Converting from Aluminum to Copper Wiring

If you’re living in a house built between 1965 and 1973, chances are you don’t have copper wiring throughout your home. This is problematic for a variety of reasons. As the older aluminum wiring ages, it creates an increased fire hazard. Electrical fires are the third most common cause of house fires, after cooking and heating. If you are thinking of selling your home, this is something you will have to address. You may pay higher insurance premiums or be unable to obtain homeowner’s insurance with aluminum wiring.

Why Weren’t Houses Built With Copper Wiring?

If aluminum wiring presents a fire hazard, why was it ever used in the first place, you may ask. First, the most obvious answer; aluminum is less expensive than copper. This is especially true historically. There was a copper shortage in the 1960s. Furthermore, this shortage occurred in the same time frame as the building boom.  Therefore, more houses were being built and less copper was available. It is also lighter and easier to work with.

What’s the Problem With Aluminum?

Aluminum begins to crack and move over time. It expands and shrinks as the temperature and weather changes. This instability can cause overheating and arcing. The biggest problem is caused by the connections aluminum wiring makes with electrical fixtures, switches, outlets, or even circuit breakers. In particular, the connections become loose over time and cause sparks that can lead to a hazardous house fire.

How Can the Problem Be Fixed?

There are two methods for improving the safety of the wiring in your home. One is to replace the entire wiring system with copper wire. The other method is called “pigtailing.” If you opt for the pigtailing method, it is less expensive than replacing all the wiring. As we mentioned earlier, the biggest safety hazard is at the connection point of the aluminum wiring. A licensed electrician can add copper wire connections to every electrical device and outlet in the home. It is essential to use a licensed electrician for this, as the method used creates a cold weld between the copper and the aluminum and is not a project for your average DIY.

Converting the Whole House to Copper Wiring

Of course, the ultimate solution is to have the whole house rewired with copper wiring. This rewiring also requires a licensed electrician and can be costly. Expect to pay thousands for this repair, depending on the home’s size and how easy it is to access the wiring. If you are buying a house built within the 65-73 time frame… request replacement wiring before you take possession. If you’re selling a home with aluminum wiring, plan this changeover expense into your preparation for selling plans and budget.

Help With Changing Aluminum to Copper Wiring

At Deshaies Electrical Service, we help homeowners to make this conversion on their older homes. We begin by coming for a consultation to evaluate the status of your house’s wiring system. We can make recommendations from there. Many people love the character and feel of a home from the sixties or seventies. However, this is one of the changes you should make to ensure your comfort and safety in the house. Call us today to schedule an inspection of your home’s wiring system.