Updated: Mar 23
So you bought an older home and on the home inspectors report, it noted that the wiring in the house was aluminum. Should this be a cause for concern?
The quick and short answer is this is something that you most certainly need to pay attention to as it pertains to home safety. Here in this blog, we will cover the short history of aluminum wiring in homes and what you need to pay attention to if it is installed in your home.
Short History of Aluminum Wiring
Aluminum Wiring was used in homes in the 1960s to the 1970s as an alternative to copper wiring. Aluminum wire started to be used as the costs skyrocketed on the cost of copper and people were looking for an alternative. Aluminum is also a better conductor and was used for larger sized wired in electrical distributions already at the time, so it seemed like the most logical choice. As with everything in life, there are always negatives to them.
Aluminum wire even though being a great conductor and reasonably priced, it had a couple of major drawbacks. Aluminum is a soft metal and compresses easily under pressure. Also it expands and contracts with heat and becomes loose over time. So, in another words, at any connection point in an electrical system, there is potentially a risk. Since there are many connection points in a home, this amplified the major weakness.
Another fault with Aluminum wire is that when it rusts, it is less conductive. With being less conductive, this causes heating up in the wire. Copper when it rusts does not loose very much conductivity so it preferred due to maintenance.
House fires started popping up dues to the use of Aluminum and it came apparent that its use could not continue to be used in peoples homes. It was banned in the early 1970s, but it had already been installed in millions of homes.
So what does this all mean if you own a home with aluminum installed Is this a cause for concern
Potential Warning Signs that Theres a Problem
Well as you know, the problems associated with aluminum use in homes didn't cause every single home to be rewired when the problem was found. There are ways to make it safe and if properly maintained can last a long time.
If you have aluminum wiring in your home, some common warning signs that you have problems are the following:
- Your lights flicker for no apparent reason
- There is discoloration or burn marks on receptacles
- Your electrical breaker trips easily
- The face or plate of your switches or plugs becomes noticeably warm
- When you go to plug things in you notice an electrical arc at the plug
What to do If there is a Problem
If you notice that there is some sort of problem with your wiring, please consult a professional electricians advice. They will be able to inspect your electrical system and advise you on what needs to happen.
The possibility of creating a fire unknowingly is real, as aluminum needs to maintained properly. If you do a major renovation on your home, it is recommended to remove it all so that you do not have this liability in your home. Also being 50 to 60 years old, it means that wire may be becoming brittle and that is what may contribute to a fire.
If you live in the Cochrane, Calgary and surrounding area, please feel free to give Firestorm Electric a call. With our years of experience and knowhow, we will help you with your aluminum wiring and any other electrical needs! If you want to learn about our aluminum wiring services click here. Contact us today at 587-434-8939.