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Aluminum Wiring FAQ

Aluminum Wiring FAQ
What is it about aluminum wiring that can be unsafe?

There are basically three reasons why aluminum wiring may be of concern:

1.It has a tendency to oxidize which increases the wire’s resistance resulting in the wire overheating at the receptacle.
2.It is more malleable (softer) than copper and therefore easily nicked.
3.Because of its high thermal expansion, it has a tendency to change shape at the terminal screws and thus become loose or creep off.

When was aluminum wiring used?

Aluminum branch wiring (the wiring feeding the switches, lights and plugs) was used in our area of Escambia County between 1966 and 1974. Some few homes of the time were wired with copper. The larger aluminum feeders, for major appliances, are still in use today.

Is all aluminum wiring a problem?

Aluminum wiring does fail at its points of connection at a higher rate then copper but it is important to point out that aluminum wiring is used extensively in power distribution and in most homes in the United States ,including new homes built today. The problem lies with the branch circuit wiring, those wires feeding power to the switches, lights and plugs throughout your home. The larger aluminum feeders that provide power distribution to panels and large appliances such as heating, A/C and the electric range are still in common use.

Can I purchase home owners insurance if my house is wired with aluminum?

It is getting increasingly difficult to find a company to write an insurance policy if your home has aluminum branch circuits. Citizens Insurance offers two alternatives to rewiring. Both the copalum and alumiconn retro fits. However, it is my understanding that this is a Citizens only approved alternative and the property would still be considered a higher risk with a potentially higher insurance premium. For these reasons we strongly recommend rewiring over any other alternatives.

How much damage will rewiring my home cause?

Minimal to none. Using the techniques that we have pioneered we are able to use the existing wiring as pull wires and this aids us in removing the aluminum branch circuits and replacing it with copper wire to current code. In most cases all the plugs, switches wiring and and wall boxes can be safely removed and replaced without any damage to existing drywall. If however it is necessary to cause a blemish of the drywall , we do any repairs if needed.

Does my entire house need to be rewired?

In most cases no. If the electrical service on the exterior is in good working order and hasn’t been weathered too severely, we can simply clean up the electrical connections, and ground it to current code.The large appliance circuits for the 240volt appliances are usually fine and reused if not weathered, even if made with aluminum, as the problem is with the branch circuits. Often the inside circuit breaker panel will need to be replaced because the older breaker panels will not accommodate the modern Arc Fault breakers that the code requires. So in summary , an aluminum rewire usually involves cleaning up the main service, a new subpanel and rewiring the switches, lights and receptacles.

What can i expect during the rewiring process?

The work usually averages about a room a day, so approximately 5-8 days on a typical home. We do a room at the time with all work complete in the area that we are working by the end of the day. Power is only affected in the room or area in which we are working , so any disturbance to your normal schedule or activities is minimal.

What does it cost to replace the aluminum with copper?

There are of course many factors that decide the cost of a rewire for insurance compliance, but a typical 1400 square foot ranch style home costs about $7,000.00. We do have summer and winter pricing. Just give us a call for a free estimate.