Why Is Aluminum Wiring Dangerous?
First, we have to answer when was aluminum wiring used. Due to a copper shortage in the United States from 1965 to 1972, electricians started using aluminum as an alternative. While it was initially considered a viable alternative, a national survey conducted by the Franklin Research Institute for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regarding the safety of aluminum wiring connections at outlets discovered that it was 55 times more likely to reach hazardous conditions that could potentially result in electrical fires.
Through some investigation, they were able to deduce that the fire hazard occurs at any connections with aluminum wiring, including:
- Switches or receptacles
- Junction boxes
- Major appliances, such as dishwashers or furnaces
As aluminum wiring experiences wear and tear, it begins to deteriorate, which causes increased resistance to the flow of electric current. This resistance builds up, resulting in overheating when the current flows through the circuit.
If you know that your home contains aluminum wiring, we recommend that you give our experienced electricians at Hadden Home Services a call so we can help protect your home against dangerous fire hazards.
What Are the Warning Signs of Trouble with Aluminum Wiring?
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to detect any warning signs of failing aluminum wiring because it seldom exhibits any. Many times, overheating or failure will occur without any indication or signs of a problem.
However, some signs that you need an aluminum wiring repair include:
- Receptacle or switch faceplates that are hot to touch
- Flickering lights
- The stench of a plastic outlet burning
- Non-functioning circuits
Should you notice any of the above warning signs, it’s important that you do not try to fix the issue yourself. You could easily get electrocuted or make the problem worse. Instead, make the safe choice and call one of our electricians instead.
How to Fix Aluminum Wiring
The CPSC recommends three methods for the permanent repair of aluminum wiring.
The methods for repairing aluminum wiring are:
- Complete replacement: During this method, the aluminum branch circuit connectors are replaced with copper wires. The ease of a complete rewiring project depends on the architectural style of your home as well as how many unfinished spaces there are. When a new copper branch circuit system is installed, the existing aluminum wiring is abandoned within the walls. The downsides of this method are that sometimes it’s not practical to rewire a home with copper wiring and whole-home rewiring can be extremely costly.
- The COPALUM repair method: An alternative to rewiring, the COPALUM repair method involves attaching a short section of copper wiring to the ends of aluminum wiring at connection points using special crimp connectors called COPALUM. This method is often referred to as “pig tailing.” If you opt for this method, it’s important to ensure that every connection or splice involving aluminum wiring is repaired. This option is best for occupied and fully furnished homes, as it is less invasive.
- The acceptable alternative repair method: Because full copper replacement is extremely cost prohibitive for some people and COPALUM is not available everywhere, the CPSC recommends this as a workable alternative. This method is similar to the COPALUM repair, but instead of a COPALUM being used, a setscrew type connector, called AlumniCon is used.
Unsafe Repair Methods
Because there are many brands and types of connectors, it’s important that you use those that have been tested and deemed as safe for your aluminum wiring repair.
Based on the research conducted by the CPSC, the following are unsafe to use for aluminum wire repair:
- Non-COMPALUM crimp connectors
- Twist on connectors
- “CO/ALR” switches and receptacles
Our Electricians Will Ensure Your Repairs Are Up to Code
At Hadden Home Services, your safety is our priority. When you hire us for home aluminum wiring repair in Bloomfield, Windsor, the surrounding areas, you can rest easy knowing that we’ll get the job done right and all wiring will be up to code.