Dangers of Aluminum Wiring

2/20/18
Dangers of Aluminum Wiring

If your house was built between 1965 and 1973, it’s very likely it was built with aluminum wiring. You might be thinking, “So, what’s the big deal?” Turns out homes wired with aluminum are 55 times more likely than copper-wired homes to have one or more connections become a major fire hazard. A typical home has 200 or more wire connections, which means there are 200 or more chances for a fire to break out. Find out the dangers of aluminum wiring and what you can do to avoid them.

Major Fire Hazard

Aluminum wire is more likely to cause a fire than copper wire for many reasons:

  • Aluminum is softer than copper, which makes it more likely to cause breaks in the wire, creating hot spots.
  • Copper doesn’t expand nearly as much as aluminum does. Because it’s much more expansive, aluminum can sneak under screws to cause loose connections to overheat.
  • The oxide that forms on aluminum causes overheating, while the oxide that forms on copper does not.

If you know you have aluminum wiring in your home, it’s important to watch for signs that could indicate a problem. They include:

  • Warm light switches or receptacle faceplates.
  • Flickering lights not caused by an obvious external source.
  • Strange odors that occur by a light switch or receptacle that smell of burning plastic.
  • Sparks or fire.

What Next?

If you’re unsure about the type of wiring in your home, do not check yourself! Call a trained electrician to avoid fatal electric shock and other possible accidents. After you know your home is wired with aluminum and are aware of the dangers of aluminum wiring, you have a few options to keep you and your family safe.

  • The most expensive and most permanent option is to completely rewire your house with copper wire. This can cost $8,000 or more depending on the size of your house. However, once it’s done, it won’t require any maintenance.
  • A less expensive option is to replace all connections with a copper pigtail using an Alumicon Connector. This makes an approved connection between the copper and aluminum. This is a permanent fix if every connection is swapped.
  • A third option is no immediate repairs if there are no clear signs of danger. However, you must schedule regular examinations by a trained electrician. Just because a home with aluminum wiring hasn’t had a problem for 30 or 40 years doesn’t mean it’s safe. The older the house, the more likely a problem will occur because the connections have been allowed to deteriorate.

Since 1965, it’s estimated that two million homes have been built using aluminum wiring. It’s imperative to know if your home is one of them and then take the steps to ensure your home is safe.

Call Stafford Home Service today for more information or to schedule an inspection.

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