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Scherer Electric Blog

Aluminum Wiring in Your Home: What You Should Know

The demands placed on residential electrical systems are higher than they were only ten years ago, and significantly higher than thirty years ago. With more appliances and charging stations than ever before plugged into a house’s electrical system, it makes sense to upgrade older wiring. Our Buffalo, NY electricians handle electrical wiring and rewiring for homes. Whatever amount of new wiring you may need for your older house, we can take care of the job. We also make upgrades to outlets and electrical panels.

In this post, we’re going to address a specific rewiring concern, which is aluminum wiring found in many older homes. Is aluminum wiring dangerous and does it need to be replaced?

The Aluminum Age

The standard metal used in residential wiring is copper, which is highly conductive and effective. But in the mid-‘60s the price of copper rose, and electricians looked for an alternative. They picked aluminum as a replacement. Aluminum is also a highly conductive metal (it’s why you see it used in baking and cooking), although not as effective a conductor as copper. The installers who put aluminum wires in homes made up for the difference by making these wires larger than copper wires: 12 gauge for aluminum and 14 gauge for copper. (In wiring measurements, the smaller gauge number is the larger wire.)

The Copper Age Returns

Problems with aluminum wiring started to emerge soon after the changeover. The wires were often overheating, lights in homes flickered, and insulation burned along the wires. When electricians investigate these issues, they found the problem was at connection points, often behind outlets and light switches. Because aluminum wiring expands more when it heats up, it was causing “wire creep”: the wires coming loose from under terminal screws. The corrosion that formed along aluminum was also a barrier toward electrical flow. By 1972, the allow of aluminum wiring was changed to reduce these problems. Copper prices had fallen as well, and copper wires returned as the most popular metal for residential electrical systems.

Do You Need Rewiring for Aluminum?

This is the big question we’ve build up to. If you live in a house built between 1965 and 1972, or which had extensive electrical work done during that time, you probably have aluminum wiring somewhere. Do you need to schedule a whole-house rewiring as soon as possible?

Not necessarily—although we strongly recommend calling our electricians to examine the electrical system. As long as there aren’t problems at connections, aluminum wiring is as safe as copper wiring. An electrical inspection checks on all the connections to find where there may be concerns. Rather than remove the aluminum wires, the electricians can install special connectors that remove the potential danger of the wires.

If you have any concerns about your household electrical system or you have noticed flickering lights and warm light switches, arrange with our electricians for an electrical audit. We’ll find out what changes need to be done and if your household will benefit from rewiring. Leave the work to us—we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Scherer Electric is Western New York’s Favorite Electrician. Schedule rewiring service with our professionals today.

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