Should I Get My Aluminum Wiring Updated?
If your home still has aluminum wiring, it should be updated and replaced. Installed in homes built between 1965 and 1973, it’s prone to losing its shape and structure due to repeated temperature changes. If the wiring becomes structurally unstable, it can become a fire hazard. It’s estimated that two million residences were built with aluminum wiring as a cheaper alternative to copper.
Aluminum wires can overheat very easily. But if your home was built in the timeframe these installations were used, don’t try to take apart every electrical panel and fixture. You’ll just increase your risk of an electric shock. You can instead schedule a visit by a trained electrician in Los Angeles who knows what to look for.
Despite some misconceptions, having aluminum wiring is not illegal. Nor is it a reason to panic. Important facts to note include the aluminum can expand more than copper due to strong electrical currents. As a result, the aluminum can push on the terminal screws and loosen connections. Also, oxide forms over aluminum over time, which can cause overheating and, being softer than copper, the metal can easily break where there are hot spots.
To check for evidence of aluminum wiring, look for warm socket faceplates on light switches, a smell of burning plastic nearby, or flickering lights with no known cause.
Aluminum wiring is unsafe. Insurance companies know this and often require a signed certificate from a licensed electrician or authority to prove a house has copper wiring. They may refuse to issue a policy if the wiring is outdated. Therefore, you may need an electrician to address a few options you may have, including:
Rewiring your home, which can be expensive but permanently resolves the safety issues, replacing all aluminum wiring with copper wiring to reduce your electrical fire risk.
Creating a pigtail connection with a copper copalum crimp. By attaching it to your existing aluminum wiring, you can secure each connection permanently.
Waiting for repairs if there’s no sign of a problem. In this case, regular inspections by an electrician must be scheduled, but this only borrows time and is not the best option.