If you own an older home, there’s a good chance it contains aluminum wiring. Decades ago, aluminum was the wiring material of choice due to rising supply costs and mounting economic strain. Both electricians and homeowners quickly realized, however, that aluminum wiring was not only inefficient but could also be downright dangerous. If you still have aluminum wiring in your home, the experts at Harrison Electric discuss why you should have it replaced as soon as possible.

Aluminum Is Outdated

Aluminum wiring was extremely popular from about the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s—that’s not to say it was ever safe, though. To cut costs during the Vietnam war, electricians installed aluminum wiring in millions of new homes due to the rising price of copper. Unfortunately, the drastic increase in the use of aluminum wiring also lead to a significant uptick in the number of residential fires per year.

As a metal, aluminum itself is not necessarily dangerous; the problem lies in the way aluminum connects to outlets, light switches, dimmers, and other electrical connection points. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find aluminum wiring in a newly constructed home, simply because it’s not the safest or most efficient choice. Rewiring a house with copper or silver wiring allows for improved conductivity and homeowner safety.

Old Wiring Is a Fire Hazard

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that homes containing aluminum wiring are 55 times more likely to exhibit “fire hazard conditions” than homes with copper or silver wiring. Aluminum wiring has an unfortunate tendency to overheat where it attaches to outlets, light switches, and other connection points. When the connection becomes too hot, it can create an electrical fire.

If you notice plastic wiring jackets bearing the letters, “AL,” you almost certainly have aluminum wiring in your house. A certified residential electrician can evaluate your existing wiring and inspect your electrical system to locate points in need of repair or replacement. 

Aluminum Deteriorates Faster Than Other Metals

If you’ve ever held an aluminum can or a piece of tin foil, you’ve probably noticed how malleable and soft the metal is. While that is great for flexibility, it’s not conducive to durability. When aluminum comes into contact with other metals, it is susceptible to corrosion, and when it’s exposed to air, oxidation may occur. Both corrosion and oxidation can seriously impact the structural integrity of the metal, potentially leading to a fire hazard.

Plus, when under pressure from tight screws and other fasteners, aluminum is highly susceptible to deformation. Over time, even with no additional tightening, the metal will continue to deform, potentially resulting in loose connections. And even though aluminum is highly malleable, bending and twisting can cause the metal to break down over time. If the internal wiring becomes damaged, current resistance increases, which can generate excessive heat.

Electrical Rewiring Specialists in the Twin Cities

If you believe your home still contains outdated aluminum wiring, for safety’s sake, it’s important that you replace it. At Harrison Electric, our electricians are highly skilled in replacing old, outdated wiring with industry-standard materials. Whether we’re just replacing electrical panel wiring or completely rewiring a house, you can trust our firm price quotes, written guarantees, prompt service, and extensive industry experience. To learn more about replacing outdated wiring or to schedule your service appointment, contact our friendly team at 763-544-3300, or you can send us a message on our contact page.