The Danger of Aluminum Wiring

Jared: There are pockets of houses in several local neighborhoods with fairly new construction that contain aluminum wiring; many insurance companies will not approve a homeowner’s policy coverage if your house has aluminum wiring.

Rob: Exactly. Installing aluminum wiring was legal from the mid-60’s to around the mid-70’s. Laboratory testing was performed to pass the wire for use, but the tests were skewed and unrealistic compared to actual conditions. After it passed, aluminum wiring was used to wire up entire houses. This is called “branch circuit wiring,” which includes all of the wiring in the house; the bedroom, kitchen, dining room, living room, receptacles, lights, everything. Well, about 10 years after the introduction of aluminum wiring houses began burning down due to major electrical issues. Discovering that the cause of these fires was the aluminum wiring, they realized that it should never have been passed for use in homes.

If you have a home with aluminum wiring there is constant risk of an electrical house fire. As Jared mentioned before, insurance companies are aware of this danger and will either not provide you any coverage or charge you double the normal premium. With that said, there are two main options for you to choose from to make your home safer if it currently has aluminum wiring.

First, you can re-wire your whole house which is often a difficult and time consuming process – not to mention the cost. It usually costs thousands of dollars and includes the demolition and repair of drywall to gain access.

However, there is a more economical solution available that can make your home just as safe. “Pigtailing” is a term used to describe using six inch sections of copper wire and connecting them to the existing aluminum wiring at the receptacles, light fixtures and other problem spots. We do this by using a special AlumiConn connectors that are UL (Underwriters Laboratories) approved and most often replacing the old receptacles and switches that the aluminum wiring has been in contact with. This is a safe, code approved way to handle aluminum wiring in your home without the cost of re-wiring your entire home.

It’s important to check with your insurance company before choosing which route to take. Many insurance companies are fine with pigtailing to solve the problems aluminum wiring can cause, but others will require you to have your house completely rewired in order to qualify for coverage or get a deduction from your insurance premium; we do both methods. Either way, after we finish the work, we prepare a certified letter for you to show your insurance company verifying that everything is safe and up to code. The money you’ll save on the difference in premium cost will quickly recoup the small cost you spend on the pigtailing process.

Jared: If you want to get a quote on how much it would be to pigtail or re-wire your home you can give Universal Contracting a call at 407-295-7403 to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed electricians.

One of the good things about Universal Contracting is that we have both electrical and interior remodeling repair divisions. So we are able to do any drywall patching involved in the full re-wire option at the same time as the electrical work. We have experienced artists on staff whose specific job it is to patch and match the texture of your existing wall.

Rob: Yes, and like Jared said we can give you quotes for both options. Also, if you’re looking to re-wire a recently purchased older home that you haven’t moved into yet, it’s a lot easier for us to do the work since we’re not having to move furniture and protect floor coverings. Any house can be completely re-wired at any time. It may take more money, more effort, and more time, but it certainly is the best job because then the entire house has copper wiring.

I would never discourage a homeowner from doing a complete re-wire to their home, especially is it’s an older home they have yet to move into, but I like to give them the other option of pigtailing if they don’t have the funds needed for a full re-wire. It’s a safe, cost-effective solution that can help save you money on your homeowners insurance and protect your home and family from the dangerous risks of old aluminum wiring.

Listen Saturday mornings to "In the House with Ken & Jared". Get more Home Tips and show info at the In the House website. For a free estimate on your next Home Improvement Project, visit Universal Roof & Contracting or call now. Orlando: 407-295-7403 Jacksonville: 904-647-3907

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