Aluminum Electric Wiring and Insurance Update
During the past 12 months or so, due to the potential of fire hazard, houses with electrical aluminum wiring connected to receptacles, switches and fixtures have been uninsurable. These houses, which were built during the mid 1960′s through the 1970′s, could only become insurable, if the all the aluminum wiring was replaced with copper wiring. The cost of this retrofit averaged from $10,000 to 20,000 and for obvious reason has had a dramatic negative impact on the marketability of these houses.
As of March 16, 2011 Citizens Property Insurance Co. has approved two acceptable alternative methods for ensuring aluminum branch wiring is not a fire hazard and is insurable.
1. COPALUM Copper-to-Aluminum Pigtailing Use the special AMP (now TYCO) COPALUM connector and special tool to connect short copper wires to every aluminum wire end in the Building, reconnecting the copper to the various devices (receptacles, switches, fixtures) and splices. Due to the cost of leasing this special tool, this retrofit avagerages approximately $5,000.
2. AlumiConn An aluminum-to-copper plug that’s connected to existing aluminum wiring at each receptacle, switch and fixtures. This method requires a $3 connector at each location, total cost $1,000-2,000.
Citizens is still researching the potential for CO/ALR connectors to be considered as a third insurable alternative method. This method will require the electrician to make sure each receptacle, switch and fixture is rated for aluminum wiring, make sure the connection is secure and apply anti oxidation paste. This retrofit will average from a few hundred dollars to $1,000.
The state will encourage other insurance carriers to consider these alternatives, with the intent of lower insurance cost.
I found another great article about the aluminum wiring and how it can affect home buyers on Holly Lovett’s blog.