Homeowners wonder if Aluminum Wiring is Safe

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Edmonton Electrician | Homeowners wonder if Aluminum Wiring is Safe

A common question that Edmonton electrician, Ryan Hauer from Hauer Power hears a lot is from people wondering if their home’s aluminum wiring is safe. While copper wiring has been the gold standard for wiring since the 19th century, the high price of copper in North America in the 1960’s lead to using aluminum as a cost-effective solution. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before a wide variety of problems started to appear in aluminum wired homes, and by the 1970’s, aluminum was no longer favored by most builders.

Aluminum wiring is safe

However, the question Edmonton electrician hears, is from people who have aluminum wired homes, wanting to know if their home is safe. The answer, to the relief of many is that yes, their home’s aluminum wiring is safe. In fact, while copper continues to be favored in home construction, it is still allowed to be used, as long as certain installation methods and materials are used. Therefore, home owners who have aluminum in their home should be able to sleep better at night.

Aluminum Doesn’t Conduct Electricity As Efficiently

While aluminum wiring is safe, the problem is that it simply not as good as copper at conducting electricity. Thicker aluminum wiring is needed to conduct the same amount of electricity as copper wiring. As well, aluminum is a soft metal – think how easy it is to crush a soda pop can! And it is definitely a lot softer than copper is. This means that any Edmonton electrician who were working with aluminum could easily and unintentionally damage the wire, by accidentally crushing or notching the wire.

The damaged wire could more easily overheat or create hot spots. These hot spots are responsible for cover plates on light switches and outlet covers to be warm to the touch. As well as scorched insulation, and some electrical fires. The hot spots can also be caused by loose connections that are common in aluminum wired homes. As electricity flows through any wiring in a home, it heats up.

As the wire heats up, it expands, however aluminum expands more than copper does. This means connecting aluminum wire with terminal screws would, over time loosens the connection. Edmonton electrician states this is called creeping, and is what is responsible for flickering lights and brown outs in homes that have aluminum wiring.  Finally, the third problem with aluminum wiring is its tendency to rust.

Edmonton Electrician | Is Rust On Electrical Wires A Problem

Although aluminum wire doesn’t rust more than copper, copper rust continues to conduct electricity. While the rust that forms on aluminum wiring does not conduct electricity. This also causes overheating and hotspots. It’s for these three reasons why most electricians prefer copper wiring. However, homeowners are likely still wondering what they can do, or rather, what they should do if they have aluminum wiring in their home.

Edmonton electrician, Ryan Hauer assured homeowners that they do not need to incur the headache or the expense of re-wiring their home, they can eliminate most problems by installing special connectors at receptacles, and updating their electrical panels and breakers. Updates for connectors include:

  • Electrical panels and breakers AL-CU or CU-AL
  • Twist on wire connectors AL-CU or CU-AL
  • Small receptacles CO/ALR or AL-CU
  • Large receptacles (greater than 20 amps) AL-CU or CU-AL
  • Switches CO/ALR

Does Aluminum Wiring Need Replacing

It is a faster and more cost-effective fix than re-wiring the home. And if these connectors are used now, aluminum can safely be used as a building material and pass code. However, if homes wired with aluminum can get insurance is another matter. Therefore, Edmonton electrician says aluminum wiring has fallen out of favor, but that doesn’t mean it’s not safe. If homeowners have aluminum wiring in their home, but have experienced no problems, they may not even have to do anything.

Although their home’s aluminum wiring is safe, homeowners should know the signs that often indicate wiring problems. For example, flickering lights, or feeling warmth or heat emanating from the cover plates on their light switches or electrical outlets and scorched insulation. If homeowners want to be on the safe side, and not wait for problems to occur, they can always get an electrical outlet, where an Edmonton electrician visits their home, in order to see if there are problems that need to be fixing.

Be aware of potential issues

The homeowners will receive full report of what needs immediate attention, and what they can expect to do in the future. They can make an action plan together on what needs to be done and on what timeline. The good news is that homeowners with aluminum wiring in their home do not need to worry, but having a great electrician on call can give them peace of mind. Call the best Edmonton electrician, Hauer Power today for all your electrical needs!

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