Improving Safety and Reducing Costs By Replacing Aluminum Building Wire

Improving Safety and Reducing Costs By Replacing Aluminum Building Wire


Aluminum building wire became popular in the 1960s and 1970s as an inexpensive alternative to copper wiring. However, it has become clear over time that aluminum wiring poses serious fire hazards and should be replaced with safer copper wiring. In this article, I will discuss the dangers of aluminum building wire and the benefits of upgrading to copper.

Dangers of Aluminum Building Wire

Aluminum wiring is unsafe for several reasons:

Tendency to Oxidize

Different Expansion Rates from Copper

Lower Ampacity Than Copper

Dangers of Loose Connections

The main risk posed by aluminum building wire is loose connections leading to overheating and arcing. This can occur at outlets, switches, junction boxes, breaker panels, and wire splices. Warning signs include:

These are signs of loose connections and dangerous electrical arcing. If observed, a qualified electrician should inspect the system immediately before a fire occurs.

Benefits of Upgrading to Copper

Upgrading aluminum wiring to copper provides several benefits:

Fire Safety

Insurance Savings

Increased Home Value

Added Peace of Mind

Cost of Replacement

The cost to replace aluminum building wire with copper depends on several factors:

According to electricians, total replacement costs often range from $3,000 to $15,000. While not inexpensive, this cost can be recouped through insurance savings and increased home value. Spreading the replacement over several years can make the process more affordable.

Prioritizing the Work

When undertaking an aluminum wiring replacement project, focus first on locations posing the greatest hazards:

Replacing these high-risk locations provides the greatest safety improvement per dollar spent.


Older aluminum building wiring poses a severe fire risk due to its tendency to overheat at connections. Upgrading to copper wire significantly improves safety. While not a small expense, the benefits include reduced insurance costs, increased home value, and most importantly - improved safety for your family. Replacement costs can be managed by selectively addressing the highest risk locations first.