Aluminum wiring was once used as a substitute for copper wiring because the material was less expensive. However, aluminum wiring is now not considered to be a safe substitute for copper wiring. However, if your home was built in the 60s and 70s, your home might have aluminum wiring that was grandfathered in and is not considered to be a code violation.
Still, you will want to take steps to protect your home with the help of a licensed electrician.
Identifying Aluminum Wiring
You will usually be informed that your home has aluminum wiring when you purchase it. If you are not sure, look for wiring that is exposed or for a service panel. This will likely have the word aluminum on it or an abbreviation of the word.
If you aren't sure, you should ask the home building inspector to reveal whether the home has aluminum wiring before you purchase the home. If your suspicions are confirmed, you will need to hire a licensed electrician that can inspect your entire electrical system to make sure that there are no safety hazards.
Replacing the Receptacles
You can replace all of the receptacles and switches with those that are rated to work with aluminum. However, taking this approach will limit the types of devices that you can use.
Installing Dielectric Wire Nuts
The aluminum, when it is on contact with copper, will corrode. This will cause connections to loosen, which can lead to a fire. Fortunately, you can resolve this problem with a dielectric wire nut. These nuts use grease to stop the corrosion and also do not disrupt connectivity. Also, when replacing switches, make sure that they are compatible with aluminum wiring.
Pigtailing with Copper Wire
Another option is to have every connection point have a length of copper wire pigtailed onto the aluminum wire. You will need to use splice connectors rather than simply a wire nut. You will want to use a licensed electrician because they will know exactly what type of nut you will need to use.
Rewiring the Home
The safest approach is to have your entire home rewired by a licensed electrician. This will involve the electrician ripping out the old aluminum so that your home can be rewired with modern copper wires. However, this is also the most expensive. Still, you will more likely sleep at night and your insurance company will harass you less. With aluminum wiring, your insurance company is likely to want your home more thoroughly inspected to make sure that your home is safe to insure.
To learn more, contact a company like Dr Electric with any questions you have.