Steven L. Smith, Bellingham, WA Home Inspector (King of the House)

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Those 70's Houses

Whenever I am inspecting a home from the late 1960's to the mid-1970's -- usually 70's houses -- there is one concern I do not want to miss. I pay special attention at the circuit breaker panel.

Do you see what I see? That lower conductor is copper. The upper four are all aluminum. When an inspector sees aluminum wiring, at least in my book, it automatically requires a referral to a licensed electrician. Even if it does not look bad, in visible areas, we have no clue what it might look like at receptacles or inside junction boxes. I can tell you that some of the most grizzly connections I have ever seen involved overheated aluminum wiring. There is, usually, no easy solution for it. One can live with it, have it replaced or get it "pigtailed" a process done by an electrician. The problem is, that is not such a cheap little process either. The clients need to be informed of all options, and costs, by an electrician.

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspections

Steven L. Smith

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Comment balloon 10 commentsSteven L. Smith • July 23 2009 05:00PM

Comments

Thanks for passing this information along; I will keep it in mind the next time I have a transcation that involves this year in a house.

Posted by Pat Champion, Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs (Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty) over 9 years ago

I have noticed this in several houses and it needs to be passed along to the new owners that they need to have thier electrical checked by a qualified electrition.

Posted by Spencer Tracy (Century 21 R.A.N.) over 9 years ago

Bad stuff that aluminum wire. Couple that with a Federal Pacific or Zinsco panel and you have a fire just waiting to happen.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

And of course our State SOP's require us to call for further evaluation by a licensed electrical contractor.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Your picture makes it pretty easy to see what you're talking about.  I believe I can now inspect a panel box.  Thanks.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 9 years ago

In my 8 years of inspecting, I have only seen one house that had aluminum wiring installed. I guess that it was not widely used in this area...

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Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 9 years ago

I can say Fedderell Pasifick, I just can't spell it.

Our last house had a Federal Pacific Stab-lok box and aluminum wiring. We lived in it for 12 years.  Prior to us an electrician lived in it for 15 years.  Both of us raised our families there, more or less.  Every year I would go into the box and tighten things down.  Never had a problem, but....

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Steve - I cringe at the thought of this being the case in my parents home, which I will pne day need to unload. Believe it or not, my Dad was an electrical engineer.

Posted by Carol Culkin, Overland Park (Reece & Nichols) over 9 years ago

Carol,

With any luck that will not be the case.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Steven:  Luckily, here in Fort Worth, I cannot remember seeing any aluminum wiring.  But, back in Ohio, it was occasionally seen.  The best response, in my opinion, is to run away quickly.  Do not walk... run !

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) over 9 years ago

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