Aluminum Wiring Hazards
- Aluminum Wiring Hazards
Between approximately 1965 and 1973 aluminum wiring was sometimes substituted for copper branch circuit wiring in residential electrical systems.
Neglected connections in outlets, switches and light fixtures containing aluminum wiring become increasingly dangerous as time passes. Poor connections cause wiring to overheat, creating a potential fire hazard.
In addition to creating a potential fire hazard, the presence of aluminum wiring may have an effect on your insurance policy. You should ask your insurance agent whether the presence of aluminum wiring is a problem that requires changes to your policy language in order to ensure that your house is covered.
Here are the reasons aluminum wiring connections deteriorate:
Thermal expansion and contraction:
Even more than copper, aluminum expands and contracts with changes in temperature. Over time, this will cause connections to loosen. When wires are poorly connected they overheat, which creates a potential fire hazard.
Electrical current vibrates as it passes through wiring. This vibration is more extreme in aluminum than it is in copper and as time passes, it can cause connections to loosen. Again, when wires are poorly connected they overheat, which creates a potential fire hazard.
Exposure to oxygen in the air causes deterioration to the outer surface of wire. This process is called oxidation. Aluminum wire is more easily oxidized than copper wire and as time passes, this process can cause problems with connections. Again, when wires are poorly connected they overheat, which creates a potential fire hazard.
When two different kinds of metal are connected to each other a very low-voltage electrical current is created which causes corrosion. Corrosion causes poor connections.