How Dangerous Is Aluminum Wiring?

August 1, 2021

Many homes built between 1965 and 1973 have aluminum wiring instead of copper wiring. Homes like these are much more likely to have fire-hazard conditions than copper-wired homes, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In fact, these homes are 55 times more likely to have fire-hazard conditions.

If you are living in a home built in this era, it may be a good idea to look into aluminum wiring upgrades. Read on for some more information you can use to ensure your home is electrically sound and ready to meet the needs of the modern household.

What’s the danger?

In the late ‘60s, the price of copper was suddenly skyrocketing, sending electricians and homebuilders looking for alternatives for home electrical wiring. Aluminum wiring conducts electricity just like copper and was a lot cheaper at the time, so it was often used as a substitute. The problem is that it’s not as durable as copper and can become defective sooner than its golden-colored cousin.

This means that it is more likely to fail at critical points over time, especially at connection terminals. This can lead to a power failure or fire in the home. It’s such a serious issue that sometimes even one single strand of aluminum wiring in a home may void your insurance policy. Home inspections will often include looking for aluminum wiring as part of the standard checklist.

What you can do if your home has aluminum wiring

There are some things you can do to remedy the problem of aluminum wiring in your home. If you suspect it may be there due to the age of your home, it’s easy to confirm. Aside from being a different color than copper wiring, aluminum wiring is usually marked CO/ALR, and the word “aluminum” or the initials “AL” are usually on the plastic wire jacket.

If this is the case, you likely need an aluminum wiring upgrade. There are two methods that are considered the most effective as permanent upgrades. These include rewiring the home with copper wire and using copalum crimps.

Rewiring the entire home is the most effective solution, but it is often expensive and can be impractical. The use of crimps targets the point most likely to fail, which is the connection. With this method, a piece of copper wire is attached to the existing aluminum wire using a special metal sleeve. A crimping tool attaches the sleeve for a permanent fix. This will need to be done at each outlet, switch and light fixture.

Electrical work is not something that should be taken lightly. It’s possible to seriously injure yourself or cause major damage to your home if it’s not done right the first time. Add to that the fact that the consequences of it not being done correctly can be catastrophic, and you can see why it’s best to call a professional right from the start. If you are in need of an aluminum wiring upgrade in your home or any other type of electrical services, contact the professionals at JB Electric LLC today.

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