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Electrical service in some Calgary homes may not be covered by insurance

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Electrical service in some Calgary homes may not be covered by insurance
WATCH ABOVE: If you have house built over 40-years-ago, you may have to get the electrical service upgraded. There are still a lot of homes in Calgary with 60 amp electrical wiring. As tony tighe reports, anyone trying to sell a house may run into troubles – Nov 2, 2016

Hundreds of homeowners in Calgary may face unexpected bills to upgrade their old electrical lines.

Diane Staples and her husband live in a house built in 1971 with 60-amp electrical service.

They want to downsize and put their home up for sale, but a home inspector for a potential buyer said 60-amp wiring was outdated and no longer covered by home insurance.

“They had problems finding an insurance company that would cover it with the 60-amp service,” Staples said.

“They phoned their broker and he said, ‘no way’ and they pretty much backed out. They may have been getting advice that wasn’t completely accurate.”

READ MORE: Alberta home insurance premiums could rise following Fort McMurray fire, says analyst

In the 1970s, building codes for new homes were updated to 100-amp service as appliances got bigger and people used more electricity. But electrical contractors say 60-amp service is still allowed.

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“At the time this house was built, 60 amps was totally acceptable and it’s not that it’s become unsafe all of a sudden,” said Jesse Petersen, with Petersen’s Electrical Services.

“If you’re not overloading your 60-amp service, as long as all the equipment is still working properly, there’s nothing unsafe about it.”

Staples even had a City of Calgary inspector look at the house and he agreed.

A statement from the planning and building department says: “This is very common, however, we don’t see it as a safety issue … unless a house has expanded its electrical load. In this case a larger load may be required.”

However, not all insurance companies agree.

READ MORE: Check your insurance policy before renting out your home, experts say

Staples could only find four insurers that would cover 60-amp service, including her own. They charged a higher premium and set conditions based on square footage, the number of occupants and appliances, type of wiring, electrical load and the age of the home.

“I’m just a little bit irritated by insurance companies making their own rules.”

Staples has taken her house off the market and over the winter will spend between $3,000 to $5,000 to upgrade her electrical to 100-amp before trying to sell it again.

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