|Forum topic by Betsy||posted 10-31-2015 05:55 PM||755 views||0 times favorited||9 replies|
10-31-2015 05:55 PM
So I’ve had quite a summer and fall – very expensive season for me. First I had a bad allergic reaction to Aleve and very nearly lost a lot more than money. I’ve fully recovered except for the bills. Then last Friday I was cooking dinner and sparks starting coming from an outlet – and not tiny sparks either. I ran like a crazy woman to throw the main breaker to the house. Grabbed a screwdriver and pulled the outlet out of the wall toot sweet. The wall around the outlet was smoldering and the outlet itself was way blackened and one wire was burned off its screw. Not the way it’s supposed to look for sure. I checked the rest of the wall and it did not feel hot so I was pretty sure I caught the little booger in time before it led to a major issue.
I happen to have aluminum wiring in my house. As most of you know aluminum is a great electrical conductor – but the industry found that it did not work so well in residential applications. It works fine if you have it AND you maintain it. I’ve worked with copper wire before and have actually wired a whole house with no issues (yes – inspected by a master electrician friend of mine then passed city inspection). But aluminum wire – I’ve known is different so I’ve not messed with it. I had an issue 8 years ago when I was home from neck surgery – that was also a sparking issue that I did call the fire department for. Being in a neck brace – thought that was the best – the firemen came and checked the entire house for hotspots and the only issue was that one plug that was obviously bad. They turned off the breakers to the back of the house and I called an electrician the next day. The electrician came out and repaired the one outlet but did nothing more. I was very much not in the “thinking right” mode due to pain meds so I didn’t think to ask him to check all my outlets – and he didn’t offer.
That brings us to back to Friday last week. I called a local electrical company that does 24 hour emergency calls. It costs more – but I felt better. So anyway – he came out and fixed me up for the night and made sure I was safe. We unplugged absolutely everything in the house that did not need to be plugged in – which for me was everything but the fridge. He also cut the breakers to everything but the shop. I had my Kindle charged up so I was set for the night. He set an appointment to come back on Monday. Lucky for me – was that my garage shop was not wired when the house was built. It was wired many years later with copper wire – so I did have my shop up and running – which meant I could stay busy over the weekend and keep my Kindle charged – so all was good. On Monday the electrician came back with a buddy to fully check the entire house for any repairs to be made. They pulled every outlet and switch. Come to find out – I had FOUR outlets that were completely burned through – but the one that really got my heart racing – was the fridge outlet. Recall we did not unplug that one. And in hindsight the electrician did say that since we were not unplugging that one he should have pulled the fridge out on Friday night to check that one outlet. Regardless – it was way burned and the drywall was not warm – it was hot!
Long story short (or not) ended up having all the outlets replaced and pigtailed with copper and a special kind of wire nut for the purpose of meshing aluminum with copper – it’s purple and I think he called it “cobra or chohar??”
So after all that – I did not know that with aluminum wiring you have to occasionally check your connections and make sure they are tight. I’ve never done that or anything else for that matter with the wiring. I dodged a bullet – so if you have aluminum wiring – please get it checked to be sure you are not going to be surprised like I was.
Oh and one last thing on this particular issue – no – insurance will not help with repairs like this. Now if it actually had started a fire and I had damage insurance would kick in. Insurance does not pay for repairs of any sort that are not the result of a covered claim.
Finally, some of you watching the news know Texas is being battered again by heavy rains. I’m in North Texas. We got quite a lot of rain – but unfortunately for me – it came inside – yes – my trials continue – I have a roof leak. Bank account is taking a hit for sure. Insurance may help with this – but need to check into that.
Life of a homeowner. Be safe all.
-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine