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Selling House With Aluminum Wiring

We're about to put our house on the market in the Louisville metro area. It's a very nice home, but was built in the 70s and has aluminum wiring. What sort of issues can we expect? What will we need to do to prepare the home for sale and make sure it is up to local codes, which I assume have been updated since we purchased the home in 2000?
  • August 29 2013 - Louisville
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Answers (7)

Profile picture for JoshBarnettREIB
Call three Zillow Pros under the "Find a Pro" Tab (pick the ones under the top three, these are paid spots) and go over your concerns and questions with the Zillow Pros.  
  • August 29 2013
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Aluminum wiring was a failure and needs to be replaced.

You have a house that was constructed with it so it is 'grandfathered' in as
it was existing probably as the ones with fuse boxes and K&T .

At some point someone will have to deal with it.
As a buyer, If I saw that I would automatically say replacement and want it replaced and updated to code.
Aluminum wiring isn't code...it is allowed because of the grandfather clause.
The reason is it is not a good conductor and it doesn't play well with other metals.
Like I have posted before Electrical codes are updated yearly and are created to make a better system. The changes are made based upon the
fires, injury and loss of life...they are for a reason.

Cont. Education classes are something we attend each year along with association meetings and so forth. The stories are shared and changes that
are to early to be included in code manuals are brought to the attention of the electricians.
-Joseph-
  • August 29 2013
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Many of the homes built during the 70's have aluminum wiring and although not to code if it were built today, those built with it in the 1970's are grandfathered in.  Although you must disclose the wiring, you don't necessarily have to change anything unless there is some unknown issue besides simply the aluminum itself.  

However, there are some reasonably cost effective options to change the wiring at all the connections to make it more safe and more insurable (less costly homeowners). I just sold a condo off Hikes Lane and this exact concern came up for the buyers. We worked with the buyer and a well established local electrical company to remedy the problem and it all turned out just fine.  You may want to remedy the problem prior to putting the house on the market or at a minimum get a quote to know what you are looking at having to give up should the buyers ask for the wiring to be redone at offer time.  

Feel free to call me and discuss as I have recent experience with this and can guide you to the proper professionals in Louisville to help you. Best of luck in selling your home!

Stephanie Jones
Weichert ABG Realtors
502-802-3204
stephanie@abgrealtors.com
  • August 29 2013
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I have sold over a dozen homes with Aluminum Wiring.    The inspector always says it is out of code.    The sellers always say, "let me see, our subdivision has the same wiring in every home, never been a fire in 50 years, or a problem with the wiring",   no, we won't rewire our home for you.
It is not broken.   If you would like to upgrade this home to todays codes, go right ahead, but we will not pay for it."    I have never seen a seller pay to do this for a buyer…..  just saying.   Smoke alarms are needed even in a new home.   Never heard of a fire from this in my entire career in a very large town with hundreds of realtors in our company.    God bless the inspectors. 

TAD LINDSTROM
Realtor
  • April 02
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I have recently represented 2 sellers who had homes with aluminum wire. One refused to change the wiring yet we still sold her house. The other seller did change the wiring but they were much more easy going and wanted no hassles. It cost them $1500. Call me if you need the name of the electrician who did the work for my seller 2.

Neil Blumberg
Metro1 Realty
502-254-9600
  • April 14
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First, Aluminum wiring itself is not the concern; the concern is over the potential of a circuit being overloaded (EX: drawing too much power to one outlet) which could cause a fire.  You should talk to your agent and your electrician about this.  Perhaps having an electrician inspect and write a letter of recommendation and findings so you can disclose that with standard seller disclosures.  I have personally found that by addressing potential red flags helps to ease concerns.  If someone is that concerned or against aluminum wiring; they shouldn't even be bothering you with an offer if you put an electrician's letter of opinion and findings out in the open. 

Second, a home is almost 'out of code' the day it's completed.  Building codes are continuously updated based upon the latest technology (usually) available.  I hope these help give you some more information to help further your discussion and decisions about the next step in the process.

Remember:  I have bought homes with aluminum.  You bought a home with aluminum.  There will be another person who will buy it as well....

Good Luck!   

  • April 14
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Profile picture for Blue in d Nile
Actually... aluminum wire is still permitted for new installations  by code... but it tends to not be used for the smaller wire sizes anymore simply because it is not cost effective.

No, the problem is NOT "over loading the circuits".... the problem is in the CONNECTIONS!  The coefficient of thermal expansion for aluminum is quite high, which causes connections to get loose; and that is where the extra heating and even arching occurs.

If one connects aluminum wire direct to receptacles or switches, those devices need to be labeled "CO/AL".  The cheaper ones are not.  And the wire should be wrapped around the connection screw clockwise, at least 3/4 wrap, but not overlapped.  Do it wrong, and you have a bad connection.

And wire-nuts?  Those for copper to copper cost about 2 cents to 10 cents each.  Those for aluminum to aluminum or aluminum to copper cost about $2.50 to $10 each.  High press connections may be preferred, but are more work, and the cost is still high.

And panelboards and circuit breakers need to be rated for aluminum too if you leave aluminum wire.

I'm not concerned about aluminum wire, but if I see it, I want to check that the devices are rated for it, and that connections are done properly and torqued correctly.

I tend to want to check the spring contacts on receptacles regardless, as if they have aged, they will overheat too, even if copper with copper wire.
  • April 15
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