Downfalls of Aluminum Wiring
Aluminum wiring is a type of electrical wiring that was commonly used in residential and commercial buildings in the 1960s and 1970s. While it was once thought to be a safe and cost-effective alternative to copper wiring, it has since been found to be a significant safety hazard. In this article, we will explore the dangers of aluminum wiring and discuss the option of copper pigtailing as a solution to the problem.
One of the biggest dangers of aluminum wiring is its tendency to overheat and cause fires. Unlike copper, which has a high melting point, aluminum has a lower melting point and is more prone to overheating when carrying electrical current. This can lead to the formation of hot spots, where the wiring becomes so hot that it can ignite surrounding materials, such as wood framing or insulation.
In addition to the potential for fires, aluminum wiring is also more susceptible to loose connections and "arc faults," which are electrical discharges that can cause sparks and potentially ignite a fire. These issues are made worse by the fact that aluminum wiring expands and contracts more than copper wiring, which can cause connections to loosen over time.
Another concern with aluminum wiring is its potential to corrode. When aluminum comes into contact with certain materials, such as steel screws or certain types of electrical devices, it can oxidize and corrode. This corrosion can lead to increased resistance in the wiring, causing it to heat up and potentially create a fire hazard.
One solution to the problem of aluminum wiring is to use a technique known as "copper pigtailing." This involves splicing a short piece of copper wire to the end of the aluminum wiring, and then connecting the device or outlet to the copper wire. This creates a strong, secure connection that is less likely to loosen or corrode, reducing the risk of fires and other hazards.
While copper pigtailing can be an effective solution, it should only be performed by a qualified electrician who has experience working with aluminum wiring. Attempting to do this work yourself can be dangerous and may result in further damage to the wiring or even injury.
In conclusion, aluminum wiring is a significant safety hazard in older buildings. It is prone to overheating, loose connections, and corrosion, which can all lead to fires. If you have aluminum wiring in your building, it is important to have it inspected by a qualified electrician and to address any issues that are found. Copper pigtailing can be an effective solution to the problem, but it should only be performed by a professional. Investing in the safety of your building and its occupants is always worth the cost and effort.