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Marianne Rasmussen

06:36PM | 04/04/01
Member Since: 04/03/01
2 lifetime posts
Bvmisc
Any reason why I should not buy a house with aluminum wiring? I don't know anything about it.

PattyB

08:59AM | 04/05/01
I am not an electrician--but--know someone who bought a house with aluminum wiring, has been an interesting experience. You could sit in a room and watch sparks shoot out of the recepticles-literally-no joke. They had to have the entire house rewired, at a hefty expense. If you are enough in love with the house, get a quote on rewiring it and try to get the owner to lower the asking price to cover the electrical work. Maybe you should contact an electrician in your area and ask this question of him. Good Luck

rpxlpx

12:46PM | 04/05/01
Member Since: 03/13/00
1678 lifetime posts
Aluminum wire is known to have corrosion and safety problems and is no longer allowed in new construction. You probably should only consider the house if you (or the current owner) are willing to replace it.

MarkV

08:02AM | 04/06/01
Member Since: 04/05/01
32 lifetime posts
Aluminum wiring was originally used because it is a good conductor and because of cost considerations. However, aluminum oxidizes, much like iron (rust), but the aluminum oxides form a protective barrier over the rest of the aluminum so that it doesn't oxidize further. An unfortunate side-effect of this oxidization is the increased resistance that the coating has to electricity. Higher resistance leads to heat build-up, which could lead to heat damage or even fires.

Compounding this problem is the bi-metal interaction between aluminum wires and the copper/zinc connectors found in most recepticles and switches. The aluminum oxidizes more readily and the problem becomes worse. There is an answer, however. Aluminum recepticles and switches are available which eliminate the bi-metal interaction and will give a good connection, eliminating overheating. I think that they are slightly more expensive than the standard recepticles, but they are a must.

If the recepticles in the house are all aluminum you are likely fine. If not, they can easily be replaced by yourself or an electrician if you aren't comfortable doing the work. As with any electrical connection, copper or aluminum, you must ensure that the connections are made tight to avoid higher resistances. One other thing to watch out for is any additional wiring that was done to the house. If it's all original aluminum you should be fine, but if copper wiring was spliced, twisted, or connected to the aluminum it has to be replaced. If you have any concerns I would consult an electrician, and maybe have them do an inspection on the house.

Aluminum wiring, like knob and tube wiring, is often viewed as unsafe, but it's usually not the original wiring that is a problem, but what's been done to it. I just bought a house with K&T and the original wiring is fine (albiet with no ground), but the light fixtures aren't wired properly. I'm replacing it myself right now, which requires a lot of patience and usually a helper. My 2 story house would have cost well over $10,000 to get rewired including the basement and attic, so it's well worth it.

Hope this helps.

MarkV

08:06AM | 04/06/01
Member Since: 04/05/01
32 lifetime posts
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[This message has been edited by MarkV (edited April 06, 2001).]

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