The two most commonly found materials for the electrical wiring in homes are copper and aluminum. Copper is today’s electrical wiring of choice and became the main use for wiring after the mid-1970s, after homeowners and builders realized the hazards that came with aluminum wiring. Though it was initially used due to its cheap cost, it has many properties that make it inferior to the option of copper for wiring. Keep reading for tips on how to identify aluminum wiring in your home, and why it is considered dangerous.
An indicator that your home may have aluminum wiring is if it was built between the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. Although these were the main years that aluminum wiring was used, it does not mean that homes outside of this time bracket are exempt and did not possibly use aluminum wiring. There is potential that circuits were added, rewiring was done, or rooms were added even if your home was built before that period. It is likely that your realtor or developer can disclose this detail, yet it is easy to look over during the busy home purchasing process.
A simple way to see if you have aluminum wiring is by taking a look at your electrical panel, or checking the cables that run through your basement or attic. You can expect these cables to be labeled with an AL, ALUM or ALUMINUM, which indicates that it is aluminum wiring. If you are having trouble finding these cables, it is best to hire an electrician to complete an inspection in your home, as messing with electrical wiring components can be hazardous, if you are not a licensed electrician.
By examining your outlets and switches, you can also look for stripped wire ends. Simply removing the plate off of the switch or outlet will give you an adequate view of the wired ends. You can expect aluminum wiring to be a silver color, in comparison to copper or other metals which are a brighter, yellow color. When examining the wires, be sure not to touch them as it can be very harmful. Additionally, you can feel the temperature of the plates on your electrical outlets, as the overheating of aluminum can be felt through the walls. The outlet/switches should feel neutral or cool. If this area feels heated, it may be an indication of an electrical issue.
If you have discovered that your house has aluminum wiring, consider hiring a professional to inspect the safety of your current electrical system, and start thinking about the option of rewiring your home. Electrical malfunctions are a top cause of house fires, and aluminum wires tend to expand and heat up quickly as electricity flows. Aluminum is a weak and soft material in comparison to copper, therefore potential hotspots may arise in situations where wires are damaged or pinched.
It is crucial to keep your family, your home and yourself safe, so always consider hiring a licensed electrician for further inspection or rewiring. Ensure your electrician is properly trained, has insurance and is qualified. If you are looking for an electrician for the replacement of aluminum wiring in your home, Contact us today! Since 2003, our team of experts at AJ’s Electrical Service & Repair have been assisting customers throughout the Lower Mainland with their electrical needs.