If your home was built between 1965 and 1973, there is a good chance you have aluminum branch electrical wiring. Branch electrical wiring refers to the wires which connect receptacles, switches, lights and other electrical devices.
Problems With Aluminum Wiring
The major problem with aluminum wiring is that the wires are not durable. The wires are often too small for the smaller 15 to 20 amps found in wiring for homes. This creates a risk of heat build-up. Additionally, there can often be a problem where the wires wrap around electrical devices because oxidation can cause the wires to disintegrate. This creates a fire hazard.
Aluminum is soft and more malleable than copper. Therefore, it expands as it gets hotter. This can cause a gap to develop between the wire and connector. As the gap widens, the wire gets hotter to the point it could burn out or ignite.
Warning Signs of Aluminum Wiring
If you have noticed no outward problems with your home’s electrical wiring, you may think you don’t have to worry about upgrading. However, you must keep in mind that aluminum wiring will eventually fail and you will have to replace the wiring if you want to avoid potential problems and dangers such as fire.
Take note of lights that dim or brighten when a motor starts. Flickering lights can indicate a bad connection. Be concerned if appliances or other electrical devices suddenly stop working. If you smell burning plastic or observe smoke, sparks or a flame you have a problem.
If you suspect aluminum wiring, get an inspection. A professional will be able to tell you if you if you need to upgrade.
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