The Importance of Aluminum Wiring Repair

When the United States went through a housing boom in the 1960s, builders were tasked with finding alternatives to some common building materials in order to keep supply up with demand. One alternative material that became popular during this time was aluminum wiring – largely due to the increased cost of the more conventional copper wiring. But aluminum wiring proved challenging. While a good conductor of electricity, it became problematic around the connections, causing wiring to overheat and lead to more electrical fires.

While aluminum wiring is no longer used in construction, it may still be found in homes built from the mid-1960 through the mid-70s. And while it’s not illegal, studies show that homes with aluminum wiring are 55 times more likely to pose a fire risk compared to properties with copper wiring. In this post, we’ll discuss just why aluminum wiring poses a fire threat, how to repair a home wired with aluminum, and more. Here’s a closer look:

Key Hazards of Aluminum Wiring

As we said in the introduction, aluminum wiring isn’t illegal – but you should be well aware of the hazards it could pose to your property. And the problem isn’t so much the aluminum wiring, but problems with the connections. Aluminum is proven to conduct electricity safely, but the connections tend to be much poorer in quality compared to copper wiring connections. Over time, this can cause wires to overheat and increase the risk of a fire.

Additionally, you may run into some issues getting a property that has aluminum wiring properly insured. Being that aluminum wiring can be considered a hazard or a defect, insurance policy language may be changed, policy premiums may be increased or you may not be able to get insured at all.

How do I Know if My Property Has Aluminum Wiring?

There are a few key ways you can determine if your property has aluminum wiring:

  • Was your home built in either the 1960s or 1970s? If so, then it could be in that decade-long sweet spot when copper prices were high and aluminum became the material of choice for electrical wiring.
  • Do you have a copy of your inspection report from when you purchased the property? Aluminum wiring is something that surely would have been identified in the inspection report when you initially bought the property.
  • Head up to your attic, down to your basement or crawlspace, or locate your electrical panel. Look for exposed wiring and see if you see the term “Aluminum” or some abbreviation of it on the insulating jacket.

In addition to this, some common signs of aluminum wiring include loose wires, a burning smell, or outlets that are hot to the touch. Flickering lights, sparking and discoloration on your light switch plates are some other signs to look for that could be indicative of an aluminum wiring-related electrical problem.

How to Repair Aluminum Wiring

The problem with aluminum isn’t the electrical wiring – but the connections. With that being said, the easiest, most convenient, and most affordable way to perform aluminum wiring repair is just to have the connections serviced. In doing so, an electrician will add a short piece of copper wire to the end of each aluminum wire at the connections. Essentially, this means that instead of an aluminum wire connecting to a switch or an outlet, a piece of copper wire will make the connection. This is a non-invasive repair method that will make your property safer and should help with any insurance discrepancy that may have occurred prior. This repair is also often referred to as a crimp connector repair.

Another way to repair aluminum wiring is to have your entire property re-wired. However, this is expensive and invasive and will involve cutting into drywall and ceilings, followed by a significant amount of patching and repainting. This is the most effective method, albeit often impractical.

Contact Tidal Electrical Services Today

If your property has aluminum wiring, it’s best to have it properly serviced and repaired as soon as possible. For more information on the hazards of aluminum wiring and to schedule your electrical inspection and repair, contact Tidal Electrical Services today.