In the 1960’s and 1970’s while new homes were being built, some of them were wired with aluminum wiring instead of the standard of copper wiring. Aluminum was considered a less expensive but viable option. Little did they know at that time, aluminum is also a more brittle option, that will corrode if exposed to moisture, and can expand and contract over time causing it to loosen. This loosening and breaking can cause overheating, and all together, these factors can lead to it getting hot and causing a fire.
Obviously this is a problem. A fire that could start from within your walls, with little to no warning is a huge hazard. Not all homes with aluminum wiring are unsafe, with proper installation and care, aluminum wiring does remain in some homes to this day, as it has been grandfathered in. This means, if the aluminum wire is already in the house, it can stay, just no more aluminum wiring can be put in. If the home has any renovations, the aluminum wiring has to be replaced with its safer counterpart - copper.
Saskatchewan is now following suit with other provinces in Canada, to help mitigate the risk of aluminum wiring, in the insurance industry. Starting recently in the province, most insurance companies are requiring a licensed electrician to complete an electrical home compliance report, before they will offer home insurance on a newly purchased home that has aluminum wiring in it.
According to the Insurance Brokers Association of Saskatchewan, some of the information required will include:
• Confirmation of the amperage size of the home’s electrical service;
• Confirmation the main panel, grounding, and bonding are compliant;
• Confirmation the correct circuit protection is used;
• The percentage of aluminum wiring in the home and whether it meets standards; and
• A complete list of deficiencies as well as a list of recommended actions to remediate deficiencies.
Some insurance companies are not offering insurance to any home with aluminum wiring going forward. Be sure to know the specific requirements of your insurance company before you hire someone to do your inspection. The best way to ensure everything is done properly and goes smoothly is to work with your realtor, and use an insurance broker who knows the requirements and exceptions.