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Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical Blog

Aluminum Wiring in Your House: Do You Need It Rewired?


Los Angeles may not have homes dating back to the 19th century like you often find in New England, but we do have homes old enough that may need extensive electrical rewiring. The amount of electricity a house uses daily has skyrocketed since the 1980s, and many homes have wiring that is older than that.

In this post, we’re going to address a specific type of older wiring issue, one that many homes in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley have: aluminum wiring. 

If you have aluminum wiring in your house, do you need to schedule rewiring to replace it? Follow us below to learn more… 

The Days of Aluminum Wiring

From the earliest days of home electricity, copper was the primary metal used for wiring. Copper is highly conductive, light weight, and easy to work with. It is still the standard for the wiring used today.

However, from 1965 until 1972, a rise in the cost of copper led to a switch to using aluminum wiring as an alternative because of its lower cost. Aluminum is as effective at conducting electricity and could do so safely. However, aluminum wiring ceased being used after 1972. 

Why Did Wiring Aluminum Stop Being Used?

Although aluminum safely conducts electricity, it creates problems at connection points. Aluminum is a softer metal than copper so that it expands more as it heats up when it conducts electricity. The constant expansion and contraction can cause the wire to start to draw out from under connector screws and come loose. Aluminum also has trouble with oxidation. Although copper wire also oxidizes, its oxidation layer continues to allow electrical conduction. The oxidation on aluminum worsens conductivity, and that puts the wiring at risk of overheating and melting the insulation around it. 

Is Aluminum Wiring Dangerous?

The risk of overheating is the main danger from aluminum wiring and can cause electrical fires if it burns off its insulation. It can also create dangers when it comes loose from connectors and from the speed at which it wears down due to expansion. Because aluminum wires are found in homes that are already over 50 years old, the wiring in these homes is likely already badly worn down from age.

So I Need to Have Aluminum Wiring Replaced?

Not all the time—at least, you may not need a full house electrical rewiring in Encino, CA to fix the problem. Electricians can make the wiring safer by adding a short section of copper wire to their ends. This makes for safer connections to outlets, switches, junction boxes, and more. 

However, if your aluminum wiring has started to melt away insulation, then electricians will need to replace the entire wire. 

The best way to get started is to schedule an electrical inspection with our team. We can locate aluminum wiring and determine what work needs to be done to keep your home safe. In some situations, you may only need a few changes. In more extreme cases, we’ll recommend a full rewiring.

Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical serves Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Call us today for your electrical needs.

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