Is Aluminum Wiring Safe or a Fire Hazard In Your House?

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Aluminum wire

Buyers and owners want to know if aluminum wiring is safe or a fire hazard. Aluminum wire can be found in many older homes, even today contractors use aluminum wire in homes but it is usually stranded and on higher amperage circuits. The main type of wire going from the electric company power pole to a house is aluminum, not copper.

The electrical wiring running through most houses built today is copper.  However, there are some conditions in older homes which used solid aluminum wire on 15 and 20 amp electrical circuits that can be a fire safety concern under certain conditions. These conditions may occur if the quality of the wire used is poor, if dis-similar metals are connected (i.e. aluminum and copper); if the switches, outlets or connectors are improper or not approved for aluminum wire.

Currently we still use aluminum wire when…

Today we often use aluminum wiring on higher amp appliances like air-conditioner circuits. In these cases it is generally stranded not solid aluminum wire that is used.

Historically

Historical there have been a large number of homes in the United States and other countries wired with aluminum wiring prior to 1972. After WW II, many builders beginning using aluminum wiring. In general this practice continued up to around 1972. In the sixties there has been evidence that aluminum wire may have contributed to some house fires.

The quality of the wire used in the past varied from poor to good. Since aluminum wire is softer than copper and that it oxidizes at times, there were some homes that experienced problems with the wiring and the connections.

Consulting an electrician

Experienced electricians have several methods of correcting aluminum wiring issues. At times they may change the outlets, switches, and breakers, depending on the type. They may use special splices and pig tails in places and possibly replace wiring at times.

Neutral and ground bar

Who to consult? An electrician.

Consulting an electrician is wise. They may find the wiring safe and acceptable, or they may recommend some modifications.

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