Was your home built in the late 1960’s and 1970’s?! You may be at risk.
Installing electrical systems in the late 60’s to 70’s with aluminium wiring was a common practice. During this time it was considered a cheaper alternative to copper wiring. Considering it was the more economical option, Aluminium wiring was utilized for almost a decade all over North America. In later years it was discovered although it was a cheaper substitute, it also created some serious safety issues.
Why is it dangerous?!
- Rust Characteristics: Rust is the formation on an oxide on the surface of metal. Copper oxide is conductive and will not impede the electrical current. Aluminium oxide on the other hand is not a good conductor and will interfere with the flow. It not only becomes inconvenient, but this can then lead to overheating.
- Thermal Expansion: Electric flow will cause any type of wire to heat up & expand,When it cools the wire contracts. Copper wiring’s thermal expansion is much less than that of aluminium. Ultimately, the extreme and constant size changes cause aluminium wiring to loosen out from under the terminal screws that hold them in place. Loose connections can lead to overheating & electrical fires.
- Hardness: According the the Brinell Scale, copper is more than twice as hard as aluminium. Making it much more easy to damage the soft aluminium wire and in turn creating hot spots.
How can you tell?
Despite the many risks, many homes today still contain outdated aluminium wiring connections in their home, because many people are still not educated on the risk, or simply because most of us don’t look for it to know it’s there. The simplest way to find out if your home has aluminium or copper wiring is to check your electrical panel, in an unfinished basement or attic to see if the cables are labeled AL, ALUM, or ALUMINIUM. Aluminium wire will be silver, and copper wire will distinctly be a reddish-brown color.
What do you do?
If you have yet to determine whether your home as aluminium wiring not has not been “pigtailed” the safest solution is to have a certified electrician come provide an assessment and confirm if you are at risk. At Proline Electric, this is something we work with almost daily. One of the most misunderstood concerns homeowners have is, they assume we need to open up all the walls to fix the aluminium wiring, when in reality it is much more simple than that. We do what’s called pigtail all the connections points such as; light fixtures, outlets, switches etc. Pigtailing aluminium wiring entails splicing a short length of copper wiring with aluminium wiring, then reconnected the copper wire to the electrical devices ex. electrical outlet. Although it is time consuming it is a safe solution and assures you meet the electrical code. All aluminium wiring pigtailing services should have the proper electrical permits in place, which then is also inspected by the City inspectors to ensure your safety.
What if you leave the aluminium connections as is?
Firstly, it is putting you, your family and your home at risk of major electrical mishaps such as a fire. Also, many home insurance companies are now cracking down on this, and will not provide coverage unless you have properly and up to code pigtailed all connection points, and have proof from either an inspection report or a letter from a professional electrical contractor.
What to do next?
Our certified technicians are very knowledgeable and experience with pig tailing aluminium wiring, and all of our services are followed by a inspection to assure nothing was missed. We provide all our customers with a letter for their insurance companies once the service is complete and has passed municipal inspection.
Your first step is to schedule a FREE on site estimate!