Should I replace my aluminum wiring with copper?
Aluminum wiring is no longer used in housing electrical systems, because it has been linked to fires. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an estimated two million homes in the United States were built or renovated using electrical circuits with aluminum wiring. In particular, some homes built or renovated between 1965 and 1973 may have had aluminum wiring installed to feed branch circuits that run from the main electrical panel to the outlets and lighting fixtures.
The best way to determine whether a home has aluminum wiring is to hire a professional. A homeowner may be able to identify an aluminum-wired system by looking at the cables that run through the basement or attic to see if the cable is labeled "AL" or Aluminum.
If a home does have aluminum wiring, the CPSC recommends two actions.
- Complete replacement of the system. This may be too expensive for many homeowners, as it can cost $8,000 or more.
- Replace every connection in every outlet, switch and junction box with a copper pigtail using a special Copalum connection — a short piece of copper wire is bonded to the aluminum wire using a tool designed specifically for the task. The copper wire makes the connection. It may be difficult to find an electrician to make a Copalum repair. Information about certified contractors is available through Tyco at (800) 522-6752.
CPSC Aluminum Wiring Fact Sheet
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