From the 50’s to the 70’s the use of aluminum wiring was very common throughout the country. Since the price of copper- which was mainly used to wire homes at that time – had significantly increased using aluminum had become the next best alternative as it was cheaper and would help to reduce the cost of wiring a home.
Even though the use of aluminum significantly reduced cost and showed potential for increased conductivity it possessed several potential hazards that made it unsuitable for long term use. Since aluminum wiring is softer than copper it poses a much higher risk of being damaged, cut or broken. It also tends to rust disrupting the flow of electricity which can eventually cause several other issues.
Aluminum Wiring in the US
In the United States the use of aluminum wiring dates back over a century and due to its lightweight and conductive properties was used in the installation of most utility systems at that time. These cost effective lightweight conductors gave utility companies the opportunity to run transmission lines with half the amount of supporting structures required if using copper.
Prior to 1972, aluminum wire was manufactured to conform to 1350 series alloy however, as a result of its mechanical properties the 1350 alloys were considered unsuitable for use in branch circuitry. This was definitely a turning point for aluminum wiring where a more advanced series was introduced referred to as the AA-8000 series. Once installed correctly this type of wiring is considered to be equally as safe as copper wiring and is currently the aluminum wire used today.
With that said there are quite a number of improvements or upgrades accessible today that are available for homeowners who own or just purchased homes that carry aluminum wiring systems installed around the pre-1974 period. Some of the improvements or upgrades include:
- Purchasing devices rated for use with aluminum wire.
- Pigtailing – this term involves the technique of splicing a short length of copper to the original aluminum wire for use with devices not CO/ALR rated
- Installation of a COPALUM system. This is a sophisticated crimping system that creates a cold weld between copper and aluminum wire. This is regarded as a maintenance free solution.
- Get the entire wiring system changed to a copper wiring system .
Surely nothing lasts forever and homes that are forty years or older are the ones more likely to have crumbling insulation or faulty systems. If you believe that your wiring is outdated or faulty you should not hesitate to contact us and let us help you rectify any issues before they cause any major problems. Safeguard your homes and families against potential hazards and if necessary upgrade your wiring in compliance with Electrical Codes and Standards.