How to Safely Work with Aluminum Wiring in Your Older Home
February 8th 2021
At OKV Electric in Kelowna, we are residential electrical specialists. From upgrading your older home to making your new home move-in ready, we have the answers to all your questions and the expertise to provide all your electrical services safely and efficiently. If you are in the Kelowna-area and think the electrical in your older home may need some work but aren’t comfortable doing the work yourself, don’t hesitate to call OKV at 250-540-6894. If you want to know how to safely work with the aluminum wiring in your home, we can provide you with a few suggestions.
First, when working with electricity, it’s always important to do the job correctly. This adage is especially important when dealing with aluminum wiring. Your family’s safety depends on it. Between the 1960s and 1970s copper prices were high, so aluminum was often used in its place. While this may have been the frugal choice, there are some inherent dangers with aluminum wiring. The reason aluminum can become dangerous is that it expands and contracts much more than copper wiring, and this results in loose connections. Loose connections cause excess amperage which equals heat, which can cause melting insulation and, subsequently, create a dangerous fire hazard.
In addition to the dangers of expanding and contracting, today’s electrical devices (plugs, switches, lights, etc.) are all only rated for copper wiring, so as soon as you hook an aluminum conductor up to it you are joining unlike metals, which creates a loose connection and again causes a hot spot in the circuit. Hot spots = danger.
How then, can you safely work with aluminum wiring? The proper way to do it is by installing aluminum wiring pigtails (connectors). First, you take off the aluminum pigtails (a short piece of wire that splices onto the wires in the box to connect to the device for that box) and connect a copper pigtail in its place. At the point where all the wires splice together and the new copper pigtail joins in, you must use aluminum and copper rated Marrette (wire connector) as well as a de-oxidization agent inside the Marrette. This process makes it so that a copper wire is connected to the device. Using proper connectors along with the de-oxidization agent that prevents the expanding and contracting, you can safely deal with aluminum wiring in an older home. This is the safest, most effective process, and it can also provide a financial bonus. If you follow this process and make sure to pull your electrical permit, most insurance companies will give you a reduced insurance rate. That plus knowing that you are safe in your own home are great reasons to take care of the electrical in your home sooner than later.
This explanation may seem simple enough, but unless you are confident in your abilities, it’s most likely a job best left to professionals. It needs to be done precisely to ensure the connection is safe and secure. If you are looking into electrical companies in Kelowna, look no further than OKV Electric. From our products to our services, at OKV we believe in customer satisfaction. Read more about our residential services in the Okanagan or request a free quote.