Aluminum wire itself is safe and a good conductor of electricity. Problems with aluminum wiring are two-fold and almost entirely related to the points of connection.
Receptacles, light switches and fixtures are obvious connection points, but the electrical panel also has multiple connections as well. The average 3 bedroom home will have 165-195 connections throughout the house and an average of 96 connections in the electrical panel. Every connection is a potential hot spot.
Aluminum is a very soft metal. Great care must be taken at every connection to avoid damaging (nicking the wire). A small nick caused by over-tightening a connector or screw, or a scrape in the wire when removing the sheathing to connect to a switch etc. causes a hot spot.
It’s not always possible to determine if you have aluminum wiring without a professional but a good place to start is to look at any exposed wires between the open floor joists in the basement, up in the attic, or at the service panel.
If the wiring is aluminum and was manufactured before May 1977, the outer covering of the cable will be marked, at least every 12 inches, with the word ALUMINUM, or an abbreviation, ALUM, or AL.
Other clues include unusually warm or warped outlets and switch cover plates, strange odours coming from receptacles and switches and periodic flickering of lights.
We receive frequent service calls from clients whose insurance companies request confirmation that their aluminum wiring is code-compliant.
There is always the fearful question “Do we have to re-wire our home to keep our insurance? The answer is NO.
The solution is to start with a professional Aluminum Wiring assessment. Your technician will perform a thorough assessment of your aluminum wiring system and work with you to determine which of the 3 ESA approved options are best to make your home wiring safety compliant.
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