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Heimer Engineering New York pre-purchase home, building, condo, and co‑op inspection

800.605.1500
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Aluminum Wiring Inspections

Pre-Purchase Inspection
Insight Only An Engineer Offers

Home, Building, Condo, and Co-op Inspections
in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx,
Staten Island, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland,
Putnam, and Westchester

An Engineer's inspection, a home and building inspection, and a termite inspection.  You receive four reports: an onsite verbal report, an onsite written report, an emailed written report, and a termite report.  Call 800.605.1500 if you have questions.  We are happy to help you.Smile

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Homes, buildings, condo units, and co-op units  built between 1964 and 1973 may have branch circuit aluminum wiringHomes, buildings, condos, and co-ops built between 1964 and 1973 may have branch circuit aluminum wiring.  In 1974, two persons died in a home fire caused by faulty aluminum wiring.  After an extensive investigation of the cause of the fire, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission issued Publication 516, Repairing Aluminum Wiring.

➜ CPSC's Publication: Repairing Aluminum Wiring

Aluminum wiring is typically marked with the word ALUMINUM or the symbol AL.  Since most homes initially wired with branch circuit aluminum wiring have had additional wiring installed, it is important to examine visible labeling on the wiring.  However, even a careful examination may fail to turn up the presence of branch circuit aluminum wiring.

The aluminum wiring that is of concern is branch circuit wiring (12 AWG and 10 AWG wire) manufactured before 1973.  The hazard exists when aluminum wiring is improperly used in devices designed for copper wiring.  Copper-clad aluminum wiring (usually marked CU-CLAD AL or CU-CLAD ALUMINUM) is not considered hazardous.  When this branch circuit aluminum wiring was improperly attached to devices such as switches and outlets that were not designed for aluminum wiring, the junctions can become warm due to a poor connection.  This heating can result in a fire.  Over time, multiple factors cause the risks to increase.

Aluminum wiring is commonly used to provide electric power to larger equipment (air-conditioning compressors,  sub-panel feeders, electric dryers, etc.).  Aluminum wiring is also used to connect the electric meter to the circuit breaker panel, and as the main electric service drop from the power company to a building.  Although you may not be able to tell from this photograph, the large wires connected to the circuit breaker at the top of the photograph to the right are aluminum.  You can also see the aluminum neutral wire in the lower right-hand corner of the picture.

Aluminum wiring is widely used in electric power transmission.  Aluminum wiring is found in industrial and other settings where large amounts of wire are needed.  As long as the aluminum wiring is properly installed, it is not hazardous.

Any aluminum wiring manufactured in the United States after the early 1970s is likely of a different alloy than the hazardous aluminum wiring, and is at a lower fire risk than the earlier residential aluminum wiring.  If the computer that you are reading this webpage on is plugged in, it is receiving electric power that is being transmitted through aluminum wiring.

Branch Circuit
Aluminum Wiring In Homes

Most houses that were originally wired with branch circuit aluminum wiring have had an extensive amount of copper wiring added.Most houses that were originally wired with branch circuit aluminum wiring have had an extensive amount of copper wiring added.  It is often virtually impossible to find the aluminum wiring unless the house is completely vacant.  Because so much copper wiring has been added, the old method of opening a few boxes and looking for aluminum wiring often fails to find the aluminum wiring.  Even opening a circuit breaker panel may fail to find aluminum wiring in a rewired house.

If the house you are purchasing was built between 1964 and 1973,have a Licensed Electrician remove the covers from the outlets and switches, and look for branch circuit aluminum wiring.  Unfortunately, this may not be possible until after you own the house.  This is because finding the branch circuit aluminum wiring requires opening multiple electrical boxes, many of which are blocked by furniture during the pre-purchase inspection.

The old trick of opening circuit breaker panel (which a Home Inspector should never do for safety reasons) often fails to find aluminum wiring.  In any house that has been renovated or extensively rewired, it may not be practical to locate aluminum wiring during a pre-purchase inspection.

If the house is wired with Romex and was constructed between 1964 and 1973, it may have aluminum wiring.  A house wired with metal-armored cable is unlikely to have branch circuit aluminum wiring.  Since the use of Romex is limited in the City of New York, you rarely find branch circuit aluminum wiring in homes within the City of New York.

If the house is wired with Romex and was constructed between 1964 and 1973, it may have aluminum wiring.Historical Note:  Aluminum (and steel) wiring was reportedly used in some homes during World War II due to the copper shortage.  If aluminum or steel wiring was used, it is rare and there are no reported incidents of problems with this wiring.  The rumors of wartime aluminum and steel wire are likely based on homeowners who were unable to obtain copper wire, and improvised with whatever metal was available.

Only a Licensed Electrician should open a circuit breaker or fuse panel because of the associated risks.  An Inspector or anyone else who is not a Licensed Electrician should never open a circuit breaker or fuse panel.

A Licensed Electrician is in the position to correct hazardous conditions created by opening electrical panels.  Someone who is not a Licensed Electrician lacks the experience to deal with these hazardous conditions.  If a problem develops because of opening the panel (for example, a circuit breaker becomes loose), the Inspector is not in a position to resolve the problem.  Thus, a responsible will not generally open an electrical panel.

Home, building, condo, and co-op inspections and electrical system inspectionsMost communities require electricians to be licensed, and prohibit anyone other than a Licensed Electrician from performing electrical work.  (Exceptions are made for homeowners wiring their own home.)  So a home inspector who is not a Licensed Electrician is not permitted to open an electrical panel.

An experienced Engineer can determine the condition of the wiring by visual examination.  The question you should ask is why do some home inspectors insist on opening the circuit breaker panel when it could create a hazard?  Can't these home inspectors find risks and hazards by examining the way the building is wired?  Are these home Inspectors missing problems because of their limited abilities?  Are these home inspectors missing serious wiring problems because of their narrow focus?

Pre-Purchase Inspections

During the inspection, the Licensed Engineer examines, analyzes, and/or reports on (as appropriate based on the building):

Structural
System
The
Foundation
Heating
System
Electrical
System
Plumbing
System
Hot Water
System
Roofing
System
Leaders &
Gutters
The
Siding
Termites
 
Carpenter
Ants
Exterior
Trim
Basement
Water
Rotted
Wood
Appliances
 
Air
Conditioning
Windows
And Doors
The
Interior
Carbon
Monoxide
Mold
 
Asbestos
 

Contact Heimer Engineering 24/7

Heimer Engineering New York pre-purchase home, building, condo, and co‑op inspectionsWe are happy to help you.  To set up an appointment for a pre-purchase inspection, or to find out about Engineering services or expert court testimony, click below for a contact form, send us an email, text us at 6602 0091 55, or call 800.605.1500.  If no staff member is in the office, leave a message. Remember to ask about a web discount. 

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Heimer Engineering serves the Metro New York area, including New York City (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island), Long Island (Nassau County, Suffolk County), and Upstate New York (Rockland County, Putnam County, and Westchester County).

Heimer Engineering respects your privacy.  Some inspection firms share information with insurance, landscaping, home maintenance, moving, cable, mortgage, and other companies.  Some inspection firms sell their client lists.  These practices are unethical.  You will not receive phone calls or solicitation emails from third parties as a result of providing personal information.

In the event of a life-threatening emergency (fire, building in danger of collapse, facade with loose bricks, debris falling from a building, gas leak, etc.) do not call Heimer Engineering.  If there is a life-threatening emergency or other hazardous condition, call 911.  Emergency situations need to be handled immediately by first-responders who can evacuate buildings, have utilities shut off, and take other steps necessary to preserve life.

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Heimer Engineering New York pre-purchase home, building, condo, and co‑op inspectionInspections are performed only after the client signs a pre-inspection agreement.  The use of this website is governed by our Terms of Use.  This website is made available for informational purposes, and does not represent a professional opinion of your particular situation.

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Heimer Engineering performs home inspections, building inspections, condominium inspections, and co-op inspections in the State of New York.  We do not perform inspections or recommend Inspectors or Engineers in the areas outside of the State of New York.  We also provide Licensed Professional Engineer consultation services including hurricane and storm damage and damage from adjoining constructionExpert witness services are provided regarding playground injuries, parking lot, walkway, and stairway slip, trip, and fall.

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