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  • Writer's pictureZack Jurkowski

Currents of Confusion: Navigating Aluminum Wiring During Kitchen Renovations in Montreal

Ah, kitchen renovations - they can be an exciting and nerve-wracking experience all at once. It's a chance to turn that drab and outdated space into a stylish and functional masterpiece. But, before you dive into that Pinterest board and start ripping out cabinets, let's talk about something that may not be top of mind - your home's electrical wiring.


As a licensed general contractor in Montreal, I've seen it all when it comes to home renovations. One topic that often arises during kitchen remodels is aluminum wiring. Is it insurable? Is it legal under the Quebec construction code? Is it safe? Let's take a deep dive into these questions and more.



Insurability of Aluminum Wiring


First and foremost, let's tackle the question of insurance. Many insurance companies have strict guidelines when it comes to aluminum wiring. In fact, some may even refuse to insure a property that contains aluminum wiring. This is due to the fact that aluminum wiring has a higher likelihood of overheating and causing electrical fires compared to copper wiring.


However, this doesn't mean you're out of luck if your home has aluminum wiring. Some insurance companies will provide coverage with certain conditions. For example, they may require an inspection and certification from a licensed electrician, or they may ask for the aluminum wiring to be replaced with copper wiring.


Legality of Aluminum Wiring under Quebec Construction Code


Now, let's address the legality of aluminum wiring under the Quebec construction code. According to the Code de construction du Québec, aluminum wiring is allowed as long as it meets certain criteria. These criteria include the use of proper connectors and terminations, proper installation methods, and the use of specific types of aluminum wiring that are approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).


While we're on the topic, I'll mention that in my 20 years in residential construction sites, I've never once seen an electrician running aluminum wire. I've only seen them remove it.


It's important to note that if you're planning on modifying or replacing your home's aluminum wiring, it must be done by a licensed electrician who is knowledgeable about the proper installation methods and requirements under the Quebec construction code.


The Dangers of Aluminum Wiring


Now, let's talk about the potential dangers of aluminum wiring. As previously mentioned, aluminum wiring has a higher likelihood of overheating and causing electrical fires compared to copper wiring. This is because aluminum expands and contracts more than copper when it heats up and cools down, which can cause the connections to loosen over time.


However, it's important to note that aluminum wiring has come a long way since it was first introduced in the 1960s. Today, there are improved installation methods and products that have been developed specifically for aluminum wiring. In fact, aluminum wire is often used as the main conductors that feed the Hydro Quebec meter. That said, it's use is now limited to small runs of large conductors, like between the meter and the panel. The rest is run with copper.


How Aluminum Wires Fail


Over time, the use of solid aluminum wiring in homes led to a significant number of terminations failing due to improper connection techniques and the properties of the wire itself.


Because aluminum has a higher coefficient of thermal expansion than copper, and its electrical resistance is different, solid aluminum wire connections were more likely to fail due to loosening of connections or the generation of heat under electrical load.


These failures could lead to overheated connections, which pose a significant fire hazard. As a result, it is important to work with licensed professionals who are knowledgeable about the proper installation methods for aluminum wiring to ensure that connections are made correctly and safely.


Conclusion


In conclusion, if you're planning a kitchen renovation and your home has aluminum wiring, it's important to be aware of the insurability, legality, and potential dangers associated with it. It's always best to consult with a licensed electrician who is knowledgeable about the proper installation methods and requirements under the Quebec construction code.


While aluminum wiring may present some challenges, it's important to remember that it has come a long way and is often used in new installations. By taking the proper precautions and working with professionals, you can ensure that your kitchen renovation is not only stylish and functional, but also safe and up to code.

 

Montreal Contractors is a qualified company, holding an active bonded license as a General Contractor and Specialized Contractor with the Régie du Bâtiment du Québec (RBQ License: 5767-5480-01), ASP Health & Safety Certification and a $2M liability policy. Our employees have all passed background checks, are registered with CNESST and have their ASP Health and Safety certification.

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