How to Install Aluminum Wiring Without Causing Fire Hazards


Aluminum wiring became popular in homes built between 1965 and 1973 because it was less expensive than copper wiring. However, aluminum wiring is known to pose fire risks if not properly installed and maintained. As a homeowner, you can safely install aluminum wiring if you take the right precautions. This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to install aluminum wiring safely.

Dangers of Improperly Installed Aluminum Wiring

Aluminum wiring is more likely to cause electrical fires if not properly installed for the following reasons:

Failing to account for these factors can lead to loose connections, electrical arcing, overheating, and fire hazards.

Using the Right Materials for Aluminum Wiring

To safely install aluminum wiring, you need to use the right connectors and outlets designed for aluminum:

Avoid using regular copper-only rated devices as they may not make a tight connection with aluminum wiring.

Step-by-Step Installation Guide

Follow these steps to safely install new aluminum wiring in your home:

1. Turn Off Power

Shut off power to the circuit you'll be working on at the main electrical panel. Use a non-contact voltage tester to confirm power is off.

2. Prepare the Wiring

Use sandpaper or steel wool to clean 1/2 inch of each aluminum wire end that will be connected. Apply anti-oxidant paste to wire ends.

3. Install CO/ALR Outlets and Switches

Connect aluminum wires to CO/ALR rated outlets and switches designed for aluminum wiring. Tighten connections to the manufacturer's specifications.

4. Use CO/ALR Connectors

Join aluminum wires to copper wiring in the circuit using special CO/ALR rated connectors. Follow the torque requirements stated on the connectors.

5. Securely Connect Wires

Keep wires tightly bundled and secured with electrical tape. This prevents loosening of connections over time.

6. Label the Circuit Breaker

Clearly label the circuit breaker controlling the aluminum wiring circuit for future reference.

7. Test Connections

Restore power and test that all connections are tight. Recheck connections after 24 hours.

Ongoing Safety Tips

Properly installed and maintained aluminum wiring can provide safe electrical service. But improper connections can be a fire danger. Follow this guide and consult an electrician to ensure safety.