So you have aluminum wiring in your house and are ready to sell it? If so, there is something that you should know. Aluminum wiring can be hazardous for those who live in the home and those who might buy it. There needs to be a lot of work done before aluminum wiring can be considered safe enough for people to occupy the space. To ensure that aluminum wiring does not hurt any potential buyers or yourself, it is best to replace this type of wire with copper wiring before selling your house.
Why Isn’t Aluminum Wiring Safe?
Aluminum wiring was commonly used for electrical systems in houses in the 1960s and early 1970s. If your home was constructed during this time, there is a large possibility that it has aluminum wire.
So What’s The Big Deal With Aluminum Wiring?
Aluminum wires are completely capable of conducting electricity – electricity flows through them just fine. In fact, the cables that bring electricity to your home are made of aluminum.
What makes aluminum wiring unsafe is that it has a very high coefficient of thermal expansion (yes, I’m an engineer). This means that it expands and contracts more than other materials under temperature changes. And as you’re aware, the spaces where wires are located, such as attics, crawlspaces, and wall cavities, can see large swings in temperature.
Potential For Fire
Over time, these repetitive expansions and contractions can cause faulty wire connections. The reason is that wires are joined at junctions such as outlets and light fixtures using a twist on connector. As the wires move against each other, this connection becomes looser and looser. These loose connections cause fire hazard conditions, and an alarming number of homes have burned down from electrical fires because of it.
Another problem occurs when aluminum and copper wires are mixed. Aside from the differences in expansion and contraction, these dissimilar metals can cause aluminum oxide to form, generating more heat in the connection and making the wire nuts even more prone to coming loose.
How To Identify Aluminum Wiring
Disclaimer: Always turn off the main circuit breaker to your home when doing anything involving wiring and electricity. Also, contact a licensed electrician if you feel even slightly uncomfortable with electricity. Working with wiring poses the threat of electrical shock, which can cause severe injury and even death.
Check Your Electrical Panel
The easiest and quickest way to determine if your home contains aluminum wiring is to pop open your electrical service panel that houses all of the circuit breakers. This will likely involve taking out a few screws to see the wires coming into the circuit breakers. As already stated, make sure to turn off your main circuit breaker before opening up the panel. Once you open it, you will see all of the bare wires connected to circuit breakers and the metal strips. If your house has aluminum wiring, you will likely see it here.
Check Outlets And Light Switches
A second option for finding aluminum wiring in houses is to pull off several cover plates at outlets and light switches. This will expose the terminal screws on the component and wire nuts in the back of the box. Without touching anything, inspect the terminal screws and any exposed wires. If there are aluminum wires, you should see them here.
Inspect Your Attic & Crawlspace
One final option for checking for aluminum wiring in your home is to inspect your attic and crawlspace. Aluminum wiring bundles typically have white or black sheathing, and they will usually have the word “aluminum” written on them.
If It Hasn’t Burned Down Yet, It’s Safe. Right?
Wrong. As mentioned earlier, the issues that appear in aluminum wiring connections and cause a potential fire hazard take time to develop. Just because it hasn’t started a fire yet doesn’t mean that it’s not a ticking time bomb. Also, if you opened up all of the junctions in your home, you may be surprised to find some scorched wires that had issues but fortunately did not cause a fire. This is more common than you think with aluminum wire.
Here we will discuss your options when selling a home that contains aluminum wiring.
Fully Rewire The Home With Copper Wire
If you plan to sell your home to a traditional buyer with a real estate agent, you will likely need to eliminate all of the aluminum wires and replace them with copper wiring. This will require the work of a licensed electrician and will likely cost several thousand dollars or more.
What makes this work so expensive is that most of the wiring is hidden in wall cavities, and fishing new copper wires into electrical boxes for outlets, light switches, and light fixtures can be a major pain. Aluminum wiring repairs typically involve damaging some drywall, so be prepared to repair that and repaint after the replacement.
Offer A Price Reduction
Another option to sell on the MLS without performing aluminum wiring repair is to offer a reduction in price to the buyer. If your home has aluminum wiring, you can be certain that the buyer’s home inspector will find it. These findings can cause a lot of contention, but a price reduction might work well to smooth everything over. This will be much easier for you than going through all the headaches of changing aluminum wiring to copper wire. However, be ready to make a hefty price reduction, as a couple thousand dollars will likely be a slap in the face to your buyers.
Also, this is not guaranteed to work. Although many potential buyers will be happy with a significant price reduction, many will be scared off by the negative inspection report no matter how low the price is.
Sell Your House As-Is To A Cash Buyer
A complete rewiring of your home is no joke. However, the safety hazard that aluminum wiring presents isn’t either. A much simpler option than going through the hassles of ripping out aluminum wiring or trying to find a buyer that is okay with it is to sell your house to a cash buyer.
Cash buyers specialize in buying homes and fixing them up, so the electrical wiring issues in your home should be no problem to them. Selling to a cash buyer will eliminate all of the contingencies that typically cause deals to come to a stand-still after inspections. That way, you can move forward with confidence, knowing that your house is getting sold fast.
We Will Buy Your House – No Repairs Required!
We are professional home buyers in Madison AL and the surrounding areas. We will buy your house, aluminum wiring and all, and won’t hassle you with repairs or even cleaning. Leave all of that to us after we buy it!
If you have a house that you need to sell fast, we are serious about buying it. We will make the entire process completely stress-free for you so you can move on with your life.
Check Out How We Make Selling Your House As Simple As Possible!