Harsh  Kaushik

Harsh Kaushik



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It seems that our home and property insurance companies are making things a little more difficult for home buyers and sellers once again.  Just as they've recently done with 'knob & tube wiring, they are now questioning the safety of aluminum wiring in homes.  

Some background: 

Aluminum became popular in the early '60s when the price of Aluminum was far below the cost of copper.  Builders, always looking to save some money, chose to install aluminum wiring, which at that time was considered a safe (and economical) alternative.  Aluminum is safe unless and until homeowners change lights or plugs and use the wrong fixtures. Aluminum wiring, if not correctly installed and maintained, CAN cause problems.


Aluminum and copper are dissimilar metals, and as such, expand and contract at different rates.  So when a homeowner replaces a switch with a copper-type switch and connects the aluminum wire. Over time the connection can loosen, causing sparks and possibly fire. The same goes for light fixtures, plugs and other fixtures.  

Homeowners should have a qualified electrician complete this type of work.  Approved marettes (the little plastic caps) are a must when installing new lighting to aluminum wiring.  For switches and plugs, Aluminum-rated items are a must. 

Does aluminum wiring have to be removed from the home? 

Certainly not, but a little extra care is required. A home inspector once told me that homeowners with aluminum wiring should inspect and tighten the connections on all of their devices (lights, plugs, switches etc.) once every 5 to 6 years.
Aluminum Wiring in Your home is all right; however, it comes with some Insurance caveats. Aluminum wiring was a standard in homes built during the Mid 1960s to Late 1970s and is an acceptable form of wiring per the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA). You should be aware of the solutions and costs if you are buying a home with Aluminum wiring. Aluminum wiring can be perfectly safe and is insurable. Still, you need to understand the safety issues and understand what insurance companies will give you insurance. 

Some of the concerns with aluminum wiring running in a home are: 

Aluminum expands more than copper due to the heat produced by the electrical flow. Constant contracting and expanding can cause the aluminum wires to become lose from their connectors and fittings. Loose fittings may cause overheating and fires.

Softer – Aluminum is must softer than copper, so more susceptible to damage with nicked or punched; this is a risk for hot spots and overheating. Mixing Copper with Aluminum and using faulty switches and receptacles (plug outlets). Both materials oxidize at different rates forming potential hot spots inside electrical boxes. With Aluminum, there are often Fuses. Breaker Panels were also replacing Fuse boxes at this time; so many homes with Aluminum might also have outdated Fuse boxes. Insurance companies are growing much less comfortable with Fuse boxes relating to safety concerns.  

How do I get home insurance? 

Hire an electrician to check all connection points to confirm the connections are safe:

1.  Aluminum-rated Switches and receptacles are installed 
2.  Have copper wires installed to modern switches, where the copper and Aluminium can be connected using anti-oxidizing agents.
3.  They may need to do the same for all connections to the breaker panel. 

Now : 

  • The Electrician will need to open an ESA permit.  
  • Once the work is complete, they will call ESA to have it inspected and the permit closed. 
  • Now you will have an ESA clearance certificate to show the insurance company.  
  • Now you will need to shop around for an insurance company that will provide insurance for your home at a reasonable rate.
  • Many will not ask for an additional premium for aluminum wiring, but some may ask for further compensation.


Thank You for reading,


Harsh Kaushik
Realtor | Investor Focused, Homelife Miracle Realty Ltd.

Toronto | Peel | York | Durham | GTA | Niagara Region

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