When it comes to buying a home, there are checks that you need to make before you settle on the property. Once of the checks that we often neglect to make though is wiring checks. Houses that were built in the 60’s and 70’s often have aluminum wiring due to the reduced cost of the installation, but if you don’t know what this means, don’t worry we can help. Here we find out if you should buy a house with aluminum wiring.
What Is Aluminum Wiring?
Aluminum wiring was used as it was a cheap alternative to copper wiring when houses were built in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The issue with aluminum wiring is the fact that it isn’t as stable as copper. It is more susceptible to temperature changes, which makes the aluminum expand and contract. When the aluminum gets hot, it expands and when it gets cold it contracts. It this changing in size that can cause the outer casing to become lose. When outer casings become lose you are then with issue of not only increased movement in the case, but oxygen as well. If there is a spark, there is a change that it could then ignite.
How Do You Know If The House You Are Looking To Buy Has Aluminum Wiring?
Before you put in an offer on a house, you will want to check whether or not it has aluminum wiring. You can always start by asking the home owner, but they may not always know the answer. There is always a risk here as well, that they may not be as honest with you as you would like. Second to this option is getting an electrician to check the wiring out for you. A wiring check isn’t usually undertaken in a building survey, so this is something that you will have to do separately. It may sound like a lot of additional work, but knowing the answer in advance will save you time and money later on down the line.
Is Aluminum Wiring Illegal?
Aluminum wiring isn’t illegal, but it is no longer up to code. This means that new homes can no longer be built with it and instead copper wiring is used. If you are purchasing a house with aluminum wiring you may find that some insurers aren’t willing to provide you cover, or if they do it is at a ridiculous premium. This is one of the reasons that it is always worth checking whether or not the property has aluminum wiring well in advance, you don’t want to be in the position where you are hit with an exorbitant premium, or worse, no cover at all.
What If The Property Has Aluminum Wiring?
If you find out that the property you are looking to buy has aluminum wiring there is no need to panic as there are a few options that are available to you. Firstly, you could be in the position to ask that the seller rectifies this prior to closure of the sale, the chances of this happening if there are other buys interested in this property are slim, but it is always worth asking, especially if you are the only people interested. If that option doesn’t work and you are concerned about the overheads of changing the wire, then the second option is to contact an electrician and look at the option that is known as pig tailing.
What Is Pig Tailing?
Pig tailing is a procedure that makes aluminum wiring safe. If you don’t have any electrical experience, then we do not recommend that you do this yourself, this will need to be done by a professional to ensure that it meets the standards for insurance. Pig tailing is the process that the electrician will undertake where they will go ground all the sockets in the house and pigtail a copper wire between the aluminum wire and the screw. This process usually costs around a thousand dollars and can be completed very quickly. If you don’t have a lot of time or the budget, you can get this done within a matter of weeks. Prior to undertaking pig tailing, it’ll be worth checking with your insurance provider that they will cover this as not all providers will.
If you have the time and the finances to be able to do it, then rewiring the property is always a good option. Whilst this is a longer alternative to pig tailing, it means that in the event of a fire or any damage from the wiring you can be sure that you will be covered. Rewiring, though, is no mean feat. Regardless of the size of the property, it will take a lot of time to do this. If you are in the position where you don’t need to be in the property straight away then this is always the recommended route. Rewiring is messy job, so if you can get away with not being in your home when this happens we will always advise this route. If you have to be in the house when the rewiring takes place, get a contractor in who can get it done quickly and well, this route will pay dividends later on down the line.
Aluminum wiring in your home that you are looking to purchase doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have to buy it. For some, it may well be a deal breaker due to the insurance implication issues, however, aluminum wiring can be easily rectified. Once you have spoken to your potential insurance company, find out whether they would be happy with pig tailing or re wiring. Once you have this answer, you will be able to make a informed decision as to whether you proceed with purchasing the property, pig tailing or rewiring the entire property.