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If you have a large amount of aluminum wiring in your house, you may be at risk of starting a fire. Many homes in Ottawa built between 1965 and 1972 were wired with aluminum instead of copper. The wiring is easy to install, and it isn’t a problem. The dilemma is at the joints. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states that residences with aluminum wiring are 50 times more prone to have fire hazard conditions than houses with copper wiring.
A complete rewiring of your home isn’t practical in most situations. An electrician can safely perform the connections by joining a short section of copper wire to the end of each aluminum wire. The switch, outlet, or another device will get connected using copper instead of aluminum. The CPSC prefers COPALUM connectors, but they require a trained contractor and a unique tool. AlumiConn is another brand that can get used. These connectors can get installed by any electrician but may need existing junction boxes to be replaced with bigger ones to make room for the connectors.
Pigtailling Aluminum to Copper
Pigtailing aluminum wiring involves joining a short length of copper wire to aluminum wire. Attach the copper wire to the electrical device recognized for copper connection. The correct connectors must be used – approved for copper to aluminum connections – and antioxidant compounds. The antioxidant compound gets used to prevent the aluminum from becoming corroded. The color of aluminum gets oxidized over time. It can also cause a loose connection because it contracts and expands more than copper. A loosened or corroded contact can cause heat to melt fixtures and insulation. The electrical resistance is also the source of the overheating. Mismatched fittings can also cause overheating. A loose connection also poses a risk of sparking, which can ignite nearby combustible materials, including insulation and wallpaper.
Aluminum Wiring Safety
Aluminum pigtails are a great way to make your home safer. A DIY attempt at pigtailing aluminum wiring is likely to make matters worse. Ensuring that connections are secure and do their job correctly requires expertise and attention to detail. Aluminum is softer than copper, and careful care is needed to avoid damage such as nicks, cuts, or hairline cracks, which can cause overheating. Special techniques are required to work with aluminum wiring, including wiring pigtails. The antioxidant compound is conductive and should get used sparingly. The removal of excess material is essential. A new outlet box may need to be installed on top of a wall outlet box to accommodate new connectors. Pigtailing an aluminum terminal must be appropriately connected. This is safe as long as the wire is properly secured and connected. The electrical safety authority has approved pigtails for aluminum wiring to make it safe.
We are available for all your aluminum wiring questions.
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