• Why Aluminum Wiring Is So Dangerous and What To Do if You Have It

    Purchasing a new home or maintaining an older one in Nanaimo, Victoria, or Comox Valley involves many considerations, one of which is the type of wiring used in the property. Aluminum wiring, commonly used in homes built between 1965 and 1973, has been a topic of concern due to its potential hazards. This article will explain why aluminum wiring is considered dangerous and what steps you can take if your home has it.

    The Dangers of Aluminum Wiring

    Aluminum wiring was widely used in the 1960s and 1970s as a cheaper alternative to copper. However, several factors make it potentially hazardous:

    1. Higher Electrical Resistance: Aluminum has a higher electrical resistance than copper. This means that more heat is generated in aluminum wires under the same conditions, which can lead to overheating and potential fire hazards.

    2. Expansion and Contraction: Aluminum expands and contracts more than copper with temperature changes. Over time, this can cause connections to loosen, leading to sparking and potential fire risks.

    3. Oxidation: When exposed to oxygen, aluminum forms an oxide layer that is less conductive than the metal itself. This can increase electrical resistance at connection points, leading to overheating.

    4. Less Ductile: Aluminum is less ductile than copper, meaning it can break more easily when bent or stretched. This makes it more susceptible to damage during installation or from building movements.

    Identifying Aluminum Wiring

    Aluminum wiring is easily identifiable due to its colour. If the exposed wire in your electrical system is silvery rather than the reddish colour of copper, it's likely aluminum. Additionally, the plastic wire jacket may have the word "aluminum" or the initials "AL" printed on it.

    What To Do if You Have Aluminum Wiring

    If your home has aluminum wiring, don't panic. Here are some steps you can take:

    1. Get a Professional Inspection: Have a licensed electrician or home inspector with knowledge and experience in dealing with aluminum wiring inspect your home. They can assess the condition of the wiring and connections and recommend appropriate actions.

    2. Consider Rewiring Your Home: The most effective, but also the most expensive solution is to replace the aluminum wiring with copper. This is typically recommended if the wiring is in poor condition.

    3. Use Special Connectors: If rewiring is not an option, another solution is to use special connectors, such as COPALUM crimps, which can safely connect aluminum wires to devices designed for copper.

    4. Regular Maintenance: Regular inspections and maintenance by a qualified electrician can help prevent potential issues from becoming serious problems.


    Is it OK to buy a house with aluminum wiring? Yes, but it's important to have the wiring inspected by a professional and to understand the potential costs of any necessary repairs or replacement.

    Is aluminum wiring really dangerous? Aluminum wiring can pose a fire hazard due to its higher electrical resistance, tendency to expand and contract, and susceptibility to oxidation. However, with proper installation and maintenance, these risks can be managed.

    What is the major problem with aluminum wire? The major problem with aluminum wire is its tendency to oxidize and its expansion and contraction with temperature changes, both of which can lead to loose connections and potential fire hazards.

    How do you make aluminum wiring safe? Aluminum wiring can be made safe through professional inspection, regular maintenance, and the use of special connectors designed for aluminum. In some cases, rewiring the home with copper may be recommended.

    Contact us today for expert guidance when it comes to your home inspections. Call (250) 618-8040.