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want to downsize and put their home up for sale, but a home inspector for a potential buyer said 60-amp wiring was outdated and no longer covered by home insurance.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

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.

“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.

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.

Contact the professionals at Action Insurance Group today at 403 457-1000 to check your own coverage, or for a cost-effective quote for your home, auto or commercial needs.