Aluminum: Good for cans and boats, but wiring?.....not so much.

Home Inspector with Perfection Inspection, Inc.

Written by:  Jim Allhiser President/Inspector

When I trained to become a home inspector I went to a national school and learned about all sorts of things that good home inspectors should be aware of when inspecting homes.  Over the years of doing inspections in Salem, Oregon I have noticed real patterns in building materials that were not reflected by the home inspector schooling.
Bricks for one thing are very popular in other parts of the country.  My schooling spent hours on the issues that can be noted with brick siding.  We have brick siding here, but at a very small percentage compared to the east and the south.  Most of this difference has to do with the shale that composes bricks.  We do not have shale mines on the Pacific coast and so if you want brick it has to be shipped in from the south or east.

Recently Chinese Drywall has received quite a bit of media attention.  That stuff is bad news. All of the newly built homes that I am inspecting however, none of the associated issues have manifested.  I have been looking for it, and well educated home buyers have been asking about it, but it seems that  our area did not receive the supply of drywall from those particular problem vendors.

Aluminum wiring was also a large topic of education at the home inspector training.  It is also another material that, for whatever the reason, we North-westerners largely managed to escape.  From the mid 60s to the early 70s aluminum was widely used for the smaller (15 and 20 amp) branch circuits in homes.  Problems occurred when the small aluminum wires were used with devices that had connections specifically designed for copper.  Aluminum also tends to expand and contract more than copper (which can cause loose connections) and it can corrode (which is an insulator), all bad things when consistent conduction is desired.  These issues lead to house fires and if your wiring is a fire hazard it is a very big deal!  I have seen and heard of small aluminum branch circuits in manufactured homes in this area but I have only seen one stick built home that had aluminum wires in 5 years!

The more experience I gain the more specific my inspections become, relating to the issues with Salem, Oregon homes.  Still, I can't forget about those nationally recognized issues.  A great home inspector not only needs to know about homes in this area but also about building products that are not generally used in this area.

Jim Allhiser President/Inspector

"Always on the cutting edge"

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Shanna Hall 06/02/2010 04:32 PM
  2. John Pusa 06/02/2010 05:28 PM
ActiveRain Community
Independent Thinking Inspectors
Moving to Oregon
Sparky's Plumbing
home inspection salem oregon

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Jay Schmitt
Keller Williams Keystone Realty - Gettysburg, PA
Gettysburg Real Estate Agent

Very nice post with some good information. Thank you for sharing.

May 21, 2010 02:35 AM #1
Shanna Hall
Real Estate Solutions - Kirkwood, MO
I love selling houses!!!St. Louis, MO 314-703-1311

Great blog- people ask me about Alumium wiring all the time- I refer them to the internet...  or their inspector... 

May 21, 2010 02:47 AM #7
Jim Allhiser
Perfection Inspection, Inc. - Salem, OR
Salem, Oregon Home Inspector

Thanks Jay

Shanna: Those are both great places to look!  I also pour over the internet for more information on almost everything!

May 21, 2010 02:54 AM #8
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, there is still tons of the stuff in my area----routinely come across it----never good either

May 21, 2010 04:55 PM #9
Margaret Oscilia
Creative Concepts-Home Staging and Contracting, Salem Oregon - Salem, OR
Home Stager, Salem Oregon

Jim - your inspections are thorough and reports fantastic.  So glad we have your knowledge and experience to trust when it comes to these issues (and many more).  I'm sure your national training didn't spend as much time on dryrot, mildew/mold compared to have much of it you see here in Oregon!

May 23, 2010 02:40 AM #10
Michael Collins
*ROCK REALTY|Broker|Realtor|Real Estate|WI Short Sale Agent* - Janesville, WI
CDPE, SFR , Wisconsin Short Sale Specialist Realto

Great info, thanks Jim.

May 25, 2010 03:43 AM #11
John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

Jim - Thank you for sharing a very good blog about home inspection.

Jun 02, 2010 05:25 PM #12
Robert L. Brown - Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic

Never too bad to receive some great information. Keep up the good work.

Aug 07, 2011 11:29 AM #13
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Jim Allhiser

Salem, Oregon Home Inspector
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