Aluminum wiring was used in the early 1970s. At that time, manufacturers thought it was the best alloy for electrical wiring in both residential and commercial buildings. However, aluminum has several issues when it comes to electrical conductivity. Here are some of those issues.
The Negatives of Aluminum Wiring
In comparison to today’s copper wiring, the biggest issue with aluminum wiring occurs at connections. Aluminum has a higher electrical resistance. Which means that for the same current to flow through the wires, you need larger wires, and those wires will generate more heat because of the resistance. This additional heat causes the metal to expand and contract more than copper wires, which can cause loose connections.
Also, aluminum is a brittle metal that does not stand up the constant bending and stretching common in electrical work. As it is worked more and more, it can be damaged which causes even more electrical resistance.
Most metals suffer from galvanic corrosion when they are joined with dissimilar metals. Therefore, one of the biggest dangers with aluminum wiring is when homeowners upgrade old outlets to new ones that are not compatible with the existing aluminum wiring. This is one of the biggest causes of fires. If you suspect that you have aluminum wiring, check that your new outlets or switches are designed specifically for aluminum wiring.
Or, if upgrades are needed, the best option may be to have a complete rewiring of your house. It might be expensive, but it is a one-time safety issue that is best handled before an accident occurs.