Aluminum Wiring Vancouver: Facts & Solutions

Aluminum Wiring Repairs in Vancouver

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Is Aluminum Wiring Safe?

Aluminum wiring is an acceptable wiring choice if properly installed and used in the proper application.  Problems began to show up where aluminum was used in branch circuit wiring. These are the smaller wires that deliver electricity from the electrical panel to the plugs, switches and lighting fixtures.  Aluminum tends to oxidize when exposed to air, resulting in overheating, and eventual failure at the termination points.  Since aluminum wire is softer and exhibits different electrical characteristics than copper wiring, particular attention is necessary to verify that appropriate devices are being used.  As with all wiring, aluminum wire is safe provided appropriate connections and terminations are made without damaging the wire and with approved materials installed in conformity with the Canadian Electrical Code. Today, stranded aluminum cable is mostly used for main distribution wiring or feeder lines to bring electricity to the home.

When houses are wired with aluminum wiring most insurance companies require a complete electrical safety inspection by a professional and licensed electrical contractor before policies are sold or renewed.  Electrical modifications are generally needed and in some cases, complete rewiring is advised to reduce the risk of a house fire.

How do I Know if my home has Aluminum Wiring?

Houses constructed between the mid-1960’s until the late 1970’s could have aluminum wiring. You might be able to check the wiring yourself. This may be done by looking at the electrical wiring visible, either between the open floor joists, in the basement, up in the attic, or at the service panel, check if the wire is marked with the work ALUMINUM or ALUM, AL, ALUM ACM,  AL ACM.

Some symptoms that may indicate problems with aluminum wiring  are:

• Flickering lights that can’t be traced to a failing bulb or other external cause.

• Plugs that don’t work even with the circuit energized.

• Uncommon static on the radio, TV or computer.

• Switch plates and receptacle covers that are crooked, discolored or warm.

• Circuit breakers or fuses that trip for no evident reason.

• Unusual odor similar to that of burning plastic around switches and receptacles.

• Smoke or sparking close to electrical devices.

If you observe any of these problems, it is important to have a licensed Vancouver electrical contractor check the electrical system immediately to determine the best and securest solution to this safety concern.

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Is there a Solution to my Aluminum wiring problems?

Yes, BC homeowners have three ESA authorized options, when addressing the concerns of aluminum wiring.

 1. Installation of CO/ALR or AL/CU devices only.

It involves replacing all the wall receptacles and switches in the house with ones that are specifically rated for aluminum wiring. “Decora” devices and Tamper Resistant receptacles are not available in a CO / ARC form. Availability is limited to standard devices. This option does not address connections in lighting fixtures.

2. Copper Pigtails with Specialized Connectors.

The most usual method of addressing this problem is bridging a new copper pigtail wire between the existing aluminum wiring and any electrical device. This connection must be done using very special wire connectors along with appropriate anti-oxidant paste to increase conductivity and eliminate corrosion.

3. Complete home rewire using only copper wiring.

Clearly, this is the securest long-term solution to the aluminum wire dilemma. It is the most labor intensive and expensive method, with investments ranging from $7,000 to $20,000 plus, depending on the size of the home. This option would help to protect the value of the home.

All three of these options should be performed by a professional and licensed Vancouver electrical contractor to ensure right installation procedures are strictly followed.

WireChief Electric’s Aluminum Wiring Services in Vancouver:

  • Electrical Safety Inspection.
  • Remedy the problem with a solution tailored to your individual needs.
  • Letter to the Insurance company.

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