Aluminum Wiring – If your home was built mid 1960’s to late 1970’s then it may have Aluminum Wiring. Aluminum Wiring is silver in color as opposed to a brownish color for copper wire. You can google aluminum wiring and see lots of pics.
When Aluminum Wiring is found in a home, home inspectors are required to report on it…many insurers may not provide or renew insurance coverage on these homes unless the wiring is inspected by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), repaired or replaced as necessary, and a copy of the Certificate of Inspection is provided to the insurer. You should check with your insurance company for their requirements.Why is
Aluminum Wiring an issue? – This is due to the tendency of aluminum wiring to oxidize (rust), and aluminum’s incompatibility with devices designed for use with copper wiring only. Aluminum has a higher rate of expansion than copper wiring, which can lead to loose connections, arcing and melting, eventually fire. Aluminum wiring should only be connected to approved electrical devices.
Note: Warm cover plates or discoloration of switches or receptacles, flickering lights or the smell of hot plastic insulation may be evidence of poor or improperly made connections.
Aluminum Wiring, How to Fix – A Licensed Electrician should be hired to thoroughly inspect the house. The Aluminum wiring and all electrical outlet, switches and any fixture that the wiring is connected to must be approved for the use of aluminum wiring. The licensed electrician may pig tail the wire, which is connecting a copper wire to the aluminum wire and then connecting the other end of the copper wire to the screw terminal of the electrical fixture (see picture to the left of this paragraph). And or the licensed electrician may also use a special paste to coat the aluminum wire so it may reduce or slow down the oxidation process.
MUST READ THIS – Here is more information from the ESA Electrical Safety Authority which provides information on Aluminum Wiring and the need for a “safety certificate”. Once your on the ESA Aluminum Wiring page scroll down to the bottom to find the News Flash pdf.
Safety Issue: DO NOT open electrical panels or outlets, if your not sure call a Qualified Licensed Electrician…