Electrical Contractor Explains why Aluminium Wiring is Dangerous
Aluminum wiring is an extremely hazardous thing to have at home. Aluminum wiring was considered to be as safe as copper wiring years ago, but nowadays electrical contractors shudder at the thought of having an aluminum wiring system in any facility whether residential or commercial. The same concerns have been voiced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission with regards to the wiring system. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about two million houses were built or renovated in the United States of America using aluminum wiring and unless safety measures are undertaken right away, every switch, junction box or outlet is a fire waiting to happen. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has stated that employing aluminum wires increases the chances of a fire by a major 55% unlike copper wires. Aluminum wires are prone to catching fore even without tripping a circuit breaker. The most vulnerable ones are the mobile homes built between the 1960s and the 1970s. Therefore, they have been deemed dangerous and immediate replacement of such a wiring system should be conducted if possible, since major fires and even deaths have been reported due to this very reason. The following is a list of reasons stating why aluminum wiring is considered so dangerous:
Thermal expansion and contraction:
The aluminum wires are known to contract and expand at a different rate than any other electrical wiring system. When electrical current passes through the wire it creates a change in temperature. Now the heavier the load, the smaller is the wire and therefore the greater is the rise in temperature of the wire. When the aluminum wire heats up too much because of electric flow, it expands to the point of pushing away the contact and therefore this creates a gap when the wire cools down. Because of this gap created after the wire contracts, electricity is forced to jump or arc in order to continue the circuit. These arcs caused due to the jumping of the electric flow can heat up to extremely high temperatures of about 10,000 degree Fahrenheit. These high temperatures caused by the arcs can easily cause fire in the wiring system itself, which then spreads to all the sockets and connected appliances. Therefore, the fire spreads to fast and in the process burns everything down.
Oxidization makes it a poor conductor:
The oxidizing property of aluminum creates this problem. The aluminum wires when exposed to oxygen tend to oxidize and form a compound which ends up as a coating on the wire. Now aluminum oxidizes extremely fast and therefore, the wire gets coated fast as well. Now we already know that when electricity passes it causes a rise in temperature. The coating formed on the wire acts as resistance and therefore the electricity while passing through the wire heats up the wire even more due to the increased resistance. Therefore, the wire starts expanding which leads to arcs and finally another fire. The oxidizing property of copper is not as high as that of aluminum and therefore it is a much safer option.
Electrical contractors are fully aware of the fragility of aluminum wires and this makes matters worse. Other wires like copper wires are not as fragile as this one. Therefore these are easily broken or nicked which causes a gap in the circuit; the chances of breaking, increases when the wires are looped or tied around screws. They can easily break since they become brittle.
Warning signs are not necessary especially when you are aware of the dangers of having such a system at home. So, if you have an aluminum wiring system at home, get it replaced. People owning homes built between 1960s and the 1970s should be extra careful and they should definitely have an electrical contractor check the entire system. The only signs to look out for are, flickering lights, lights fading, switches and sockets which are warm on the outside, appliances not functioning properly. But it is better to be safe than sorry, therefore please try to replace the wiring if you do not want to be caught in a fire.
Solution of Aluminum wiring:
Well the safest option in this case is quite obvious, you will have to replace the wiring system of the house. However, this is not only an expensive procedure but it also gets messy since the contractors have to cut through walls to change the entire system. The other option is to reconnect all of the splices with a copper to aluminum connector, which is both cheap and it will reduce the risk by a great margin.But just to be on the safe side get an electrical contractor to inspect the wiring of the house and he will give you the best option depending on the condition of the wiring system.