How to Safely Replace Aluminum Wiring in your Home

I want to share my experience and advice for safely replacing aluminum wiring in your home. As a homeowner, I learned the hard way how dangerous faulty aluminum wiring can be. Replacing it yourself is a big project, but totally doable if you educate yourself and work carefully. Here’s how I did it in my 1970s era home.

Dangers of Aluminum Wiring

Before we get into the how-to, you need to understand why aluminum wiring is a problem.

Aluminum wiring was used in many homes built between 1965 and 1973. It was cheaper than copper at the time. But aluminum expands and contracts more than copper. This can loosen connections and cause:

So old aluminum wiring poses serious fire and safety risks. Replacing it should be a top priority for any homeowner.

Develop a Replacement Plan

Replacing all the aluminum wiring in a home is labor intensive. Break it down into manageable chunks.

I recommend replacing it room-by-room. Start with high priority areas like:

Make a list of all switches, outlets, and fixtures in the room. This helps you:

Safety should be your top concern during planning. Be sure to:

Purchase the Right Supplies

For each aluminum wire you identify, you will need:

Match the copper replacement wire gauge to existing aluminum wire gauge. Using a thicker gauge can overload circuits. Common sizes are 10, 12 or 14 gauge.

Buy only connectors listed for joining copper and aluminum. These have special compounds to combat corrosion and oxidation between the different metals.

Joining Copper and Aluminum Wires

Here are the step-by-step basics to safely join copper and aluminum wires:

  1. Turn off power at fuse box and verify it's off
  2. Remove aluminum wire from switch/outlet/fixture
  3. Clean aluminum wire end thoroughly with wire brush
  4. Slip copper/aluminum connector over new copper wire
  5. Insert cleaned aluminum wire fully into connector
  6. Secure connector per manufacturer instructions
  7. Cover connection with wire nut and wrap with electrical tape
  8. Mount new copper wire to switch/outlet/fixture

Repeat for all aluminum wiring replacements in the room. Go slow and be super diligent with each connection.

Finishing Touches

Once all switches, outlets and fixtures in the room are upgraded, do some finishing steps:

Take your time and don't cut corners. If you stay organized and follow safety precautions, you can successfully replace aluminum wiring yourself. But don't hesitate to call an electrician if you hit snags or don't feel comfortable. Safety first!