How to Fix Aluminum Wiring in Your Home

I found out my home has aluminum wiring. This can be a fire hazard if not repaired properly. In this article, I will explain what aluminum wiring is, the dangers it poses, how to identify it, and the steps for fixing it correctly.

What is Aluminum Wiring?

Aluminum wiring became popular in houses built between 1965 and 1973 because it was cheaper than copper. However, aluminum expands more than copper and can loosen at connections. This leads to overheating, arcing, and potential fires.

Aluminum wiring is identified by its dull gray color and the letters "AL" stamped along the insulation. It may be found connecting outlets, switches, lights, the breaker box, and major appliances.

Dangers of Aluminum Wiring

The dangers of untreated aluminum wiring are:

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, aluminum wiring leads to over 50 deaths and 400 injuries each year. Fires, property damage, and power failures are also risks.

Identifying Aluminum Wiring

To find out if your home has aluminum wiring:

If unsure, contact a qualified electrician to identify wiring materials used in your home's circuits.

Fixing Aluminum Wiring

Properly repairing aluminum wiring involves:

Pigtailing

  1. Turn off power at the breaker
  2. Remove the outlet/switch and disconnect the aluminum wires
  3. Attach a short 6-8 inch piece of copper wire (pigtail) to each aluminum wire using special CO/ALR connectors
  4. Use copper wire to connect the outlet/switch and pigtails

Alumiconn Connectors

These are splice connectors that have a core of copper surrounded by aluminum. This eliminates the copper-aluminum connection issue.

COPALUM Crimp Connectors

These crimp onto aluminum wires after brushing off the insulation. A CO/ALR connector then attaches the COPALUM to copper.

Replace Outlets and Switches

Replace old outlets/switches with CO/ALR rated models that reduce heat issues with aluminum.

Rewire Circuit with Copper

Replacing the aluminum wiring with new copper provides the safest and most robust repair. I recommend hiring an electrician for this option.

Preventing Aluminum Wiring Fires

To stay safe after repairs:

Properly repairing aluminum wiring reduces the safety risks it poses. Follow the steps outlined above to fix aluminum wiring and protect your home and family. Let me know if you have any other questions!