If your home was built in earlier than the 1970s and you’ve never upgraded your electrical system, chances are you have aluminum wiring. Even if your home was not built in that era, DIY wiring jobs using aluminum wire could be lurking in your walls and this could pose a danger to your home and family.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, “homes built before 1972, and wired with aluminum are 55 times more likely to have one or more wire connections at outlets reach “Fire Hazard Conditions” than homes wired with copper.” If you suspect you have aluminum wiring you should contact a certified electrician to inspect and replace it for you.
What makes aluminum wiring so dangerous?
Aluminum wire connections can cause increased resistance to the flow of electrical current that can result in overheating, sometimes at hazardous levels, when the current is flowing through the circuit. The more resistance there is, the hotter the wire becomes. This can cause the receptacle cover plate mounting screws to reach dangerously high temperatures, emit sparks from the receptacle and/or char materials around the connection.
There are not really any noticeable warning signs that your aluminum wire is causing potential hazards until, unfortunately, it’s too late and an accident occurs. Your connections and splices can fail and overheat without any prior indication of problems. If you notice face plates on your receptacles and light switches are feeling hot, lights are flickering, the smell of burning plastic or faulty circuits – you could have an electrical issue.
If you do see signs of a problem, do not attempt to fix it yourself. This is extremely dangerous and a professional electrical contractor should be contacted.
How to know if you have aluminum wiring?
If your home was built in the 1960s to early 1970s in Canada or the United States, it’s very possible you have aluminum wiring. Your cables with aluminum conductors will have a plastic insulation sheath over it and it should actually say “aluminum” or “Al” right on it. Check any exposed wiring in your basement, attic or garage for that casing. Learn three ways to identify aluminum wiring.
If you’re still unable to identify your wiring you should contact a professional electrician to come and check it out. If you find you DO have aluminum wiring you’ll have to get it permanently repaired in order to eliminate the risks of fire hazards in your home.
Fixing the problem
Fortunately, aluminum wiring can be replaced by copper wire or repaired. Hiring a qualified electrician to do this job will reduce the possibility of fire due to overheating wire connections and is a much safer option over trying to do it yourself. We recommend calling in professional electricians in Edmonton to handle this job for you.
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