Is Aluminum Wiring Safe?
This is the big question and the answers can be varied and technical. So here is a non-technical look at why everyone is talking about it.
If your home was built between the 1960’s and early 1970’s, it is likely your home has aluminum wiring throughout its branch circuits. Homes built after the mid-1970’s were built using copper wiring.
Overtime aluminum wiring tends to oxidize which can result in overheating and eventually failure. Aluminum also has a higher rate of expansion and becomes flattened at termination points, causing arching, sparks and possibly fire.
Due to the increase failure of aluminum wiring, most insurance companies require a thorough electrical safety inspection completed by a certified electrical contractor. These inspections are usually required before issuing a new policy or upon renewal. Electrical modifications are usually needed to ensure the home is safe on a permeant basis.
There are currently 4 ways to remediate or bridge aluminum/copper connections. Re-Wire, Marette and Anti-oxidant, Copalum© and Alumiconn©
Re‐Wire: This method is very costly and not necessary. This may be recommended if the home was being gutted and renovated.
Marette and Anti‐oxidant: This method is the most cost effective and a common handyman method. With proper application this method is a good start in improving the safety of your home’s electrical system. However, in CPSC‐sponsored laboratory testing and in‐the‐field tests, a substantial number of these connectors failed and overheated. Currently CSA approved, generally not recommended as a permeant solution
Copalum: This method requires a crimping tool that can only be operated by an electrician who is certified to use it. It can be limiting if there is not a certified technician in your area. This is one of the preferred methods as it is deemed to be a permeant solution.
Alumiconn: This method also requires a trained electrician to install. This device keeps all wires separate from each other, but is still deemed a pigtail method. This method is considered to be a permeant solution and is readily available in all markets
This method is very costly and not necessary. This may be recommended if the home was being gutted and renovated.