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Charlotte Home Inspector Explains Aluminum Wiring

January 5th, 2012 · No Comments



Aluminum wiring is more prone to start a fire than copper wire due to some inherent properties in the metal.  In this discussion it is important to realize that we are talking about single strand aluminum wire used for 110/120 circuits as opposed to the multi-strand 220/240 aluminum wire.   The single strand wire was used from 1965 to 1974. 


One of the problems with the aluminum wire is that it has a higher resistance to electricity than copper does. This higher resistence cause heat to build up with obviously is a problem.  This problem is compounded by the fact that aluminum is more valuable than copper.  Sometimes when the wire is connected or screw is tightened down it changes the diameter of the wire.  Also the wire can expand or move on its on creating a loose connection which causes heat to build up.  Another problem with aluminum is that it is much more susceptible to oxidation and corrosion than is its copper counterpart.  It’s exposure to the elements has to be limited.


So now that you know the hazards associated with single strand aluminum wiring used in houses built between 1965 and 1974 what can be done to reduce some of the hazards?  Well the ultimate would be to rewire the house but the cost might not make that practical on a grand scale.   One way to reduce the risk is to add copalum crimped copper wires at the connections.  Amp Inc makes such a crimp.  Other solutions that aren’t universally approved include the use of anti oxidant paste at the connections, pig tailing to copper wires with a twist on connector, and or the removal of any combustible material at the connections.


Single strand aluminum wiring is more prone to overheat than copper wiring due to inherent properties in the metal.  Home inspectors like Home inspection Carolina look for aluminum wiring in houses they inspect that were built between 1965 and 1974.  If your house is identified as having aluminum wiring it is not a deal killer.  After all most housing periods have something if not another to look for.  It could be asbestos, polybutylene piping and even EFIS.  There are practical was to fix the aluminum wiring but Home inspection Carolina recommends that you consult an electrician first.


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