Does Your Home Have Aluminum Wiring?
Mid-century construction has had a few distinct qualities that have definitely stayed in the ‘60s and ‘70s, like lava lamps, wood-paneled walls, and shag carpeting. However, some homeowners aren’t aware of—especially if they purchased a home built over four decades ago—because their home may have aluminum wiring, which was popular at the time.
It can be challenging to determine if your home has aluminum wiring since it hides behind your walls or ceiling tiles. However, it poses a real risk, especially when you’re using 21st-century technology with 20th-century electrical systems.
How Can You Tell If Your Home Has Aluminum Wiring?
If you updated your home’s fixtures, you might be confident that your electrical wiring is up to date. However, this isn’t always true, as Canadian home builders used aluminum wiring from 1965 to 1976 due to the rising price of copper. It’s best to have an electrician check your home to give you peace of mind and confirm your electrical system.
What’s Wrong With Aluminum Wiring?
Aluminum wiring is in the National Building Code of Canada, which means you don’t have to replace it unless or until you renovate the house. However, it increases your home’s risk for fire, so it’s best to have an electrical contractor replace it right away. A few signs that indicate problems with your aluminum wiring are flickering lights, warm cover plates, and burned insulation.
Additionally, if your home was built before 1965, you may have another problem. Your home may have both aluminum and copper wiring, which can lead to electrical arcing, which is a flash of electricity that leaps from one wire to another. Electrical arcing reaches temperatures at almost 19,500 degrees Celsius. This happens because aluminum expands and contracts more than copper does, resulting in a loose connection. An electrical arc can burn the insulation surrounding the wiring and eat away at your home’s insulation, walls, and wood framing.
How Are Aluminum and Copper Wiring Different?
Aluminum wiring is far more likely to start a fire than copper. This is because aluminum is softer than copper, which means it is more likely to incur damage during installation and break under pressure. It also doesn’t conduct electricity as efficiently as copper does, leading the wiring to loosen and overheat. Additionally, if exposed to moisture, aluminum will corrode. That leads to removing aluminum from the wire, making it thinner and causing it to produce more heat.
How Do You Protect Yourself?
If you suspect that you have aluminum wiring in your home, have a certified electrical contractor in London, Ontario, conduct a full inspection of your home. Additionally, have them check the heavily used circuits in your home every year to ensure everything is in proper working order. When you know what kind of wiring you have and the condition it’s in, you can decide on installing more safety measures. Aluminum wiring can be safe with the right connections and terminations, but you’ll want to consult an electrician just in case.
If you need to make electrical improvements to your hope, like replacing a light switch, don’t attempt to do it yourself. Call an electrician to do it instead, as you may end up damaging aluminum conductors. Aluminum wiring comes with many risks, and many insurers won’t insure your home unless you have thoroughly inspected your wiring and address any deficiencies.
Aluminum wiring can conduct electricity safely, but due to its copper connections that can corrode or become loose over time, it can pose some safety risks. Luckily, you can remedy the situation by hiring an electrical contractor to study your electrical wiring and carry out the recommended repairs and installations.
If you need someone to look at your electrical wiring, let us know at DHT Electrical, Inc. We specialize in electrical installation services and repairs in Ontario, serving residential and commercial clients. With our on-call service, we’ll be there right when you need us. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you!