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Transitioning from Aluminum to Copper Wiring

Posted on: February 27, 2013

A significant number of homes in Baltimore and Bethesda, MD, Alexandria, VA, and Washington, DC built between the mid-1960s and the first half of the 1970s have hazardous aluminum wiring rather than copper. During that time, aluminum wiring was considered safe to use and viewed as a cost-saving measure. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) now believes aluminum wiring poses a safety hazard in homes that still have this type of wiring.

Dangers of Aluminum Wiring

The biggest danger associated with aluminum wiring is that unanticipated fire hazards arise from the oxidation and deterioration caused at the points where aluminum wiring is connected at outlets, light fixtures, and splices. While this can cause overheating and arching that won’t trip a circuit breaker, it can cause a fire. Aluminum wiring was used in an estimated 2 million homes between 1965 and 1973—and many of these homes are located in the MD, VA, and DC area.

If you’re concerned about dangerous aluminum wiring, pay attention to the following warning signs:

  • Outlets and switches that are warm to the touch
  • Lights flickering
  • Circuits that don’t work
  • The smell of burning plastic

All of these signs indicate a potential fire hazard for standard aluminum wiring.

Aluminum to Copper Wiring

Aluminum wiring should be thoroughly evaluated by a qualified electrician who is experienced in inspecting and correcting wiring problems. The CPSC recommends a few methods for correction. The first is to rewire the home with copper wire, an expensive option that really only makes sense if the homeowner is already in the process of completely remodeling or doing deep renovations. The second option is to use the Copalum crimp method to correct the problem. This involves attaching a piece of copper wire to the existing aluminum wire with a specially designed metal sleeve and powered crimping tool. It is a permanent repair option that will eliminate the dangers posed by aluminum wiring. A third option is to use a UL listed copper to aluminum connector to attach a copper wire to the existing aluminum wire.

Call Kolb Electric if Your Home has Aluminum Wiring

Only an experienced electrician can accurately determine the level of danger a home with aluminum wiring faces, and then fix the problem in an efficient, timely manner.

If your home has aluminum wiring, we recommend that you call Kolb Electric or contact us online. We will send one of our expert electricians out to evaluate the aluminum wiring in your home to determine the best option to make your home as safe as possible. We’ve been serving Baltimore and Bethesda, MD as well as Alexandria, VA and Washington, DC since 1925. You can count on our experienced electricians to get the job done right the first time.

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