Lewis Electric of Oxford, Inc

Oxford, North Carolina


Providing the following servies:

Does your home have aluminum wiring??

Between the years of 1965 and 1973, the dangers of aluminum wiring were not known. This is why the material was allowed to be used in the first place. But since then, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that aluminium wire has been the cause of fires that have resulted in severe injury and death. Throughout the years, problems have been identified that occur more frequently with aluminum wires than copper wire.

Of course the hazards were not found until after aluminum wiring had been installed in homes for a number of years. It was a sturdy and affordable electrical solution at the time, but a short 8 year period showed an increase in house fires due to faulty wiring and this resulted in the wire not being used in home construction and rewiring tasks. Nevertheless, homeowners were not having their homes rewired with copper wiring due to the aluminium wire hazard, especially since doing so could be very expensive. That is why so many homes today that were built during the affected time period still have aluminum wiring installed. The fire risk increases as the wire ages.

Known Problems with aluminum wiring
Arching and micro-fretting at the connectors along the aluminum wiring system have been the causes of fires. This is because this arching and micro-fretting causes the connection between light switches and outlets to overheat. Overheating has also been detected at wire splices. What is alarming is that an individual would expect their circuit breaker to trip if an overheating event occurred, but this does not always happen. The wire can become very hot without the circuit breaker being made aware that there is a problem. If the circuit breaker does not trip, then the wire can continue to heat up to the point it catches on fire.

There are times in which the circuit breaker does trip, but not before an outlet catches on fire or a section of wire is destroyed within a wall in the home. There are occasions when the home’s occupants are lucky enough for the fire to extinguish itself before it reaches insulation or other flammables within its vicinity. There are many occupants, however, that are not so lucky. They have either lost everything they own or their lives.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has found that those homes built prior to 1972 are over 50% more likely to have multiple connectors become fire hazards. While it was realized that there was a problem by 1972, even the aluminum wire used after 1972 into 1973 is still a concern. Aluminum wire alloys were introduced in 1972 to correct the fire hazard issue, but a significant number of connection failure problems have still been identified.

Aluminum Wiring Today
Although the dangers of aluminum wiring were identified and not used in most major applications after 1973, there are still certain instances in which it is used today. It is mostly used in situations where a single purpose circuit is needed. This includes electrical range circuits and 240V air conditioning units. Both of these are single purpose and are not nearly as hazardous as situations that require branch circuits. Since the fire hazards are mainly due to connection failure, a single purpose situation only warrants 4 to 6 connections as opposed to up to 40, which reduces fire risk. Field reports, however, have indicted that the connections still have the ability to burn up.

Reducing the Dangers of aluminum wiring
There are a number of practices being used to greatly reduce the dangers of aluminum wiring. Aside from having a home or building completely rewired, a practice called “pigtailing” is used. This is more or less a process that involves replacing the connectors throughout the entire electrical wiring system. Short copper wires are connected to each and every wire end. While this can be a lengthy process and one that involves accessing every connector within the walls of the home or building, it is not a complete rewiring. It is more or less a process that is used to prevent the original connectors from overheating and causing a fire.

If when looking at your circuit breaker or any exposed wires in your home and you see silver wiring rather than copper, you know you have aluminum. Panels in your home, as well as print on the wire covers themselves, may also state that aluminum wiring was used. Once this discovery is made, it is best to contact an electrician to have the connectors replaced. This will help reduce the risk that the structure will succumb to fire due to faulty wiring.