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Aluminium Wiring

WHILE EXTREME CARE HAS BEEN IMPLEMENTED IN THE PREPARATION OF THIS SELF-HELP DOCUMENT, THE AUTHOR AND/OR PROVIDERS OF THIS DOCUMENT ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ERRORS OR OMISSIONS, NOR IS ANY LIABILITY ASSUMED FROM THE USE OF THE INFORMATION, CONTAINED IN THIS DOCUMENT, BY THE AUTHOR and / OR PROVIDER.

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Aluminium wiring came on the scene in the mid sixties  (1960's) and into the seventies (1970's) which in part was due to rising copper prices.  Compatibility issues became apparent with such items as outlets.

Aluminium has different expansion properties than copper when current runs through it, it requires a slightly thicker wire for the same current handling than copper does.

Metals that are in an oxygen atmosphere oxidize. Aluminium when it oxidizes creates resistance, where copper that oxidizes forms a conductor; increased resistance at the connections causes heat to build.

The  combination of the oxidizing characteristics of aluminium + the fact that aluminium has different expansion characteristics than copper + the fact that aluminium required a slightly thicker wire size to carry the same current as a copper wire all lead to some tragedies, and numerous house fires back in the sixties and seventies and continues on today if not properly installed. All this also contributed to connections such as on outlets becoming loose which also added to the chance of arcing and heat build up that resulted in numerous cases fires.

The rise in insurance claims with homes that was wired with aluminium wiring made the insurance industry nervous to the point that some where refusing to insure homes wired with aluminium while others raised rates because of the higher risk of claims.

As the years went by and the tragedies rose the industry did solve the issues with Aluminium wiring,  They figured out among other things that they could not use the same type of connections that was previously used with copper. You also had to use a 12 gage wire to carry the load a 14 gage was able to with a copper wire. They came up with an anti oxidizing paste to reduce the rate of oxidization with aluminium wire. It is too bad we all had to learn that the hard way.

Considering the past history with Aluminium wiring I personally would want copper wiring in the home although aluminium wiring is still in use in many parts of the world.

Much has been learn about using Aluminium wiring since the sixties and seventies and the industry has learned how to make it safe.

Now what to do with the wiring installed in the 70's that had inadequately compatible devices and connections is the question and is it safe.

A lot of experts in the field have the opinion that NO aluminium wiring is safe if installed in the 70's. However this aluminium wiring if 12 awg or larger can be made safe without rewiring your home, and this wiring may be made safe by you as minor repair that should be able to be done in a couple of weekends  if you just knew what to do.

If you wish to rewire your home in copper that is fine if you have the money and time to do so. Most people don't and will not have the money to do such a project.

If you wish to use your aluminium wiring that was installed in the 70's and want to make it safe to use then read the following (will open in a new tab / window).

http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/home-wiring-usa/short-articles/aluminum-wiring-2002.php

If you feel you would like an expert to evaluate the aluminium wiring in your home make sure you get an electrician that has experience in aluminium wiring.

Written: Jan 15, 2012
Revised: June 18, 2013
Proof Read / Released: July 9, 2013
By: Donald Kerr

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