During a prolonged period of high copper prices, home builders turned to aluminum wiring in the 1960s and 70s. For the most part, aluminum serves as a fine material for electrical systems. However, it soon became apparent that aluminum connections corrode over time and loosen — causing sparks and potential house fires. Aluminum wiring problems have destroyed homes and caused fatalities.
Insurance companies naturally want to avoid the elevated risk of aluminum wired homes. If your house or the one you wish to buy has aluminum, contact us at Spyrka Electric so we can discuss your options for upgrading, or retrofitting the wiring for safety and insurability.
Can I Insure a Home with Aluminum Wiring?
You can find an insurance provider who will offer coverage for aluminum wired homes, but you might not like the price. Your options are limited because some providers will decline the policy entirely. Providers who will insure the home will almost definitely charge a higher insurance premium than they would for the same home with copper wiring.
Hazard coverage is the issue. This portion of the policy covers fires, explosions, electrical problems, and other damage. Aluminum wires are more likely to overheat, spark, smoke, and catch fire. The connections also loosen over time due to corrosion, creating gaps for sparks to fly.
Buying a Home with Aluminum Wiring
After discovering that the home you want has electrical wiring, you have a few options. You can get a quote for replacing or retrofitting the electrical system, and you can work with the home seller to build these costs into the purchase price of the home.
In any event, be sure to seek homeowners insurance well before closing so you can find out if the home will be covered as-is or if changes are required.
Selling a Home with Aluminum Wiring
Buyers may be able to back out of a sale due to electrical wiring problems or the inability to get insurance. We recommend getting an inspection to certify the safety of the aluminum wiring or establish what replacements or upgrades will be necessary. It’s best not to conceal the presence of aluminum wiring so realtors and buyers can know what to expect.
Solutions: Replacement or Retrofit?
The best news: your aluminum wiring may not need a complete replacement. Talk to us and insurance company about whether retrofitting with special connectors will make the home insurable.
Insurance agents may tell you that retrofitting will make the home insurable, but you will still need a bit higher premium. Replacement may also be recommended by your electrician depending on whether the wiring has already been damaged or has potential dangers evident.
About the two options:
- Replace all aluminum with copper wiring. This will require opening up some walls throughout the home, although a good residential electrician can do the job neatly and safely. Wiring replacement is the best long-term solution and the surest bet to avoid grievances with insurance companies or home buyers.
- Retrofit with special aluminum-to-copper connectors. We can install dielectric wire nuts at every connection point. This prevents the corrosion that occurs when aluminum and copper touch. For many homes, it is a complete solution and satisfies any insurance issues.
Insurance companies dislike aluminum wiring for valid reasons. If you are living with aluminum now or want to buy a home with it, contact us today for an electrical inspection and wiring services to get your home powered safely and responsibly.