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  1. #1
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    Default Questions on Electrician's warnings

    I had an electrician out to my home because my dog ran into a night light and broke the plug off in the socket and the socket needed to be replaced.

    I have lived in my home for 17 years and have had electricians come to my home on multiple occasions.

    This time the electrician told me that my panel is overloaded 100 in 360 out and that we have aluminum wiring and that aluminum wiring is a fire hazard.

    I told the guy that we've never had any problems and I just wanted the outlet changed and I am not planning on doing a bunch of work to the house because we are selling.

    He told me that I would have to sell my house "As Is" or get these things fixed.

    Any advice?

    Inspection Referral

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Quote Originally Posted by jennifer hogan View Post
    I had an electrician out to my home because my dog ran into a night light and broke the plug off in the socket and the socket needed to be replaced.

    I have lived in my home for 17 years and have had electricians come to my home on multiple occasions.

    This time the electrician told me that my panel is overloaded 100 in 360 out and that we have aluminum wiring and that aluminum wiring is a fire hazard.

    I told the guy that we've never had any problems and I just wanted the outlet changed and I am not planning on doing a bunch of work to the house because we are selling.

    He told me that I would have to sell my house "As Is" or get these things fixed.

    Any advice?
    I'm not sure what 100 in and 360 out means? Anyway, if you do have aluminum wiring you do have an electrical system that has a poor history. Some never experience any problems, some have a few problems and some homes burn down. It all depends..... and that is a lot of depends...

    How old is your home?
    What brand electrical panel is in the home?
    What is the amperage rating of that panel? You should see a label on the panel cover that will tell you, or just take a picture of the label, the panel and if at all possible the panel with the cover off so we can see the inside of it, and post them.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Quote Originally Posted by jennifer hogan View Post
    I had an electrician out to my home because my dog ran into a night light and broke the plug off in the socket and the socket needed to be replaced.

    I have lived in my home for 17 years and have had electricians come to my home on multiple occasions.

    This time the electrician told me that my panel is overloaded 100 in 360 out and that we have aluminum wiring and that aluminum wiring is a fire hazard.

    I told the guy that we've never had any problems and I just wanted the outlet changed and I am not planning on doing a bunch of work to the house because we are selling.

    He told me that I would have to sell my house "As Is" or get these things fixed.

    Any advice?
    Jennifer,
    without more information with regard to the panel it's hard to say, like Scott said, " ...there are a lot of depends." ...along with, maybe, maybe not. Being that you intend to sell and hopefully get the proper value for the property, have you considered hiring a Home Inspector prior to putting the home on the market? That way you will get a good review of items in need of repair and will have time to fix them. Typically when repairs are needed during escrow the buyer holds the best hand and a $5. fix can result in a $500 or greater discount off the agreed sales price. Of course whatever defects are uncovered they will either require repair and / or disclosure with the sales price adjusted accordingly. At least you wouldn't have any last minute surprises with a pre-sale inspection.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Before doing any work, I would have a inspection done by a different electrician or a home inspector. An electrician will likely be cheaper but will be limited to the electric system whereas a home inspector can give you an unbiased opinion of the entire house. Be aware though that the bell cannot be "unrung" and you will be liable for either fixing or disclosing any issues of which you area aware.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Quote Originally Posted by jennifer hogan View Post

    He told me that I would have to sell my house "As Is" or get these things fixed.

    Any advice?
    I guess that's true. Kind of like when people used to say there was a 50/50 chance of rain. By definition if you don't fix it, it will be "as is" I do a lot of home inspections for people who are getting ready to sell. It makes the negotiations much easier, and lowers the likelihood of the deal falling through after the inspection significantly. Just from what he mentioned, there probably is some significant electrical work that a new buyer is probably going to ask you to pay for one way or another. It will probably be easier if you know what that will cost ahead of time before you list the house. There may be roof, furnace, etc. issues coming up as well.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    I too have never heard of anything like 100 in 360 out. I bet the electrician added up all the numbers on the branch circuit breakers to get the 360. So what if he did? Nothing because that is not the way to do a load calculation for a house.

    100 amp can be adequate in average size homes, especially if you have fuel oil or natural gas for heating, cooking, water heater, etc....

    Get a second opinion.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Google it. Aluminum wiring can indeed be a fire hazard and the panel and fixtures should be inspected every 10 years.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    No one has pointed out that aluminum wiring is perfectly safe and still used for 240 volt circuits. You said you have had other electricians work on the home. It seems likely one of them would have noted if there was aluminum wiring in the 120 volt branch circuits. Since I don't understand/trust what this electrician said about the panel, I also have doubts about what he said about the aluminum wiring. I recommend you get a second opinion from a licensed, reputable electrician or home inspector. As others pointed out, it would be beneficial to find out now, rather than from a buyers home inspector.

    I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. (Thomas Edison)

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy West View Post
    No one has pointed out that aluminum wiring is perfectly safe . . .
    No one has pointed this out, perhaps because it is not necessarily true as stated.

    Texas Inspector
    http://www.texasinspector.com
    What the plainspoken man lacks in subtlety, he makes up in clarity.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post
    No one has pointed this out, perhaps because it is not necessarily true as stated.
    Care to explain that? I stated that aluminum wiring is safe and still used for 240 volt circuits. Perhaps I should have said 'only' for 240 volt circuits, but I think it 's obvious that's what I meant.

    I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. (Thomas Edison)

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy West View Post
    Care to explain that? I stated that aluminum wiring is safe and still used for 240 volt circuits. Perhaps I should have said 'only' for 240 volt circuits, but I think it 's obvious that's what I meant.
    We are terrific when we are specific. CPSC would disagree with your blanket statement that aluminum wiring is still safe. So would I. Some aluminum wiring under some circumstances may be considered to be safe. Pre-1972 unalloyed aluminum wiring in a residential application is likely not.

    Texas Inspector
    http://www.texasinspector.com
    What the plainspoken man lacks in subtlety, he makes up in clarity.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post
    We are terrific when we are specific. CPSC would disagree with your blanket statement that aluminum wiring is still safe. So would I. Some aluminum wiring under some circumstances may be considered to be safe. Pre-1972 unalloyed aluminum wiring in a residential application is likely not.
    Well, it's hard to be specific when someone quotes only half your sentence. I did not make a 'blanket' statement if you read the entire sentence. I could say "You will die if your drive your car into a block wall at 100 mph". Then you could quote only "you will die if you drive your car" and say I made a blanket statement.

    But I will try to be more 'specific' in the future. Aluminum wiring is used in all 240 volt dedicated circuits in every new home I've inspected in my area. But I suppose I could have said something like "if properly installed....."

    I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. (Thomas Edison)

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy West View Post
    Well, it's hard to be specific when someone quotes only half your sentence. I did not make a 'blanket' statement if you read the entire sentence. I could say "You will die if your drive your car into a block wall at 100 mph". Then you could quote only "you will die if you drive your car" and say I made a blanket statement.

    But I will try to be more 'specific' in the future. Aluminum wiring is used in all 240 volt dedicated circuits in every new home I've inspected in my area. But I suppose I could have said something like "if properly installed....."
    My intent was not to argue with you. There are a number of folks on this forum who can fill that bill. I simply thought it best for you to be clear, in that the original poster is neither an electrician nor an inspector. It is that person's safety that is foremost in my mind.

    Texas Inspector
    http://www.texasinspector.com
    What the plainspoken man lacks in subtlety, he makes up in clarity.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post
    My intent was not to argue with you. There are a number of folks on this forum who can fill that bill. I simply thought it best for you to be clear, in that the original poster is neither an electrician nor an inspector. It is that person's safety that is foremost in my mind.
    Point taken. No argument. I did recommend she get a second opinion from an electrician or home inspector.

    I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. (Thomas Edison)

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Jennifer , I have a concern about this person you brought in as an electrician. Too many "Red Flag" issues that I see. Calculation of load (100 in 360 out) These numbers correspond to the breaker/fuse ratings
    100 = the main fuse or circuit breaker
    360 = total fuse or Circuit breaker amperage

    The Main Fuse/Breaker limits the current coming into your home , each branch circuit which is feed from the main fuse/breaker limits the amount of power going to each circuit (these use smaller wires and have less power capacity) as long as you do not draw more power than the 100 amps from all the circuits you will be all right (there are more details to understand this but I thought a basic understanding was needed)

    As to the Aluminum Wire . Hummmmm I wonder what this person saw. but I would guess that your electrician may have seen the wires coming in which could be Aluminum , My guess is that if you had a majority of your wiring Aluminum previous electricians would have raised the issue at their visits. Electricians have been aware of the issues with aluminum wiring for years (at least 40 back when I worked with my grandfather [master electrician and union instructor] so this is not a new issue .

    Best advise 1.. Check this persons Electrical License - you should be able to go through your state and verify this person is an electrician. 2. Find an electrician to inspect your wiring and maybe check the repair made by this person (if they were not licensed)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Jennifer , I have a concern about this person you brought in as an electrician. Too many "Red Flag" issues that I see. Calculation of load (100 in 360 out) These numbers correspond to the breaker/fuse ratings
    100 = the main fuse or circuit breaker
    360 = total fuse or Circuit breaker amperage

    The Main Fuse/Breaker limits the current coming into your home , each branch circuit which is feed from the main fuse/breaker limits the amount of power going to each circuit (these use smaller wires and have less power capacity) as long as you do not draw more power than the 100 amps from all the circuits you will be all right (there are more details to understand this but I thought a basic understanding was needed)

    As to the Aluminum Wire . Hummmmm I wonder what this person saw. but I would guess that your electrician may have seen the wires coming in which could be Aluminum , My guess is that if you had a majority of your wiring Aluminum previous electricians would have raised the issue at their visits. Electricians have been aware of the issues with aluminum wiring for years (at least 40 back when I worked with my grandfather [master electrician and union instructor] so this is not a new issue .

    Best advise 1.. Check this persons Electrical License - you should be able to go through your state and verify this person is an electrician. 2. Find an electrician to inspect your wiring and maybe check the repair made by this person (if they were not licensed)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Jennifer , I have a concern about this person you brought in as an electrician. Too many "Red Flag" issues that I see. Calculation of load (100 in 360 out) These numbers correspond to the breaker/fuse ratings
    100 = the main fuse or circuit breaker
    360 = total fuse or Circuit breaker amperage

    The Main Fuse/Breaker limits the current coming into your home , each branch circuit which is feed from the main fuse/breaker limits the amount of power going to each circuit (these use smaller wires and have less power capacity) as long as you do not draw more power than the 100 amps from all the circuits you will be all right (there are more details to understand this but I thought a basic understanding was needed)

    As to the Aluminum Wire . Hummmmm I wonder what this person saw. but I would guess that your electrician may have seen the wires coming in which could be Aluminum , My guess is that if you had a majority of your wiring Aluminum previous electricians would have raised the issue at their visits. Electricians have been aware of the issues with aluminum wiring for years (at least 40 back when I worked with my grandfather [master electrician and union instructor] so this is not a new issue .

    Best advise 1.. Check this persons Electrical License - you should be able to go through your state and verify this person is an electrician. 2. Find an electrician to inspect your wiring and maybe check the repair made by this person (if they were not licensed)


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    I think the issue is that there is too much information that is unknown.

    Age of home would be a great help.

    In the end the best advice is to get one or two other electricians to come out and do an evaluation, or a home inspector. If they all say basically the same thing it is a pretty good indication that it is what it is.

    Not to make anyone worry, but just because something has performed fine for "Blank" many years is not necessarily an indication it will in the future if the right stress is put on it. Systems are rarey ever static.

    Also a quote of mine is 'I have a job because others do not do their job right".

    Don Hester
    NCW Home Inspections, LLC
    Wa. St. Licensed H I #647, WSDA #80050, http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Single strand aluminum wire is the problem. When Al wire is bent, cracks form on the surface. Like charges repel, so electrons move on the surface of the conductor- where the cracks are. When electrons jump a crack, there is resistance which results in heat, hence the fire hazard.

    Multi-strand aluminum wire won't bend tightly enough to crack the surface in normal use. That's why we see stranded Al wire and solid Cu wire.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Raymond, Thnk you for posting that link, quite interesting.

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    I have read through all the comments and I did not see where anyone has made a distinction between the older poor alloy aluminum (that certainly had all kinds of problems) and the newer 8000 alloy that is fine as long as installed properly (correct devices etc). It is still allowed today and is coming back as single strand in #6 and #8 and you will also see it as the ground wire in the whips of some furnace manufacturers. I suspect it is only a matter of time before we see it in #10 and #12 single strand. You really have to know which alloy you have in the home to make the best recommendation beyond calling for further evaluation. The newer alloy was required after 1968 and most of the problems I see with aluminum wiring in homes was in that four year window between 1965 and 1968. And then of course there is copper-clad which had none of the problems we associate with the early alloy aluminum.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    My guess the "electrician" added all the ampere ratings of the branch circuit breakers together to come up w/ 360, not a good way to do load calc's IMO.

    - - - Updated - - -

    My guess the "electrician" added all the ampere ratings of the branch circuit breakers together to come up w/ 360, not a good way to do load calc's IMO.

    - - - Updated - - -

    My guess the "electrician" added all the ampere ratings of the branch circuit breakers together to come up w/ 360, not a good way to do load calc's IMO.

    - - - Updated - - -

    My guess the "electrician" added all the ampere ratings of the branch circuit breakers together to come up w/ 360, not a good way to do load calc's IMO.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Buell View Post
    I have read through all the comments and I did not see where anyone has made a distinction between the older poor alloy aluminum (that certainly had all kinds of problems) and the newer 8000 alloy that is fine as long as installed properly (correct devices etc). .
    8000 alloy solves the strength and flexibility issues of older 1350 aluminum but not the other issues of aluminum, such as oxidation and expansion. Nevertheless, aluminum installed properly works fine and every problem that I've seen with aluminum involved sloppy installation.

    There is little chance in the foreseeable future that copper will be replaced in residential use by any version of aluminum.
    My father-in-law was recently forced to "pig-tail" his wiring by the HOA's insurance company despite the fact that he had never had a wiring issue. It cost him $3500. The value of his townhome didn't change. I wondered, not so quietly, why his HOA didn't shop around for another insurance carrier.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Questions on Electrician's warnings

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    8000 alloy solves the strength and flexibility issues of older 1350 aluminum but not the other issues of aluminum, such as oxidation and expansion. Nevertheless, aluminum installed properly works fine and every problem that I've seen with aluminum involved sloppy installation.

    There is little chance in the foreseeable future that copper will be replaced in residential use by any version of aluminum.
    My father-in-law was recently forced to "pig-tail" his wiring by the HOA's insurance company despite the fact that he had never had a wiring issue. It cost him $3500. The value of his townhome didn't change. I wondered, not so quietly, why his HOA didn't shop around for another insurance carrier.
    That is a VERY expensive pig tail job. I have done many in TX, as long as it is done properly and as long as the wires were left proper length in the boxes it is a very easy job to do and not very time consuming as long as the client has moved furniture etc to allow access. Many times we found that electricians cut wires very short and that causes real issues when pigtailing and increases costs considerably.


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