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Old wiring mistakenly called aluminum

Neal Lewis

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When I arrived at the inspection this morning the homeowner informed me that the wiring in the house was nickel plated copper and not aluminum. Ok, I thought, what did the previous home inspector screw up on?

It turns out that a relocation inspector mistakenly identified the tin plated copper wiring in a 1940's house as aluminum wiring. It cost the owner over $400 bucks to have an electrician come over and check it all out and declare the wiring safe and not aluminum.

I told her it was a rank amateur mistake and I apologized to her, on behalf of all decent, thinking home inspectors. She thanked me for that.

Now, I've seen that same exact same question from inspectors on H.I. forums. I assume that with some type of classroom training this would be covered. And there's got to be some type of severe lack of a thought process going on, to think that a house from the 40"s could even have aluminum wiring from the original construction. It's this type of dumb mistake that gives us a bad name.

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Neal,you are right,thats what gives us a bad name,aluminum wiring did not exist back then

Yeah, but not so fast. What if the 1940's house got a wiring upgrade and maybe an addition in 1972?

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This is it. 1920's built, lots of newer wiring, some cloth wrapped, but at least one Al branch circuits. I called for an electrician to repair the Al ground wire and to check the place over.

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John K. has a good point, but $400 to tell them the wiring was tin coated CU? Shame.

I'm also a little wary of body slamming fellow inspectors who mess up. We all have our bad days.

Yes, and we only get one side of the tale. Maybe there were genuine repair issues, but the home owner chose to remember her version of the story. Maybe she chose to forget the 2 hours the electrician spent replacing a bad circuit in the crawlspace.

Tinned copper is easy to pick out. It is sheathed in woven cloth and rubber insulated.

Al wiring is sheathed and insulated in plastic.

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