Many people don’t give much thought to the constant electrical currents running through their house. The wiring throughout your home is what makes modern life possible. But everyday life used to look very different, all of the way down to the wiring used in homes.
Copper is used in the wiring for nearly all new homes built today, but for a spell from 1965 until the mid-70s, aluminum wiring was a common home fixture.
Now, people are being advised to avoid buying aluminum wiring homes and rewire their homes with copper if aluminum was used. This change is due to the fact that aluminum wiring has been found to be a significant fire risk.
But don’t fret; GB Electric Services can inspect your electrical system and rewire every foot of your Mint Hill home, if need be, to ensure your family’s safety.
Why was Aluminum Wiring Used?
Aluminum wiring was used in a lot of homes between 1965 and 1972 due to the prices of copper, and therefore copper wiring, skyrocketing. Mint Hill, NC, was not immune to the rising costs and turned to aluminum like everyone else. Meaning there is a chance there could be aluminum wiring in your home.
Aluminum seemed like a good alternative to copper at the time because it was cheap, abundant, and had similar conductive properties to copper. It was not immediately obvious that the aluminum wire used was inferior to copper wire, but as the houses and wiring age, the problems have become clearer.
Why Is Aluminum Wiring Dangerous?
Aluminum wiring in your home can be dangerous because it is prone to coming loose at the connections, overheating, causing electrical damage, and possibly even fires. Overheating and other issues in aluminum wiring have a number of different root causes, including:
Aluminum is not as ductile as copper, meaning it cannot withstand being stretched, bent, and manipulated in the same ways. Aluminum wiring, over time, degrades internally. This degradation causes the wiring to resist more electricity, decreasing the wiring’s efficiency and causing excessive heat to build up.
At the same time, aluminum is very malleable and sensitive, meaning it can be bent and shaped easily with no physical resistance. Unfortunately, this isn’t as great as it sounds. Aluminum wiring should be used with screw connections, but it is vulnerable to deforming and coming loose under an over-tightened screw since it is so malleable.
All wires oxidize over time, but the oxidation on aluminum wiring, aluminum oxide, is a poor conductor of electricity. This poor conductivity means that as more oxidation builds up, the less effective the wires become and the higher the risk of overheating. On the other hand, when copper wiring oxidates, the oxidation can still conduct electricity.
Greater Thermal Expansion
Aluminum wiring expands more than copper wiring when exposed to heat. Over time, the continued expansion and contraction of the wiring causes its connections to degrade and come loose. Loose connections can be dangerous and lead to overheating, sparking, and even fire.
When electrical current flows through a copper wire, it vibrates slightly. But when an electrical current flows through an aluminum wire, the vibrations are stronger and can cause the connections to come loose over time.
Why is Copper Wiring Best?
Copper wiring is the first choice of electricians when wiring homes today since it is superior to aluminum wiring in just about every way. In addition to being safer all around, copper wire has distinct advantages, including its durability and better conductivity.
Copper is sturdier and stronger than aluminum. The metal does not lose its integrity when bent or shaped and can last for well over 20 years. It does not give way to over-tightened screws or easily overheat.
Copper has better conductivity than aluminum since it has less resistance to electrical currents. Additionally, its conductivity can stand the test of time and oxidation. Its performance is not affected by oxidation, unlike aluminum.
How to Know if Your House Has Aluminum Wiring
If your house was built between 1965 and 1972, but you don’t know if it has copper wiring, you can always check the wires in the electrical panel, or an area with visible wirings, like the attic.
Once you’ve located the wires, you can examine them to see what type of wire they are. Aluminum wiring should be labeled with one of three things.
If you see any of these labels on your wires, then you have at least some, if not all, aluminum wiring in your house. Sometimes you may have both copper and aluminum wiring, but this isn’t recommended as it can be tricky to keep track of the different wires.
If you don’t see any labels and still aren’t sure if your house has aluminum wiring, give GB Electrical Services a call. We are happy to come to any home in Mint Hill, NC, or the surrounding areas and perform an electrical inspection.
What to do if Your House has Aluminum Wiring
Just because your house has aluminum wiring does not mean you need to get your entire home rewired immediately. If the aluminum wiring was installed correctly, it is possible that it’s not an immediate fire risk.
But just because you haven’t had any problems with your aluminum wiring yet, doesn’t mean problems can’t arise in the future. There may not be an immediate need for action, but it’s important to get electrical inspections by licensed electricians done more often.
Regular electrical inspections are essential for any homeowner, and especially for homeowners with aluminum wiring. The assessment can catch signs of loose connections, overheating, or fraying wires before they cause major electrical issues.
Aluminum Wiring Repair
Barring any major issues, minor hiccups with your aluminum wire may be able to be fixed using copalum crimps. Copalum crimps attach a piece of copper wire to the aluminum wire branch circuit to patch a problematic area.
Obviously, whole home rewiring is more certain, permanent, and a better long-term investment, but it can be expensive. Crimps can serve as a temporary solution, but it is still recommended to eventually upgrade your wiring to copper.
If aluminum wiring is not immediately dangerous, you may be wondering if you should still rewire your house. And if so, why?
The short answer is yes. It’s always a good idea to be proactive and take steps to avoid future disasters. So even if your aluminum wiring has never had a problem or has only had one problem, you should rewire your home with copper when you can afford to do so.
Looking to upgrade some fixtures, outlets, or switches? Please keep in mind that modern and current electrical improvements are copper wiring only. When copper compatible fixtures are wired to aluminum wiring it creates a non compatible connection that leads to corrosion and loose wiring.
Also, when you go to sell your house, the aluminum wiring will probably make it a lot harder to sell and will impact your home’s value. For many potential buyers in Mint Hill, NC, aluminum wiring is a dealbreaker since they know it will need to be replaced in a few years.
Some home inspectors today will not even pass a house if it has aluminum wiring instead of copper. Rewiring your home now will save you time when you’re ready to move.
Additionally, since the houses with aluminum wiring were mostly built in the 60s, the wiring in these homes is older and at higher risk of mishaps anyway. As time goes on, the aluminum wires are almost like ticking time bombs. Many homes with aluminum wiring are pushing at least 50 years old, so they are due for a rewiring.
When to Call an Electrician
Issues with aluminum wiring will make themselves known. That is, when something goes wrong, you will notice it in your house. If you notice any of the following things, you should immediately give GB Electrical Services in Mint Hill, NC, a call, as these issues could all be signs of overheating and other electrical problems.
- Hot outlets
- Scorch marks on outlets
- A burnt smell coming from outlets
- Melting outlets
- Sparking outlets
- Constantly flickering lights
- Partial power outages
If you notice any of these things, do not try to investigate and troubleshoot by yourself. Licensed electricians are always your best go-to when it comes to any electrical uncertainties.
Home Rewiring Near Me
If you are in Mint Hill, NC, or surrounding areas, the experienced, professional electricians at GB Electrical Services can take care of all of your electrical needs. Call us today or fill out a contact form, tell us a little about what’s going on, and we’ll be out to look at your electrical system and give you our honest opinion.
At GB Electrical Services, our entire team is dedicated to our customers’ satisfaction and safety. We are available to contact 24/7 because we know life’s mishaps do not contain themselves to business hours.
Other companies may not take on a whole home rewiring, but no job is too big for us. Home rewiring can be a lengthy, time-consuming project, but when it comes to the safety of our customers, we are ready for any job. Call us to remove your aluminum wiring today!
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