.
Replacement can be very pricey if you have to rip everything out (plaster/lath walls are hard core) and on the other hand it might be simple, all depending on the layout of the house wiring and the skills of an electrician who can work without tearing out walls (such people are out there, though may be hard to find).
I would suggest an inspection from a competent electrician even if your insurance doesn't care, and consider replacement, better safe especially if Copper/Aluminium is mixed which it likely will be.
That said Aluminium wiring is not inherently unsafe, but it has to be treated with respect and extra caution because when its mixed it has to be done correctly, non electrician (homeowner/handyman) repairs in the past means greater risk
In fact in Rand McNally they wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Dec 10, 2008
5027 posts
1705 upvotes
You could rewire. The house most likely needs a ton of work to bring it up to code, anyway.
Let's hug it out
Deal Expert
User avatar
Feb 8, 2014
24123 posts
9580 upvotes
Socially Distanced
RCGA wrote: You could rewire. The house most likely needs a ton of work to bring it up to code, anyway.
You only have to bring things up to current code when you renovate. Thats not to say things should not be built to greater standards, but we have no law or requirement to upgrade everything when a new building/electrical/pluming/HVAC code is revised every few years.
In fact in Rand McNally they wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 8, 2002
4232 posts
876 upvotes
Ottawa
Aluminum wiring has two problems, oxidation (which isn't electrically conductive) and ensuring the proper end devices are used (switches, receptacles, wire nuts, etc.) Both can be mitigated. Problems start when rank amateurs add copper wiring to aluminum systems without using the appropriate connectors.

https://www.esasafe.com/assets/files/es ... -02-FL.pdf
Deal Addict
Apr 6, 2008
1807 posts
1164 upvotes
The issue with aluminum can be repaired fairly quickly and easily by having an electrical contractor either replace switches and receptacles (about $5 per piece for the material only), or put copper "tails" on each one. Neither will break the bank or cost you as much as an entire rewire. Not enough to bail out of an otherwise decent house IMO.
Deal Expert
User avatar
May 10, 2005
36265 posts
10486 upvotes
Ottawa
Insurance companies will insure your house if it is inspected and passes. Very often the only problems found are loose connections.
The primary problem with aluminum wiring was improper installation using improper connections/switches/plugs. There used to be specific aluminum or copper connectors/switches and plugs but most are now Cu/Al and can be used on both types of wiring.
Aluminum wiring is not banned.
Deal Fanatic
Jul 4, 2004
7532 posts
783 upvotes
Toronto
RCGA wrote: You could rewire. The house most likely needs a ton of work to bring it up to code, anyway.
......which you are not required to do.
Deal Addict
Nov 12, 2006
2443 posts
1525 upvotes
London
MacGyver wrote: Aluminum wiring has two problems, oxidation (which isn't electrically conductive) and ensuring the proper end devices are used (switches, receptacles, wire nuts, etc.) Both can be mitigated. Problems start when rank amateurs add copper wiring to aluminum systems without using the appropriate connectors.
Unfortunately, there is also another "problem".
The above real problem is easily solved.

Fighting against the imaginary issues is more of a problem, such as insurance company's idiocy, uninformed buyer perception.
The sad fact is all that may impact you more.
Future buyers may just pass.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 8, 2002
4232 posts
876 upvotes
Ottawa
arisk wrote: Future buyers may just pass.
Not likely in a GTA home where bidding wars rule, and demand for real estate is insatiable.

Aluminum wiring is used throughout the distribution system without problems. One on building I worked on, the contractor saved $70K by switching the underground feeders from copper to aluminum, as part of an owner-approved cost saving exercise.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Dec 10, 2008
5027 posts
1705 upvotes
Drew_W wrote: ......which you are not required to do.
Dude, I get that.

Hence the "could" in my sentence.

But spending $700k+ on a house with aluminum wire and then cheaping out on the $15k to re-wiring job (and bring up to current code) is kind of hilarious.
Let's hug it out
Deal Expert
User avatar
May 10, 2005
36265 posts
10486 upvotes
Ottawa
RCGA wrote: Dude, I get that.

Hence the "could" in my sentence.

But spending $700k+ on a house with aluminum wire and then cheaping out on the $15k to re-wiring job (and bring up to current code) is kind of hilarious.
$15K to re-wire an entire house is pretty cheap and, more importantly, aluminum wiring is not against code. Aluminum wiring is not banned and can be used today.
The biggest problem with aluminum wired homes is the misinformation being spread....such as alluding that it is not to code.
Member
May 22, 2003
405 posts
9 upvotes
Milton
Berg Electric (concord, on) converted the wiring from aluminum to copper in my house and did a great job.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Dec 27, 2011
3582 posts
1843 upvotes
Figured I'd post in here instead of starting a new thread. For a small house (1,000 sq ft) built in the 70s with aluminum wiring, how much (approx) would it cost to change to copper?
Deal Expert
User avatar
Feb 8, 2014
24123 posts
9580 upvotes
Socially Distanced
crystallight wrote: Figured I'd post in here instead of starting a new thread. For a small house (1,000 sq ft) built in the 70s with aluminum wiring, how much (approx) would it cost to change to copper?
Depends on the house, single floor drywall and unfinished basement/attic will be a lot cheaper then a plaster walls multi story and finished basement
In fact in Rand McNally they wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 23, 2008
13002 posts
9929 upvotes
Edmonton
crystallight wrote: Figured I'd post in here instead of starting a new thread. For a small house (1,000 sq ft) built in the 70s with aluminum wiring, how much (approx) would it cost to change to copper?
Out of curiousity... Why? It is to code, if it was done properly.

We were quoted $7000 to retire our 1.5 storey ~1500 sq ft house. That didn't include the wall repairs after.

C
Deal Guru
Jan 25, 2007
11479 posts
6660 upvotes
Paris
I owned a house with aluminum wiring. I did have wires break off while switching switches and a junction come loose (that was DIY poorly done) but no real issues.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Oct 26, 2003
36818 posts
4980 upvotes
Winnipeg
if it was me, i would just gut it and redo, but the op might not be able to do it himself
WTB amazon gc @90%
Deal Addict
Jan 5, 2003
4681 posts
4392 upvotes
Toronto
To recap, there's no issues with the cables themselves, just the connections. Heck, many fixtures and switches have aluminum wires to connect to your household copper wires, as they are much more flexible than copper.

If you're thinking of a house that has aluminum wiring, just ask your insurance company if they will insure and if so, if they need anyway (inspection, etc.). If they won't insure, ask around and there are many that do. If they need an electrician's inspection, a electrician can probably give a quick quote over the phone as they probably just check each receptacle, fixture and panel connection. It's a fair amount of checking, but at least walls don't need to be opened up (since there shouldn't be any connections hidden inside walls).

Some realtors and buyers probably think you need to replace all wiring, and thus factor that into their bid, if they bid at all. Nowadays, this would one of the few ways to get a "deal" with Toronto real estate, as a lot of buyers might stay away from houses with issues (asbestos, alum. wiring, oil tanks, odours, etc.) while the smart buyer educates themselves on the real dangers, if any, and the true costs to remedy them.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Dec 27, 2011
3582 posts
1843 upvotes
CNeufeld wrote: Out of curiousity... Why? It is to code, if it was done properly.

We were quoted $7000 to retire our 1.5 storey ~1500 sq ft house. That didn't include the wall repairs after.

C
Actually I thought it may need to be redone for insurance purposes. But it looks like all I would need is an ESA certificate. Not sure what work would need to be done (and the cost) if it doesn't pass though...

Top