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Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1142
Experience:  27 years as a Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, 5 year college Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma in Digital Electronics, Former Illinois Licensed Home Inspector
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HELLO. WE ARE IN THE PROCESS OF CLOSING ON A HOUSE AND THE

Resolved Question:

HELLO. WE ARE IN THE PROCESS OF CLOSING ON A HOUSE AND THE SELLER'S PROPERTY DISCLOSURE STATES THAT THE ELECTRICAL WIRING IS ALUMINUM WIRING (110). THIS HOME WAS BUILT IN 1988, AND MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT ONLY THE HOUSES BUILT IN THE 60s AND 70s HAVE THAT KIND OF WIRING, NAMELY AFTER 1974. MY QUESTION IS, WHERE (WEBSITE) CAN I FIND BUILDERS INFO FOR THIS PARTICULAR PROPERTY AND THE KIND OF WIRING USED, SHORT OF HAVING AN INSPECTION DONE. IS THIS POSSIBLE? THANKS.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Hello.....my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question. My goal is to exceed your expectations on Just Answer!

 

1) In your contract, do you have a rider clause that states such verbiage as pending a home inspection on your behalf?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


WE ARE GOING TO DO OUR OWN HOME INSPECTION, BECAUSE OF THE COST. I WAS WANDERING IF THERE ARE ANY PUBLIC RECORDS AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC REGARDING BUILDERS INFO AND THE TYPE OF WIRING USED. AS I SAID IT WAS BUILT IN 1988, NOT BEFORE 1974.


 

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) I hope that your Realtor and/or your attorney included a rider clause that the sale price of the home would be pending a licensed home inspection?

 

2) There is no website that I am aware of that will provide the builders information for any building, whether residential or commercial or industrial that utilized aluminum wiring. I can assure you that you will not locate any public records for the use of aluminum wiring on any home that was wired with it.

 

3) Yes, you are correct...... aluminum wiring in single family dwellings was used extensively across the United States from around the mid 1960's up till the very early 70's. The reason aluminum was used was due to a long labor strike at the copper mines located in Arizona throughout this time frame. Copper wiring was at a high demand and an almost next to nothing supply, thus the reason numerous homes were wired in aluminum.

 

4) The biggest problems with the use of aluminum wiring during this time frame was that electricians and device manufacturers were not aware that aluminum conductors act differently compared to copper conductors. One of the biggest problems was that wire sizes for aluminum were undersized by 1 wire size as compared to copper.

 

For example: If a 15 amp branch circuit and copper is used, the copper wire needs to be 14 AWG. If aluminum was used for the same 15 amp circuit, 12 AWG aluminum should have been used (1 size larger required than copper). Many homes wired with aluminum were undersized. Under sizing of aluminum conductors will result in a faster heat build-up, thus a possible melting of the conductors if enough current is following thru them. Thus fires were caused by this. The other problem was that many of the receptacle and switch devices were not rated for aluminum wires and were only rated for copper terminations. Once again, a potential safety issue with a possible excessive heat build-up on the device. Another problem with aluminum was the improper splicing and preparation of the conductors. In order to properly splice aluminum conductors, special wire nuts or crimping devices need to be used. Majority of the time, electricians just used standard wire nuts during this time period.

 

5) I have never heard of a home that was built this new in 1988 and it was wired in aluminum. Whoever the electrical contractor and/or the local electrical inspector who installed and/or approved such an installation back in 1988 should have had their license and/or credentials revoked. Any home built in 1988 should have been wired in copper and not aluminum.

 

6) If you do not have such a rider clause in your real estate contract, I would highly recommend that you hire a state licensed home inspector to check out the wire sizes as well as the splicing methods used. It is very possible that the switches and receptacles may not be rated for aluminum conductors. A licensed home inspector can confirm this for you. A typical home inspection will only cost on average around $400 to $700. Unless you have specific knowledge what you are looking for to do a home inspection, I would highly recommend hiring a professional. There is a lot that goes into any home inspection and not just the electrical aspect of it.

 

I am a former State of Illinois licensed home inspector and my licensing exam was approximately 4 hrs in length not to mention that I had to take a class and pass another written exam prior to taking the license exam. These exams are not meant for an applicant to pass, they are written for an applicant to fail the exam. On a typical exam, there are numerous electrical and plumbing questions as these are areas in any home that may have been abused or not properly installed during the construction stages. There are also tons of structural, roofing and concrete questions. Typically, the average person will not have knowledge of the types of problems to look for in a home inspection unless they have a background in home construction and are aware of all the methods used.

 

Also as a former college electrical instructor and a former electrical inspector, I would tell my students that the electrical system in any building, whether it is residential, commercial or industrial is the most used and abused system as compared to any other mechanical and structural systems found in any building. And that's a fact!

 

7) If you do have a rider clause in the contract, suggest hiring a state licensed home inspector and have them write up their electrical code violations. Once the code violations are noted, seek out 3 licensed and insured electrical contractors to provide you with a price to repair and/or replace the aluminum wiring. Once you know the electrical contractors price, use this to lower your bid price on the home. Or have the existing homeowner responsible for the repairs and/or replacement prior to your closing on the home.

 

 

 

 

 

Hope this helps.........If you have any additional questions, let me know and I'll be glad to answer them for you.

 

Otherwise, don't forget to rate me before you log Off.

The next time you have an electrical question, you can also request for me at:http://www.justanswer.com/home-improvement/expert-your-electrician
..........Thanks..............Kevin!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Hi Kevin, thanks for the extensive info. I'm not sure about the mentioned rider clause (its meaning), however we are supposed to have the home inspected (by my husband or by a professional) in a one week time frame (til 14th May). My husband will hopefully be able to verify the kind of wiring done. If it is indeed aluminum, then we are going to request the seller to have it fixed. That brings the next question, is it possible to have that done? Would it involve rewiring the whole house? It sounds like a daunting task. I certainly hope that wouldn't be the case.

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) The repairs and or possibly re-wiring will mainly depend upon the wire sizes that were used. If the wire sizes were undersized, then yes, the wiring will need to be removed and re-installed with the proper sized copper conductors. If the aluminum wires were sized accordingly, then most likely copper pigtail splices to the devices will need to be deployed. The devices, ie switches and receptacles will need to be confirmed if they are rated for aluminum. This is assuming that the existing aluminum wires were sized accordingly.

 

The entire electrical system needs to be checked out, not just the aluminum wiring issue. Proper grounding, GFCI's, the main electrical panel, circuit breakers, service entrance conductors from the meter socket to the panel, etc... they all need to be checked out.

 

2) Sure anything is possible for the sale of the home Susan, just depends upon how motivated each party is? Come the sale of a home, everything is negotiable. Personally, I would not recommend having the seller repair the wiring if it needs repair or replacement. I would use the home inspection as a basis to reduce the asking price of the home and you hire a licensed electrician to perform the repairs and/or replacement. This way, you get the home at a lower price. My reasoning to hire an electrician is that you will have complete control as to who you want to hire and not the seller. Personally, I would not trust the seller in this matter as they can always hire some local handyman to make any repairs or replacements. Any repairs and/or replacements with aluminum wiring should only be performed by a licensed electrician and never a handyman or someone who claims they know how to do electrical work. If the electrical repairs and/or replacements are not performed per the National Electrical Code, then potential safety and/or fire hazard issues may arise down the road. Only a professional such as a licensed, bonded & insured electrician who is intimate with the National Electrical Code should perform such repairs or replacement.

 

3) If a rider clause was incorporated into the verbiage of the contract for a home inspection, it basically means that you as the buyer can opt out of the contract and get your earnest money refunded to you since you do not like the outcome of the home inspection. Another typical clause will be that either you as the buyer can request to reduce the purchase price of the home based upon the estimated price to make such repairs. Another option is that the seller can opt to make any repairs and not you. Really depends upon the verbiage written in to the contract by the Realtor. If you have an attorney representing you for the closing, they can advise and assist you as to the types of rider clauses typically written into a real estate contract.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Thanks. The sellers info is to be verified. He might have no idea about it and just answered all the questions about the electrical "yes". Your point (#5) brings me hope, that the home should NOT have been wired in aluminum. That tells me that there are standards for home builders, correct? My husband knows a lot about building a home, and I hope that this Friday (when we'll do our inspection) we'll find COPPER! I appreciate your input now. If it's possible I'd like to get back to you later, after the inspection. Your info was very helpful.

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) Susan, you can come back to this question anytime and just post any follow-up questions and I will reply back to you. No need to create another new question here. Glad I could assist and wish you guys the best of luck on the new home. Hope everything comes out in your favor!

 

2) The electrical standards in the United States for any home built in 1988 were to use copper and not aluminum wiring. 1988 is not that far back, suggest asking the local electrical inspector and/or the municipality if they still retain the record of inspection.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

OK. Thanks again.

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Your welcome, glad I could assist.

 

 

Hope this helps.........If you have any additional questions, let me know and I'll be glad to answer them for you.

 

Otherwise, don't forget to rate me before you log Off.

The next time you have an electrical question, you can also request for me at: http://www.justanswer.com/home-improvement/expert-your-electrician
..........Thanks..............Kevin!



Kevin, Licensed Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1142
Experience: 27 years as a Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, 5 year college Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma in Digital Electronics, Former Illinois Licensed Home Inspector
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