Aluminum wiring in a house could suggest a fire hazard. Houses that were around in the 60s and 70s had aluminum as electrical wiring instead of copper. However, you need to understand that the wiring is not the issue. Aluminum is a safe conductor of electricity. The problem lies in the connections. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, homes that have aluminum wiring are more prone to fire hazards than houses with copper wiring.
Making Aluminum Wiring Safe
A total rewiring is not always the best option as this requires breaking into walls and going through every wire in the house. Imagine the work it takes to trace a home’s wirings. Even a residential property will still demand a lot of time and carefulness. Rewiring a house is both expensive and impractical.
What electricians normally do to fireproof the wiring connections is add a short piece of copper wire at every aluminum wiring. This way, copper is connected to every outlet, switch, or electrical device in place of aluminum. CPSC advises COPALUM connectors, and you need to have the proper training to install this. AlumiConn is a good brand, and this is available online.
An electrician will put this connector with a matching AMP too. They will then place an insulating sleeve around the crimp connector. This is also expensive but effective.
There are other mitigations that, while not recommended by the CPSC, can provide temporary repair for defective aluminum wiring.
- Anti-oxidant paste. The electrician can apply this for wires that have multiple strands or wires that are too big for crimping.
- Replacement of identified hazard-prone devices and connections that have better compatibility with aluminum wire.
- Removal of all flammable components surrounding the connections.
In the case of wire splices, please know that these need repair as well. You can find these connections in junction boxes. But these may also exist in receptacle boxes that have wiring for light or electrical receptacle. In addition, multiple copper pigtailing is not a recommendation for safety reasons.
Why is it important to be cautious in rewiring or repairing aluminum wiring in homes? Well, to start, a house is a safe haven for families. And to make a place safe, we need to eliminate the hazards. Contact a professional electrician today, and get your house checked.
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