In the 1960s and the 1970s, aluminum wiring was commonly utilized in structures due to the fact that it was much more cost-efficient than copper wiring.

While a trend during those decades, it has now been established that aluminum wiring poses immense dangers to the structures in which they are located and the individuals that work within those structures – be it a traditional retail business, a school, or an industrial-based company.

The main danger is that aluminum is now known to corrode when it touches copper. This corrosion results in the loosening of connections. As a result, arcing may then occur.

Arcing then may result in the development of fires. If the structure you have a vested interest in is wired with aluminum wiring, it is imperative that you understand that there is a guaranteed fire risk and that modifications should be made – immediately – to avoid complications.

The Problem

Many mistakenly believe that the aluminum wire, itself, is the main problem; however, this is not true. It is the level of hot connections – that occur on an intermittent basis – where the wires connect to the devices in which they operate. There are many theories on why this occurs, but, the actual cause has yet to be determined. Examples of the theories are as follows:

  1. The hot connections could be a result of the current passing through the aluminum. This is because aluminum wire expands more rapidly than copper wire.
  2. Aluminum wiring is thicker than the copper-based wiring. This could be a major contributor to the loosening connections.
  3. Aluminum wiring is a resistor. Resistors accumulate heat.
  4. Aluminum wiring has a higher level of oxide build. As time progresses, the oxide level increases.

Signs of Danger

Now that you know that there is a guaranteed fire risk in buildings that contain aluminum wiring, it is time to learn a few of the signs that danger is occurring with these types of wires. If you start to experience any of the following, you must contact an electrician immediately for the proper repairs and modifications:

  • The lights within the structure may start to flicker.
  • Static may be heard or seen on radios, televisions, and devices that use radio signals.
  • Switches and receptacles throughout the structure may start to arc or spark.
  • The cover plates that are located on plugs or switches may become warm.
  • Certain plugs and lights may start to malfunction, rendering them useless.
  • The circuit breakers within the structure may start to trip – without apparent cause.
  • The main distribution panels within the structure may start making arcing sounds.
  • Insulation may melt that is located on the conductors in the structure that are near connections.
  • An odor that resembles that which would be emitted from burning plastic may be present.
  • Junction boxes, plugs, and/or switches may start to smoke.
  • Lights within the structure may start to shine very brightly or may start to burn out very quickly.

If you have aluminum wiring in your structure or have noticed any of the danger signs outlined in this guide, contact Hardcore Electric today for repairs and modifications:


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