Does your home have copper or aluminum wiring? You may not know, but the answer has important safety implications: According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, homes built with aluminum wiring are 55 times more likely to have at least one connection become a major fire hazard. But why? To help explain, we’ve outlined the key differences between aluminum and copper wiring.
Being softer makes aluminum much more susceptible to nicks during the stripping process. When this happens, the nicks can become hot spots that cause overheating and thus an increased fire risk.
When supplying electricity, a wire’s conductor (i.e. aluminum or copper) heats up. This causes it to expand, and later contract while cooling down. While both conductor types experience this, aluminum expands at a much greater rate.
This expansion/contraction cycle causes the aluminum conductor to slowly creep out from below terminal screws. If not examined and tightened regularly, these loose connections create an increased fire risk due to short circuits or arcing (electricity jumping from one connection to another).
Both conductors are susceptible to oxidation, the process that causes rust, but it’s far more dangerous with aluminum. For one, rust on copper (which appears green) is actually conductive while aluminum’s (appears red) is not, creating resistance to the flow of electricity. This interference can cause overheating and eventually – you guessed it – fires.
So, in conclusion: Aluminum wiring is more dangerous than copper, thus requiring regular attention and maintenance (which means paying for professional service) to maintain safety.
First, you need to know what wiring is used in your house and if there are any pressing issues. Contact your local electrician and schedule an inspection. If you have aluminum wiring, you have a few options:
It’s easy to forget about our home’s wiring, especially when we see no easily apparent issues. However, a functioning electrical system is crucial to both the safety and comfort of your home. Understanding the differences between aluminum and copper wiring is a good first step, and proper maintenance helps keep you protected. Rely on the experts at Stafford Home Service for all your residential electrical needs. Contact us to learn more.