Everything You Need To Know About Aluminum Wiring (2023 Guide)

If you own a home, then you also need to ensure that all the safety features in your home are working perfectly. Regular inspections and maintenance can help you identify and fix potential hazards in a timely manner. By staying proactive, you can reduce the likelihood of accidents and damage to your property. Thus, keeping this in mind, you will need reliable safety controls in your home for protection from unintentional losses.

A major part of this involves checking your electrical wiring at home. In particular, it is preferable to know whether your home has aluminum wiring and whether it is safe. This guide will tell you what aluminum wiring is and what challenges you can face. Moreover, there will be justification for why you hire residential electrical contractors if you are facing problems with the wiring. Let’s start with the basics.

What Is Aluminum Wiring?

Aluminum wiring is an electrical wiring system that uses aluminum conductors instead of copper conductors. In the 1960s and 1970s, residential and commercial buildings commonly used aluminum wiring as a cheaper alternative to copper wiring. However, aluminum wiring has some safety issues due to its tendency to expand and contract with temperature changes, which can cause loose connections and potentially lead to electrical fires. Therefore, a qualified electrician should inspect aluminum wiring and potentially replace it with copper wiring to ensure safety.

Why It Is Not The First Choice Of The Homeowners?

Aluminum is not dangerous; however, everything that runs because of it becomes very dangerous. Expansion and galvanic corrosion are the main hazards associated with aluminum wiring. Other factors, such as loose connections, can cause power outages and electrical fires. Let us look at them in brief.

Low Ductility

It is the ability of the material to bend or deform without breaking. This means you can bend aluminum more easily than copper, making wires prone to breaking and bending. When wires break down, they either increase their resistance to the current or cause overheating.

Prone To Galvanic Corrosion

It occurs when some metals come into contact with others and when electrolytes like salt and water are present. This makes aluminum corrode more easily, which may cause it to break down sooner than copper wires. Therefore, employing some of the best electrical contractors in Calgary is now advisable to help you with wire replacement.

High Electrical Resistance

Aluminum does not conduct electricity as well as you may have known that copper does. Since it has high resistance, that reduces its ability to carry current. Thus, you will need a larger amperage—a thicker wire—to carry the same amount of current, which can be done with copper. Moreover, the wire will also take up more space while being laid on your property.

High Thermal Expansions And Contractions

Aluminum wiring tends to expand and contract more than copper wiring with changes in temperature. This can lead to loosened connections, increasing fire risk and electrical hazards. Homeowners might not choose aluminum wiring due to the safety concerns associated with these thermal fluctuations. Thus, they can result in costly repairs and a potential danger to the household.

Prone To Oxidation

Aluminum wiring is more susceptible to oxidation than copper wiring. Over time, aluminum oxide can form on the wire’s surface, increasing electrical resistance and potentially leading to overheating. This can also cause poor connections, flickering lights, or intermittent power outages. Homeowners may avoid it due to the increased maintenance required to mitigate oxidation risks and the potential for compromised electrical performance.

How To Identify That Your Home Electrical Systems Have Aluminum Wiring?

One of the first signs that your home is aluminum is that the electrical devices fail to perform well. Like flickering lights, the oven cannot heat the items properly, and you feel the warmth from the cover plates. You may have also seen scorch marks where the wires are tied together somewhere near the electrical panel. These electrical issues will be visible to the naked eye.

Moreover, you can open your electrical panel and check for markings on the wires. So, you can identify it with the following markings:

  • Unlike copper wiring, which possesses a yellow or golden hue, aluminum wiring displays a silver colour.
  • The manufacturers use wire jackets made of plastic and label them “aluminum” or with the initials “AL” for aluminum wiring.
  • They sometimes label the binding terminals for use with aluminum wiring as “CO/ALR” (which stands for “copper/aluminum revised”).

So, what do you do if you cannot identify the wire, whether aluminum or copper while doing electrical repairs? In that case, you need to contact an electrical contractor in Calgary for electrical repair. They will have the expertise to provide quick electrical solutions to your problems.

What To Do With The Aluminum Wirings At Your Home?

There are different ways to deal with aluminum wiring in your home, but it’s unsafe to try fixing electrical wiring yourself. Doing it yourself can cause more problems and be dangerous. It’s better to get help from aluminum wiring electricians in Calgary who have experience dealing with aluminum wiring. Let us look at some ways they can help with your electrical needs.

Upgrading From Aluminum Wiring

To completely mitigate the hazards associated with aluminum wiring, it is advisable to replace it with a more reliable alternative, such as copper. Some home insurance providers might even mandate the replacement of aluminum wiring in your residence before offering coverage. Thus, you can get the help of experienced residential electrical contractors with the expertise to replace the wires quickly and efficiently.

Joining Aluminum And Copper Wires

In certain situations, well-maintained aluminum wiring can be safely connected to more recent copper wiring through a technique known as “pigtailing.” This entails attaching the copper wire to the termination point (such as a switch or device) and then utilizing specially-designed aluminum twist-on connectors and deoxidizing agents to link it with the aluminum.

Although CO/ALR connectors are occasionally employed to connect aluminum and copper wires. Moreover, these should not be regarded as comprehensive solutions for aluminum wiring issues, as they are unsuitable for many aspects of a home’s electrical system.

Wrapping Up

Aluminum wiring can pose a significant risk to the safety and functionality of your residential electrical service. Homeowners should consider hiring a certified master or residential electrician to inspect and perform necessary electrical work. It’s important to have regular maintenance and inspections of electrical panels to ensure the safety of your home.

If your home has aluminum wiring, upgrading to copper wiring may be the safest option. Residential electrical contractors in Calgary have the experience and knowledge to provide advice and make the necessary upgrades to keep your home and family safe. Don’t hesitate to contact a professional, like Ampt Over Electric, for any electrical work needed to maintain a safe and functional home. Knowing that a team of skilled professionals will complete your job to the highest quality, you can have peace of mind.

CTV News reported on the link between aluminum electrical wire in homes and fires, emphasizing the need to check fixtures and use rated components to prevent issues with home wiring.. Read More about CTV News for aluminum wiring…

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Authors

Corey Hayes

Corey Hayes is a seasoned marketing professional with two decades of experience in small business marketing, dedicating 15 years of his illustrious career to elevating Ampt Over Electric's brand. His expertise and visionary approach have been pivotal in shaping the company's market presence and success.

Jorden McCullough,

Master Electrician, CEO of Ampt Over Electric.
Jorden, is a highly skilled Red Seal Master Electrician, with over 20 years of experience serving Calgary’s communities in a commercial and residential electrical capacity. AMPT Over Electric was established in Alberta in 2009 and proudly serves Calgary and surrounding areas. Our goal is, and has always been, to build relationships in business on integrity and respect. Our commitment to our community is to provide safe, high-quality electrical service. In order to guarantee that, we only employ competent Calgary electricians who share the same passion that we do.

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