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Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical Blog

The Troubles With Aluminum Wiring in Your Home


An important job of any electrician in Van Nuys, CA is keeping homes safe from fires due to faulty wiring. Bad wiring takes many different forms. Our electricians often run into terrible DIY jobs or amateur work on rewiring parts of a home that are against code. You may have this type of electrical danger in your house and not even know it because the previous resident was responsible.

There’s another wiring concern we often deal with: aluminum wiring. This metal was used extensively for wiring in houses built between 1965 and 1972. If you live in a home of this vintage—and there are plenty in L.A. and the San Fernando Valley—you may have a fire hazard lurking in your walls.

The Aluminum Wiring Problem

In the mid-1960s the price of copper rose, and electricians turned to aluminum as a less expensive alternative for household wiring. However, there were problems with the switch. Aluminum conducts electricity, but not as well as copper. To make up for this, electricians used larger aluminum wiring to allow for the best flow of voltage. The standard gauge for copper wires is 14, while aluminum was installed at 12 gauge. (When measuring gauge, the smaller the number, the larger the wires.) The larger wire size caused overheating issues.

There were other concerns that started to crop up not long after aluminum wiring became common. The softer aluminum was harder for electricians to work with. Aluminum expands more than copper when it heats up, and this was leading to the wires starting to push out from connection points at terminal screws. Connections became loose and overheated. The rust on aluminum also blocked electrical connections.

Because of this, extensive use of aluminum wiring stopped in 1972 when copper was no longer prohibitively expensive. Aluminum hasn’t been outlawed or recalled in home electrical systems; in fact, aluminum still has many specific uses. But we encourage homeowners who suspect they have aluminum wiring to arrange for an inspection. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has found homes with aluminum wiring are 55 times more likely to have one or more wire connections that present fire hazard conditions.

The Wiring Solution

Here’s good news if you live in a home constructed with aluminum wiring: you probably don’t need to have whole-house rewiring. The main concern with aluminum wiring is the size of the wire and its expansion at connection points. Instead of replacing all the wires, electricians can instead make changes to the connection points.

Our professional, licensed electricians can put in copper connections to replace the aluminum ones. All it takes is short copper sections to remove the hazard of the loose connections and potential fires. The electricians may need to replace a few of the junction boxes if they’re too small and won’t fit the new copper sections. Otherwise, this isn’t a difficult or time-consuming job for our pros.

Please call our electricians for an inspection if your home falls in the age range of extensive aluminum wiring.

Call our certified service technicians 24/7 for exceptional customer service! Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical serves Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

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