Robert J. Laderoute, Master Electrician
Aluminum Wiring Hazard
Aluminum wiring was commonly used throughout North America between the mid-1960s and late-1970s. It has been estimated that more than 450,000 homes in Canada are still wired with aluminum. If your home was built during this period, it most likely contains Aluminum wiring.
Aluminum wiring oxidizes easily, increasing resistance that leads to overheating at the receptacle. Aluminum is also softer than copper, so it is easily nicked and can become misshapen resulting in wires disconnecting from terminals. Increased resistance and improper connections cause loose connections and electrical arcing that leads to brunt plugs & wire connectors that can cause a fire as seen in this video.
Studies by insurance companies have shown that homes with aluminum wiring are 55 times more likely to have fire hazard conditions than dwellings with copper wiring. As a result, many insurance companies won’t insure or renew policies on structures with aluminum wiring until the installation has been corrected with copper pigtailing by a certified electrician.
Fortunately, there is an approved solution that does not require rewiring the entire home. Since the hazard of aluminum wiring typically occurs at terminal connections, copper wire can be “pigtailed” to the ends of the aluminum wiring. This ensures that the wiring will remain secure at the critical junction of receptacles and fixtures, thus eliminating overheating and arcing.
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