Aluminum was commonly used in electrical systems during the 1960s and 1970s. Due to the fact that aluminum wiring poses an extreme fire danger, we now exclusively use copper wiring. However, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 2,000,000 electrical systems still consist of aluminum wiring.
Why Is Aluminum Wiring Unsafe?
Aluminum wiring is dangerous because it has been found to shrink and expand at connection points such as outlets, switches or circuit breakers. This shrinking and expanding can lead to shock, and poses a fire hazard, as the constant movement of the wire causes overheating, shocks, and even fire.
Aluminum Wiring Poses a “Serious Potential Fire Hazard”
According to the CPSC, homes wired with aluminum wiring are 40 to 50 times more likely to have fire problems than homes that are wired with copper.
In a quote from Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the CPSC:
This is an area we feel very strongly about. Aluminum wiring in a house presents a very serious potential fire hazard. We feel that there are a significant number of homeowners who have aluminum wiring and who haven’t yet taken steps to make their homes safe.
Whole House Rewiring May Not Be Necessary
In many cases, there is a simple and fairly inexpensive method of making homes with aluminum wiring safe. Rather than running new copper wiring throughout the entire home, copper connection points are added to the ends of the existing wiring at any place where they make a connection.
Keep in mind that aluminum work is a very specialized type of electrical work and that any retrofits should only be performed by electricians who have been trained in retrofitting aluminum to copper.
What do I do next?
If you live in a home that was built or renovated between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s, you may want to have one of our electricians inspect your wiring to ensure that it is safe. It will be our pleasure to help you uncover any possible safety problems.