How to Replace Aluminum Wiring

Why Replace Aluminum Wiring?

Aluminum wiring was commonly installed in homes built between 1965 and 1973. Compared to copper wiring, aluminum is less expensive and conducts electricity efficiently. However, aluminum wiring is prone to overheating and corrosion, which can lead to fire hazards if not properly maintained. Replacing aluminum wiring with copper wiring eliminates the risks and improves electrical safety.

Dangers of Aluminum Wiring

Aluminum wiring is dangerous for several reasons:

Replacing old aluminum wiring removes these fire hazards and provides peace of mind.

Planning the Replacement Project

Replacing aluminum wiring in a home is a major project that requires planning and preparation:

Hire a Licensed Electrician

Check with Insurance Company

Budget and Schedule

Notify Family Members

Remove Obstructions

Check the Electrical Panel

Step-by-Step Replacement Process

The general process for replacing aluminum wiring is:

1. Turn Off Electrical Power

The electrician will shut off power at the main circuit breaker. Test wires with a voltage tester to ensure they are de-energized.

2. Remove Outlet and Switch Cover Plates

The electrician will remove all cover plates to access the wires behind electrical boxes.

3. Disconnect and Remove Aluminum Wires

The old aluminum wires are disconnected from outlets, switches, and appliances. The aluminum wires are pulled out of the electrical boxes.

4. Install New Copper Wires

The electrician routes new copper wires through the electrical boxes, connecting them to devices using special CO/ALR connectors rated for copper-aluminum connections.

5. Connect Wires at the Service Panel

At the main service panel, the electrician transfers all the circuit wires from the aluminum feeds to new copper feeds.

6. Test Circuits and Devices

Each circuit is tested for proper wiring connections and grounding. Light switches and outlets are verified operational.

7. Install New Outlet and Switch Cover Plates

New electrical cover plates are installed throughout the home to complete the project.

Why Choose Copper Over Aluminum?

Electricians overwhelmingly recommend upgrading wiring to copper rather than re-using existing aluminum for several important reasons:

While copper wiring costs more upfront, it's a smart long-term investment in safety, performance, and value.

Maintaining Copper Wiring

To get the most from a copper rewiring project, be sure to properly maintain your new copper wires:

Properly maintained copper wiring will provide safe, reliable electrical power for decades to come. Replacing old aluminum wiring improves safety and reduces fire risks.