Home >> Why have it inspected ? >> Aluminum Wiring – Building Inspection

While properly maintained aluminum wiring is acceptable, it will generally fail faster than copper. Insurance companies are also reluctant to insure a building that contains it because of the risk of fire.

Aluminum cabling is not unanimous in the world of electricity distribution. They are very useful for certain uses, especially on a large scale. Hydro-Québec, for example, does not hesitate to use them on the vast majority of their electrical distribution system in complete safety .

Here o ù it thickens very often is when the aluminum wiring is used in conjunction with equipment designed for wiring leather. Aluminum tends to oxidize and heat up faster than copper. The situation is worse if the two materials are mixed and used on the same terminal block . If the right steps are not taken to secure bitch x ions, fire risks are real.

How to recognize aluminum wires ?

  • Aluminum wiring can be recognized by its silver color which distinguishes it from copper. 
  • The cables should have a plastic sheath with the initials AL. 
  • If the building was constructed between 1965 and 1973, the chances of it containing aluminum wiring are higher.  

Why is aluminum wiring used?

As mentioned above, aluminum wiring is used safely on a large scale. Most of the Hydro-Québec system is made up of them. Although less conductive than copper, aluminum proved to be a more affordable alternative in the 1970s. The price of copper was then on the rise while aluminum was more and more common. This is why it is still found in the majority of houses built at that time.
The hardware itself is not necessarily a problem. In some cases (like building an electrical entry), its greater malleability makes it a better choice than copper. Aluminum is also twice as light and endures movement a little better.

What is the risk?

Once inside the house, most electrical components are manufactured to be compatible with copper. Aluminum wire installation requires components compatible with aluminum. These are generally rarer and more expensive. If the previous homeowner decided to cut corners and save a few dollars by choosing copper electrical outlets but aluminum wiring, your home is at risk of fire. The bitch x ions will over time oxidize and cause problems.
This is why insurance companies have developed a suspicious attitude towards residential installations with aluminum cabling. When an electrical system is discovered that includes it, a building inspector must ensure that everything is safe and in order.

What if you discover aluminum cables at home?

Most of the incidents that occur are caused by improper circuit installation and not because aluminum is a poor quality material. Thus, aluminum wiring does not represent a huge risk if the installation is done in a professional manner. Your home inspector can tell you if the electrical system is safe and refer you to a master electrician if necessary.

This will present you with a few options to correct the situation:

  • Completely redo the electrical installation of the building. Although the most effective, this method will certainly prove to be  the most  expensive. 
  • Use specially designed CopAlum crimps. This special fitting  can only be installed by a certified electrician. It resolves the compatibility problem between the aluminum circuit and electrical outlets designed for copper.   
  • Coat the connections with an antioxidant paste, considered a temporary solution. 
When the situation is properly corrected, a master electrician can provide you with a certificate guaranteeing the safety of the installation. This will make it easier for you to insure or sell your property.

C ow detect a problem?

How do you know if aluminum wiring is a problem in your home? Here are some clues:
  • Electrical outlets or switches give off heat 
  • Some  lights are flashing 
  • Light bulbs burn quickly or shine brighter than normal  
  • Static from the TV  
  • Electric arcs   from electrical outlets  and switches 
  • A smell of smoke emanating from switches or electrical outlets 
While these clues can alert you to danger, the only way to be sure is to have your building inspected by a certified home inspector . It will be able to tell you with certainty if the presence of aluminum wiring in your electrical circuit represents a risk.