Fire in Chestnut Ridge sparks concerns about homes with aluminum wiring
A family has been displaced after aluminum wiring caused a fire at their Chestnut Ridge home.
It will be well over a year before Alix Joseph can return home after it was destroyed by flames that were sparked by aluminum wires.
"When we first bought the house, we got it inspected and the inspector said it had aluminum wiring," says Joseph.
At more than $12,000 to replace, he chose to wait and start saving - a decision he regrets.
During the 1950s and 1960s, prices rose on copper -- which is what is typically used for electrical. At the time, developers used aluminum to cut costs.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, homes built before 1972 with aluminum wiring are 55 times more likely to have outlets that are a fire hazard.
This accounts for most homes in Chestnut Ridge and many across Rockland County.
"Most of the houses that were built here were built in the '50s, '60s, '70s… I think it can be a very problematic issue here in Rockland," says Assemblyman Mike Lawler.
Home inspector Chris Licata says if a home you're buying has single-strand aluminum wiring, get the cost to rewire in the contract. If you already own the home, fully rewiring could cost $15,000 - $20,000. He says a cheaper alternative is adding copper to all the fixture connections.
"It'll be a lot cheaper, it will be 10% of what rewiring the whole house will be," he says.
Licata adds that it's not a reason to run away from a house, but to make sure to put it into your budget.