The Dangers of Aluminum Wiring

Nov 24, 2015 | Buying a Home, Electrical Safety, Residential Electricity

A common concern for those involved in home renovations or purchasing a new home is, “What is the state of the electrical system in the walls”. Some homes may not have had construction or renovations done since the original – this means the original wiring is still in place. Having original wiring in place can be concerning, especially if it is aluminum wiring. This type of wiring is commonly found in older homes and can be very dangerous. Read on to find out what you need to know about aluminum wiring and the dangers associated with it.

Why Aluminum?

In the 1950’s to 1970’s, many homes were being outfitted with aluminum wiring. The reason for this was because the prices of copper (material normally used for electrical wires) had increased and the use of aluminum would undercut the high costs. Aluminum is also much more conductive than copper and was used in larger industrial/commercial electrical lines like power grids and airplanes.

The Hazards

Despite the reduced cost and increased conductivity, aluminum wiring has many potential issues. Aluminum wiring is much softer than standard copper wiring. This means that it is vulnerable to being broken, cut, and damaged which can leave live electrical wires exposed. Another issue is that when aluminum rusts, it is not as conductive as copper. Copper that rusts can remain conductive and continue its flow of power. However with aluminum wiring, rust in wiring will impede the flow of electricity and can cause a number of other issues. Aluminum also expands and contracts when it becomes hot. This constant flux in size will result in the wires loosening themselves and connections become loose. For all of the above listed reasons, aluminum is prone to overheating and electrical fires.

Warning Signs

If you are unsure if there is aluminum wiring in your home, we have listed a number of warning signs that can indicate a hidden problem

  • Light flicker without reason or apparent cause
  • Light switches and electrical outlets become warm and discoloured
  • Smoke or sparks occur when connecting electrical devices to the home
  • Constantly tripping breakers or fuses
  • Static occurs in electronic equipment like radios, televisions, and computers.

While these problems may seem annoying at first, if left unattended they can result in serious damage to your home.

If you are experiencing some of these problems in your home contact your local Expert Electric and we can schedule one of our licenced electricians to visit your home and inspect for aluminum wiring. While the cost of upgrading the wiring in your home is not welcomed, it is much cheaper than the damage that can occur from an electrical fire. Contact us today at 604-681-8338.