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 verity that appropriate devices are being used. As with all wiring, aluminum 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.
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 electrical contractor check the electrical system immediately to determine the best and securest solution to this safety concern.