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Aluminum Wiring vs Insurance…is there a battle?

It is estimated that there are over 450,000 homes in Canada that are wired entirely with aluminum wiring.  Studies confirm that these homes are 55 times more likely to have a fire hazard condition present than homes wired with copper.

Most of these homes were built in the 1960’s to late 1970’s.  Problems began to surface where aluminum was used in branch circuit wiring.  These are the smaller wires that bring electricity from the electrical panel to the plugs, switches and lighting fixtures.  Testing revealed that aluminum wiring has some problematic characteristic that are not found with copper.  Aluminum tend to oxidize when exposed to air, so overheating, and eventually failure at the terminations points.  Aluminium is not as resilient as copper and also has a higher rate of expansion, which can cause loose terminations and connections resulting in possible arcing, melting and even fire. Breakage due to improper stripping of the wires or over-tightening of the splices during the installation stage, has created further problems.

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Insurance companies are wary of homes with aluminum wiring and most companies requires a complete electrical safety inspection by a trained and certified electrical contractor before policies are sold or renewed.

How do you know if your home has aluminum wiring?

If you were not informed of the presence of aluminum wiring when you purchased your home, you may be able to check the wire yourself.  Check to see if any of the electrical wiring visible in the attic, basement, crawl space or at the service panel without removing the cover is marked with the word “ALUMINUM” or any of its abbreviations: ALUM, AL, ALUM ACM, AL ACM.  An electrical safety inspection would also confirm the presence of aluminum wiring along with other possible safety concerns.

Some symptoms that may indicate aluminum wiring problems are:

  • Flickering lights that cannot be traced to a failing bulb or other external cause
  • Plugs that do not work even with the circuit energized
  • Unusual static on the radio, TV or computer
  • Switch plates and receptacles covers that are warped, discolored or warm to the touch
  • Circuit breakers or fuses that trip for no apparent reason
  • Strange odors similar to that of burning plastic around switches and receptacles
  • Smoke or sparking around electrical devices.

If you notice any of these problems, it is important to have a certified electrical contractor check the electrical system as soon as possible.  Each home is wired differently and must be assessed on an individual basis to determine the best and safest solution to this safety concern.

Remember, it is your responsibility to inform your insurance representative of the type of wiring your home has.  Failing that, you may be denied a claim settlement for failing to disclose this vital information, and no one wants that.

Call our office today and less us help you find the right insurance company to protect your home. 905-822-9660 or email: info@jwdavis.ca