Aluminum wiring was commonly used in homes and buildings in Canada from the 1960s to the early 1970s as a cost-effective alternative to copper wiring. However, it has been found to have several hazards that can lead to electrical fires, injuries, and even death.
The primary hazard associated with aluminum wiring is its tendency to expand and contract with temperature changes. This can cause the wiring to become loose over time, leading to poor connections, overheating, and the potential for electrical fires. Additionally, aluminum wiring has a higher resistance than copper wiring, which can increase the risk of electrical fires and pose a safety hazard.
Common methods of dealing with aluminum wiring in Canada include:
- Retrofitting with copper pigtails: This involves attaching a short length of copper wire to the end of each aluminum wire and connecting the copper wire to the electrical device. This method is effective in reducing the risk of electrical fires.
- Using approved connectors: These are connectors specifically designed for use with aluminum wiring. They are made of materials that are resistant to corrosion and are designed to maintain a tight connection even as the aluminum wire expands and contracts. This method is less expensive than retrofitting with copper pigtails, but it may not be as effective in reducing the risk of electrical fires.
- Complete replacement of aluminum wiring: This involves completely replacing the aluminum wiring with copper wiring. This method is the most effective in reducing the risk of electrical fires, but it can be costly.
It is important to note that these methods do not completely eliminate the hazards associated with aluminum wiring. Homeowners should also take steps to minimize the risk of electrical fires, such as installing smoke detectors, using surge protectors, and avoiding the use of high-wattage appliances on aluminum wiring circuits.
Here are some links to websites that provide detailed information on the hazards of aluminum wiring and how to deal with it:
- Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) - The ESA is a non-profit organization that provides safety information and resources for electrical installations in Ontario. Their website has a page dedicated to aluminum wiring, which includes information on the hazards, common solutions, and guidelines for homeowners and electrical contractors. https://esasafe.com/home-renovation-buying-and-selling/aluminum-wiring/
- Canadian Standards Association (CSA) - The CSA is a non-profit organization that develops safety and performance standards for a variety of products, including electrical wiring. They have developed a standard for aluminum wiring that provides guidelines for the installation, inspection, and maintenance of aluminum wiring systems.
- Homeowner Protection Office (HPO) - The HPO is a government organization that provides information and resources for homeowners in British Columbia. Their website has a page on aluminum wiring that includes information on the hazards, common solutions, and recommendations for homeowners and electrical contractors.
In summary, aluminum wiring can pose several hazards to homeowners, including the risk of electrical fires. Homeowners should take steps to minimize the risk of electrical fires, such as retrofitting with copper pigtails or using approved connectors, and should consult with a qualified electrical contractor to ensure that the work is done safely and in compliance with applicable codes and standards.