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16Feb2014

Aluminum Wire: Its your House Safe?

aluminum wired receptacleIf your house was built from 1965 to 1973 chances are it has aluminum wiring. If that is the case, you need to act right away to make sure your house is safe, any work perform in an aluminum wired house must be done by a licensed electrician with previews experience correcting problem involving aluminum wired houses.

They start using aluminum wires in houses because the high use of copper by the US military throughout the Vietnam War. Copper wire become very difficult to find and also very expensive. Aluminum then seemed to be the right substitute for residential wiring, it was abundant and cheap, at that moment no body predicted the likely danger it posed to American families.

Aluminum is a softer metal that copper that contracts and expands at a bigger scale when heated and is more vulnerable to oxidation, this oxidation become a thin layer on its own surface. When aluminum wires are only twisted together as you would do with copper wires, the wires expand and contract, current flows through them producing heat due to poor connection and if the aluminum wires has oxidized, this will heat up the connection even further, creating a potential for wire overheating and in the worst of the cases a possible fire.

If you house has aluminum wires, make sure you has it evaluated by a licensed electrician, desirable one that is familiar with aluminum, more likely he will suggest you one of the following options:

1. Rewire the whole house with copper wiring. This is definitely the best option and also the most expensive one, but if you are planning to live for a long time in your house, go for it.

2. Replacing existing switches and receptacles with special aluminum rated switches and aluminum rated receptacles. For your lights you can use aluminum rated purple wire nuts to make connections just be ready to expend around US$3.00 for each one, this wire nuts hold antioxidant inside their body that protects the aluminum from oxidation.

3. Hire an electrician certified to work with a method called Copalum, which use a special connector and a high pressure crimping tool to make a final connection. This method is very expensive but if you can find a verified electrician do it, they will charge from US$10.00 to US$15.00 per connection.

My final advice is please make sure you hire a licensed electrician to deal with aluminum wires, they most likely will do it right.

These are some of the most dummy fixes I found related to aluminum wires:

  • Cooper rated receptacles used with aluminum wires: They
  • Taps made using cooper rated red wire nuts
  • Aluminum wire connections using red wire nuts joints inside the walls without using a junction box, this one took me almost 3 hours to find.
  • Cooper rated receptacles and GFCIs used with.

We at Montes Electric, Inc. your  Electrician in Charlotte  have the knowledge and experience to make your house a safer place to live.

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