Aluminum wiring. They still make it today believe it or not, although it’s not for all applications anymore. You might still see it used for main services, distributions, longer distances applications. At Hauer Power Electrical, your Edmonton Electrician we believe aluminum wiring has no place in someone’s home due to it’s problematic properties. It conducts just about as well as copper, but has nowhere near the rigidity. Aluminum is soft, brittle and prone to oxidation. Being far more malleable it is far easier to break. Even when the aluminum wiring has been only pinched, it will create a hotspot at this pinch point. This hot spot will get hotter and hotter over time and eventually fail. Sometimes just enough vibration can do it, other times you can just take the risk and come out on top. The reality is, the longer it has been left untouched, the more likely it is to start an electrical fire. As your Edmonton Electrician we strongly advise that if you or someone you know has aluminum wiring to have it looked at by a professional as soon as possible.
Aside from how weak the aluminum metal is, devices have to be rated to be safely compatible with such wiring as well. Devices must be marked Al/Cu” or “CO/ALR in order to comply to be installed onto aluminum wiring. If not followed properly that’s one more thing that can go wrong. Another item required for Aluminum wiring connections is called an anti-oxidant, or no-alox. This viscous substance is required in an attempt to stop the Aluminum wiring from developing a natural oxidization effect, problematic in electrical wiring.
Aluminum expands more than copper when there is an electrical current running through it, making it more likely for the aluminum wire to slip out from under the devices terminal screws. This will cause loose connections which creates arcing, which even if very small at first, will overheat and create an electrical fire. Aluminum oxide will form over aluminum wiring and can cause overheating. Copper also has an oxide that forms on its surface but it does not have these same overheating properties.
To Fix: The best way to fix a home wired with aluminum wiring is to get rid of the aluminum wiring. Unfortunately this task can become costly to the customer, with other repairs. Often times every AL/CU connection can be redone and verified safe with the proper oxidation compound and splicing techniques. However this method would be considered a temporary measure. If a customer were to decide to keep aluminum wiring in the walls their best course of action would be to continually have a qualified electrician inspect, and re-tighten connections at scheduled intervals of time. The only real fix for aluminum wiring is a complete rewire, there’s no shortcuts to take here.