Missed Aluminum Wiring

Eight weeks ago we purchased a home in Saratoga Springs, NY. Our inspector missed that our home has aluminum wiring! There’s a box that clearly states aluminum wiring, which he didn’t check. Beside this box is also an asterisk with states it should be inspected by an electrician. Had this box been checked we certainly would’ve had it inspected prior to purchasing the home. As it turned out, when we found the aluminum wiring we had an electrician look at it and found that all the receptacles are rated for copper wiring only, the wiring is installed incorrectly, sparks are coming from a few of the receptacles due to being installed incorrectly and there’s evidence of overheating in a few of the receptacles. Scary that our inspector didn’t note the 4 main branches of aluminum coming from the main circuit breaker. Is there any recourse we have? I really feel the inspector should be responsible for this serious mistake. Small claims court? Thanks for any advice.

AL wiring, in and of itself, is not a defect. Installed and maintained properly, there are no issues with it. Now… the improper receptacles are a problem, but the inspector is not required to remove them to verify their rating. I will admit most inspectors will advise of the presence of AL and mention the limitations and concerns associated with it’s use.

Personally, I would call your inspector and discuss the situation with him/her. Most inspectors are professionals and will do the right thing, once all the pertinant information is received and perhaps a revisit to the home for further investigation by the inspector.

Is any of the aluminum wiring exposed? I find sometimes people try to hide it from view by many ways. Drywall, Drop ceiling difficult to remove and Insulation. If it could be seen normally I would also go back to the Home Inspector and ask why?
We all make miistakes and I am sure he is willing as** Jonas** says to MAKE IT RIGHT to protect his reputation.

I agree with Jeff that your first call should be to the inspector.

In most states, and in most HI associations, identification of wiring-type is generally “required.” However, there may have been conditions present that prevented your inspector from making that determination, which (if so) should have been explained in your report.

It sounds like your inspector used/uses a “checklist” type reporting system. Was anything “checked” in reference to wire type?

The 4 wires coming from the main breaker are not SEC wires, are they? Are they solid strand ? did the inspector remove the cover on the electric panel and look at the wiring? The inspector is not required to remove receptacle covers but if he removed the main panel cover, I believe he should of noticed the Al wiring and recommended further evaluation by an electrician to look for the same issues you found.
New York State standards require the inspector to report the presence of Al wiring if it is visible.

Problem is those wires may have been removed to sell the home to unsuspecting buyers and the rest of the wires are aluminum but hidden. In order to determine this a person would have to look at an outlet by taking the cover off of a receptacle outlet box and may even have to pull it out.
This is not part of a normal SOP.

Just an fyi… this method isn’t always possible. I have seen many panels where the conductor insulation was not stripped back far enough to determine the conductor metal itself. Yes, the insulation is a clue also, but sometimes cannot say definitively one way or the other.

Jeff- even if the insulation was not stripped back, the equipment grounding conductors should have been visible. Unless there were other circumstances that we are not aware of, the AL wiring should have been noticed.

Yes don’t forget about tinned copper can look like Aluminum. So eyeballing it can get you in trouble too! You must be able to read the cable clearly marked AL.

TCCW is always cloth covered. It’s difficult to confuse the two…

Here is a thread that talks about TCCW and has pictures.

Good point Bill.

I agree that the first call should have been to the inspector.
I found solid strand Al in a 1974 duplex being bought by a savy investor. He checked with his insurance company and they have an issue with it. Keep in mind that the only premanent solution according to CPSC is a special Al/Cu connector. The CPSC feels that wire nut and anti- oxidant is a temp repair. NEC allows wire nut pig tails though.

I sometimes do inspections in Saratoga Springs, so when I read this, I confess, I actually reviewed my records to see if I was in Saratoga 8 weeks ago. Thankfully, it was not me. Then again, if I did the inspection, we would not have this issue.:slight_smile:

The insulation is plastic on AL, tin coated had a braided fabric. Not hard to confuse when you know what to look for.

Then there is also the wire gauge that would be larger for the AL.

Assuming the correct gauge was installed to begin with! :wink:

Yes Jim but open to the public we want them to look for the AL before they assume they have it. Most Home Inspectors already now the difference. I was referring to the wire itself and not the insulation.
All good points though for people to think about and I imagine we could spend a day on different opinions as to the correction path to take.
Not saying I would argue with the path made either as long as everyone is safe.

The insulation will give you a clue as to the conductor material. And you also seemed confused when you stated that tin coated copper could be mistaken for AL.

Why would the public need to look for the AL wiring? They have just paid someone to perform a thorough inspection of the property.

Provide some pictures and you will see why! Cloth rubber plastic is not at issue here.
The color of the wire is silver not copper.
The size is bigger for AL as Jeffrey pointed out but some people don’t know this.

You were the one who strayed here Kevin. You made this statement, which is misleading and really had no business being included in this thread;

TCCW and AL wiring are not confused by those who know what they’re doing. The original post was addressing AL wiring as reported by an electrician, not the home owner.

We don’t want the “public” investigating their own wiring without hiring a professional.