Homeowners often ask us if aluminum wiring is safe, and if it is in their homes, if it should be replaced. We can assure you that it is safe and doesn’t usually need to be replaced. However, there are some special considerations that you should know about when it comes to aluminum wiring.
Aluminum Wiring: A History
Aluminum wiring is permitted when it has been installed correctly, with the right materials. Electrical wiring has been the go-to for electricity in homes since the late 19th century, but in the 1960s and 1970s, when copper wire was very expensive, aluminum wiring was introduced in North America as a cost-effective solution for homeowners.
What Are the Differences Between Aluminum Wiring and Copper Wiring?
Copper is a better conductor of electricity, but when manufacturers began working with aluminum wiring, they adjusted it by using larger wires so it works just as efficiently as copper. Aluminum is also much softer than copper, so this caused a bit of difficulty for electricians that were used to working with stronger copper metal wire. It’s easier to damage aluminum wiring, which can cause overheating.
Everything moves with heat and aluminum isn’t any different. Aluminum wire will expand more than copper when it gets hot, so when it is repeatedly being expanded and contracted, it can cause the wire to lose connection under the screws and overheat. In addition, aluminum wire can rust and corrode and when it does that, it does not conduct electricity as efficiently as it could, which interferes with the flow and can cause flickering lights.
What’s the Solution?
All of these issues required a solution and after some research, the problem was discovered at the connections – switches, light fixtures, at the panel, or at the connecting point of appliances. The solution was to provide special connectors that were approved to help eliminate any overheating or electrical flow issues.
What Should You Do If You Have Aluminum Wiring?
If you have reason to believe that your aluminum wiring is faulty or if you have noticed that your switches and outlets feel hot, you should have an electrician come out and test the system right away. Don’t panic – you may not need to replace the wiring completely, but it may require some maintenance or repair from an electrician that is familiar with working with this type of wiring. Aluminum wiring in good working order still meets industry standards, but in order to prevent any loose connections, you should have it looked at in detail.
Electricians You Can Trust
If you’re wondering whether your aluminum wiring is safe, contact Prairie Electric! We’re happy to assess your home’s electrical viability and make recommendations, as-needed.