Orillia Home Inspector Tips

Providing Valuable Home Owner Resources for Maintenance

Category: Electrical

Electrical items of interest to home owners in Orillia area

Aluminum Wiring in your Home

 

Aluminum Wiring in your Home?

The only thing that is certain about buying a home with aluminum wiring is that everyone ESA Logohas  different thoughts on  what a home buyer should consider.  The biggest problem with aluminum wiring is that many insures will not insure the home.  Some insurance companies will only insure your home after you get a Certificate of Inspection from ESA. (The Electrical Safety Authority).

Prior to obtaining a ESA Certificate of Inspection you will have to hire an electrician to inspect all the connection points of the homes wiring.  This entails removing all outlets, light switches, appliance connections covers  and of course the panel board.  If approved devices have been installed for outlets and switches they will be stamped with “C0/ALR” or “AL-CU”, which indicates that are rated for use on aluminum circuits of 20 amps or less.

Aluminum wiring is prone to oxidation at its contact points when used in equipment aluminum connectionsdesigned for use with copper wiring.  When the aluminum wire heats up due to gaps caused by oxidation it creates heat, this causes the metal to move away from heat source.  This is known as “Cold Creep” as the aluminum does not return to original position or shape when wire is cooled.  Some of the signs of problems in aluminum wiring is discoloration of light or outlet cover plates, smoke or sparking at devices, flickering lights or smell of plastic insulation burning.

Some studies have indicated that a home with aluminum wiring 55 times more likely to have an over heat or fire condition than a home wired with copper.  Some home owners have added pig tails to their aluminum wiring and is currently an accepted method by ESA.  Some studies in the US have found this method actually increases the risk.  Changing all devices to one rated for aluminum wiring is also an option.  Use CopAlum Crimp connectors on all connections, or re-wire entire home replacing all the aluminum.

Remember that when you put your home back on the market, many home owners will be asking themselves the same questions that you did when you bought the home.  This is definitely a item of concern when it comes to resale value.  Hopefully you hire a competent home inspector who understands aluminum wiring and is not afraid to tell you, the home buyer, the truth, thus allowing you to base your decision on buying a home on the facts.

As always,  CAVEAT EMPTOR – BUYER BEWARE

Read about Purchasing a Century Home

Electrical Issues and Home Inspections

Orillia Home Inspector Articles

During the past ten years inspecting homes in the Orillia , Severn and Rama areas, one issue is more prevalent than any other.  Electrical work being done by DIY owners or unlicensed individuals is by far the most dangerous and serious issue that commonly faces new home buyers.

When inspecting a renovated basement and a large amount of electrical deficiencies are Red Flag During Inspectiondetected it immediately raises red flags.  The biggest issue it the fact that if there is improper electrical work, a building permit was never taken out for the renovation project.  This also implies that not only was the electrical work not inspected, but the plumbing, structural and heating changes were also not approved or inspected.

If you buy a home that has had major renovations completed without a building permit or inspection being completed you are essentially taking responsibility for any deficiencies and repairs that maybe required.  Any savings accrued by the “do it yourself” renovator will go into the sellers pocket and any future expenses will come out of the home buyers pocket.

Read the article below regarding contractor who performed electrical work without permits or proper training.

 

First Ever Jail Sentence for Doing Electrical Work without Licence

Court sends strong message to repeat offenders whose actions put public safety at risk.

contractor in jail

Contractor in Jail

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Oct. 7, 2014 /CNW/ – On Oct. 2, 2014 a contractor was sentenced in a Hamilton, Ontario court to 30 days in jail and $6,250 in fines on charges related to
performing electrical work illegally and violating several Ontario College of Trade’s requirements. This is the first time a jail sentence has been handed down by an Ontariocourt for this type of offence. The defendant was also placed on two years probation.

Richard Hazel, operating as Voltcom Electrical Services, was found guilty on eight charges: four counts of working without an electrical contractor’s licence, one count of failing to obtain the required inspections, two counts of producing a false certificate of qualification, and one count of leaving behind unsafe electrical conditions at four homes in Hamilton and Burlington. Mr. Hazel was previously convicted in 2012 on 19 counts of violating electrical safety regulations at seven sites in the Windsor area resulting in a total fine of $23,750.

In addition to the ESA charges, Hazel pled guilty to five related charges laid by the Ontario College of Trades and was fined an additional $7,400 plus one year probation for those offences.

In October 2013, an ESA Inspector identified a renovation in a Hamilton home had been done without a permit and determined upon further investigation that repeat offender Richard Hazel had completed the work. Numerous electrical hazards were found.  The investigation also found that Hazel falsely produced an Ontario College of Trade’s certificate of qualification in order to gain employment with two licensed electrical contractors.

“The court has delivered a strong, clear message with this conviction and sentence that repeated, unlawful behavior that puts public safety at risk has serious consequences. Despite previous convictions, this individual continued to flout the law,” said Normand Breton, General Manager, Registrar and Director Contractor Licensing and Powerline Safety.  “We are very pleased to see that the court has taken this next important step which we hope will deter others in the underground economy who are working outside the law.”

How to Ensure You Hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor

Consumers are reminded when considering hiring someone to do electrical work to follow ‘the three C’s’: check to ensure the contractor holds a valid ECRA/ESA electrical contractor licence (you can search the database at www.esasafe.com); confirm that they are arranging the appropriate inspections from ESA; and call ESA at 1-877-ESA-SAFE (1-877-372-7233) if you suspect someone is misrepresenting themselves. “Don’t settle the final bill until you have the ESA Certificate of Inspection in hand,” added Breton.

Hiring an ECRA/ESA licensed electrical contractor ensures that the company you have hired:

  • is fully insured
  • uses qualified electricians to perform the electrical work you require
  • will arrange for permits with the ESA
  • can deliver an ESA Certificate of Inspection

About the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA)

The Electrical Safety Authority’s (ESA) role is to enhance public electrical safety in Ontario. As an administrative authority acting on behalf of the Government of Ontario, ESA is responsible for administering specific regulations related to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, the licensing of Electrical Contractors and Master Electricians, electricity distribution system safety, and electrical product safety. ESA works extensively with stakeholders throughout the province on education, training and promotion to foster electrical safety across the province.

Read about Century Home Inspections

Purchasing a Century Home

Don't Buy a Money PitPurchasing a Century Home requires doing your homework.  When buying an older home you are usually buying a home with built in character which has withstood the test of time and is hopefully still in living condition. There are some common issues that you might discover when purchasing an older home. Having your home inspected by someone with years of experience is paramount to ensure you invest your money wisely.  I have listed some of basic problems encountered over the years..

Your century homes foundation is probably constructed of cement and rock. Older homes do not have exterior waterproofing and there will be no weeping tile draining into sump. This inspection area is one of the most important and expensive to repair if faulty.  Many century homes will have little trenches in concrete around perimeter that drain into a dug drain hole.

Knob and tube wiring was typically installed in older homes when electricity became available. You have to have a home inspector or electrician check to ensure all the knob and tube wiring was replaced, many times I have found live Knob and Tube in service chases or in attics. Even if knob and tube was upgraded, the installed cable may not have a ground wire attached.  Some homes have upgraded outlets but no ground is not available.

Asbestos was installed in most older homes as it was the insulation of choice back in theold boiler - asbestos removed day.  Many older homes had hot water boilers with cast iron radiators. This systems were typically insulated with asbestos insulation. Many times during an inspection I find the basement asbestos has been removed but the heat ducts passing through the home still have asbestos insulation attached.  Asbestos requires professional removal which is very expensive.

Lead plumbing pipes and galvanized plumbing lines can be very expensive to replace and were used on most older homes. Most insurance companies in Ontario will not insure a home with galvanized plumbing pipes. Galvanized pipes are past their life expectancy and there is the possibility of water contamination from corroding pipes.

Older homes may have many layers of lead paint which has built up over the years. Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning for children and can also affect adults. In children, lead poisoning can cause irreversible brain damage and can impair mental functioning. It can retard mental and physical development and reduce attention span. It can also retard fetal development even at extremely low levels of lead. Thus, young children, fetuses, infants, and adults with high blood pressure are the most vulnerable to the effects of lead.

Your house is old and gorgeous but how is it heated.  During inspections I have had clientsOil Tank Costs who were quite surprised to learn that the only heat on second floor were some grilles in the floor.  So much for privacy or toasty warm beds.  Also older homes sometimes buried their oil tanks which is no longer permitted.  Removing a buried oil tank can easily cost upwards of $20,000.00 and if it has leaked, the sky’s the limit on costs.

The Orillia Home Inspector has over ten years of experience in inspecting Century Homes and is also a Certified Building Code Official with the Ontario Building Officials Association.

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