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Aluminum Wiring and Its Danger

You may not know that there can be problems with aluminum wiring - or else you may think that all houses have copper wire in them. Unfortunately, many houses built in the late '60s and early '70s have aluminum wiring - wiring that may be endangering your family's lives.

"Wait," you may be saying, "Is there really a problem?"

Aluminum wiring  melted the plastic on this plug.No one knows what the actual statistics are. That's because when fires occur, the cause of the fire may be reported only as "electrical" instead of "aluminum wiring." But the issues are real enough that the Saint John Electrical Inspector has issued a warning about the dangers of aluminum wiring.

As you can see by the photo to the right, aluminum wiring can cause many problems. The charred dryer outlet shows the overheating that occurs with aluminum wiring. We've seen plugs where the prongs are so often overheated from aluminum house wiring that the prongs crumble when the plug is pulled from the outlet.

Unfortunately, most people don't know they have aluminum wiring. But given the risk, is it worth your children's safety not to find out?

If you have a house that was built in the '60s or '70s (or is it was remodeled or an addition added at that time), you should call an electrical contractor to find out if the wiring in your house is aluminum. The contractor, if he or she finds aluminum wiring, can then let you know your options. These may include rewiring the house with copper wire; however, that option is often too expensive for most people. There are other options and we can let you know about them.

You should also be aware of different signs that may tell you that there are problems with your wiring. These include:

  • outlets that smell "hot" or of burning plastic; Aluminum wiring charred this plug.

  • hot to the touch outlet or switch plates;

  • snapping noises coming from outlets, lights, or switches;

  • flickering lights;

  • outlets that sometimes work and sometimes don't; and

  • circuits that don't work.

If you notice any of these signs, whatever you do, don't try and fix it yourself. We've seen houses where the only thing that kept a fire from breaking out was that the outlet plate kept air (and combustible oxygen) from the defective, dangerous wires.

If you think you may have aluminum wiring or you've experienced any of the danger symptoms, immediately stop using the appliance or device, turn off the breaker and call Mister Electric at 301-449-9440

Another example of charred aluminum wiring.

 

 

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Copyright 2004 Mr. Electric Washington DC
Last modified: 03/15/09

 

 

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