As responsible homeowners, we do our best to minimize the hazards within our home that could threaten the safety and wellbeing of our family members. We install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, eliminate fire hazards and ensure we meet safety standards to avoid potential damage to our homes and loved ones.
Many homeowners may be unaware of the dangers associated with something that lurks behind their walls – aluminum wiring. In this article, we review how this type of wiring works, how to check if you have aluminum wiring in your house, and how to update aluminum wiring.
What is Aluminum Wiring?
Aluminum wiring gained popularity in the 1960s and was considered an ideal alternative to high-priced copper wiring. The flaws associated with aluminum wiring and subsequent safety hazards it posed soon became evident, however.
One of the biggest problems with aluminum wiring is that its continued expansion over time exposes connections to air, which causes the connections to heat up and become fire hazards. Not only is aluminum wiring extremely unsafe, but many insurance companies refuse to provide coverage for homes built with aluminum wiring. The safest option for homeowners is to ensure they don’t have aluminum wiring behind their walls.
Here is how to identify aluminum wiring in your home: call a licensed electrician who will complete a thorough inspection of your wiring system. When the electrician inspects your electrical panel or exposed wires, the following markings will be evident on the outer covering if the wiring is aluminum:
- ALUMINUM ACM
- ALUM ACM
How Does Aluminum Wiring Work?
When it was introduced, aluminum wiring was considered an inexpensive and effective way to provide electricity to homes and buildings. It works in the same way that copper wiring does, but has several drawbacks.
Aluminum breaks down and oxidizes much quicker than copper does, leading to increased fire hazards. Furthermore, when electrical currents pass through aluminum, they cause excessive vibration. This vibration results in a greater likelihood that connections will break down and increase the risk of fire.
These concerns, along with several other drawbacks associated with using aluminum wiring, clearly confirm this type of wiring is a safety hazard and should not be present in homes.
When Should you Call an Electrician?
If your home was built in the 1960s or 1970s or you suspect it was wired using aluminum, you should contact a licensed electrician who can confirm whether the hazard exists in your home.
Other telltale warning signs may indicate your home has aluminum wiring. Hot outlets or faceplates, smoke or a burning smell near receptacles, flickering lights, or static on the television can be indicators of aluminum wiring and should be checked by an electrician.
What can you do to Maintain Aluminum Wiring?
Some homeowners may prefer to keep their aluminum wiring instead of having it replaced. The best and safest way to maintain aluminum wiring is to ensure it is inspected by an electrician regularly – every five years at a minimum. If there are any problems with the wiring, the electrician can detect and fix the problems before they pose a fire risk.
Is Aluminum Wiring Lurking Behind Your Walls?
If you are concerned that you might have aluminum wiring in your home, or if you would like to have your aluminum wiring replaced, the team at Redford Electric in New Westminster is here to help. Our experts will answer your questions and conduct a thorough assessment of your wiring.
A free assessment of your home’s wiring is the first step in ensuring the safety of your home and family. Get in touch with our team of experts at (778) 840-2594 or reach us online using our contact form.