Repairing Aluminum Wiring

Understanding the Dangers of Aluminum Wiring

From 1965 to 1972, the United States experienced a copper shortage. Because many wires were made from such material, electricians had to search for something else that was both economical and safe. Therefore, they turned to aluminum, which they considered a viable alternative at the time. However, through 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, they 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 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?

an electrical outlet that has burned and there are singe marks on the plastic

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 you can be on the lookout for 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 Properly Repair Aluminum Wiring

The CPSC recommends three methods for permanent repair of aluminum wiring.

These methods 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.

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 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.

Get the peace of mind that your home is protected and call (860) 566-9887 or contact us online.