Aluminum wiring is fast becoming one of London’s biggest residential electrical issues and we have spent a great deal of time researching the various options available to homeowners and have the best solutions to make your home’s electrical system safer.
AT A GLANCE:
Aluminum wiring was outlawed in Canada in the late 1970s, because it expands and contracts more than copper wire, which leads to loose connections, arcing, melting and ultimately fire. Also, aluminum wire corrodes much more easily than copper wire, which causes the breakdown of the wire, particularly at its points of connection.
Even though it only was used between roughly 1965 and 1980, there are easily over 15,000 homes in the London region with aluminum wiring. This means that 15% of the houses in London are 55 times more likely to have fire hazard conditions present.
It’s no surprise insurance companies are increasing premiums or outright denying coverage to people who have houses wired with aluminum and it’s also no surprise that many new home buyers avoid these houses altogether. Is it really that bad? Unfortunately, it can be a very serious fire hazard in the home:
Since many insurance companies are requiring inspections and repairs before providing insurance to new homeowners we are often asked if we can write clients a letter indicating their aluminum wiring is safe.
As you can probably guess from the previous example there are no guarantees with the safety of aluminum wiring as its condition can change rapidly. As a result, we will not provide insurance letters indicating that this wiring is safe.
However if you read below you may find a solution that not only meets your insurer’s requirements but also makes your home’s electrical system safer.
Although over 90% of your wiring is concealed behind the walls there are a few danger signs you should look out for:
Unfortunately, problems with aluminum wiring can sneak-up on you very quickly. Therefore, a house that seems safe today may not necessarily be safe tomorrow.
3 Solutions to
A common, but out-dated and dangerous aluminum wiring repair is the use of pig-tailing connections. Studies have shown how dangerous this repair is and yet many electricians in our area continue to suggest this as a good, cost-effective solution.
Pig-tailing is essentially the connecting of new copper wire to the existing aluminum wire. In these cases the copper wire is connected to receptacles and switches with pig-tails connecting the copper wire to the original aluminum wire. The idea here is that you will avoid the disparity between the expansion and contraction of the aluminum wire and the device. Also, the idea is that you’re less likely to experience corrosion at the device given that both the screw on the receptacle or switch and the wire itself are both copper.
Unfortunately, this repair has a serious drawback. If the problem with aluminum wiring ultimately lies in the points of connection, then what are we doing here? We are actually DOUBLING the number of connections in the house!
As you can see, pig-tailing creates more connections, which opens the door for more troubles. In fact, a very thorough report by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission outlines the problems with pigtailing.
There are several options when it comes to dealing with aluminum wiring in your home:
Unlike everyone else in the city, we are prepared to spend hours with you, at no charge, to evaluate the aluminum wiring in your home and provide recommendations on repair and replacement.
If you’d like to learn more about your system and investigate the possibility of rewiring your aluminum wiring, contact us for a free, no-obligation home consultation.