Aluminum Wiring: Background
Aluminum wiring was used for residential construction in the 1960’s and 1970’s due to the high cost of copper at that time. It was phased out in Canada because of safety concerns with both the wiring and the terminations and connectors used when this type of wiring was introduced, as these were not rated for aluminum wiring. Aluminum wire is now banned from use in branch circuit wiring.
Aluminum Wiring is a concern because it has a tendency to oxidize, which increases resistance and may result in overheating and fire. Also, improper connections with incompatible fittings and connectors may cause overheating and fire, as well. But properly maintained and inspected aluminum wiring can be perfectly safe.
One can recognize aluminum wiring by its whiter colour (s. pic below) as compared to a more brown-/orange-ish colour of copper wires (s. below)
Sources: EnerGreen Home Inspection Services, Blue Crest Electric, B-Safe Electric, Ring Electric
Aluminum Wiring and Insurance
For insurance companies aluminum wiring represents an increased risk. Thus, some insurance companies will not insure homes with aluminum wiring. Other insurers will do so only after securing a full electrical inspection by a trained and certified electrical contractor. Often electrical modifications and rewiring are required to be able to insure the home. Another option could be specialty insurers who will underwrite higher risk homes. In this case the premiums are usually higher.
Aluminium wiring is typically not a concern for condo unit owners as most of these units were built in 1980’s and later. It is also reflected in cost of condo insurance which is typically lower than house insurance rates.
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