Was your home built between the mid-1960s and late 1970s? If so, it may have aluminum wiring. Many insurers will not provide or renew insurance coverage on these homes without a certificate from the Electrical Safety Authority (E.S.A). If you need to hire someone to do the repairs, by law it must be a Licensed Electrical Contractor. Pro Trade Electric is fully trained and familiar with aluminum wiring. We first assess the job, provide you with options, and take out any necessary permits with E.S.A. before starting the work.
What's the big Deal with Aluminum wiring?
Aluminum wiring is safe if proper connections and terminations are made, without damaging the wire and devices approved for use with aluminum wire are employed and installed according to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code and the manufacturer’s instructions. The problem is that in the 60s & 70s, those proper methods of installation simply did not exist for residential wiring installations. This is why we are having problems with Aluminum residential wiring today.
How do I know if I have a problem?
Things to watch for are warm cover plates or discolouration of switches or receptacles, signs of arcing within switches or receptacles, flickering lights, or the smell of hot plastic insulation may be evidence of these problems. Why wait for a problem? Aluminum wiring if not looked after can create a fire hazardous situation in your home. It is why most insurance companies now require it to be inspected and corrected.
What are the Facts?
The Ontario Electrical Safety Code (OESC) permits the installation of aluminum wiring as long as adequate precautions are taken on the terminations and splicing of aluminum conductors.
Aluminum wiring is still widely used in many applications today. However, due to its ability to oxidize when cut into, it is no longer used for general-purpose circuitry in our homes that have receptacles, switches, and lights. The problem with Aluminum wiring is that it doesn’t do well when it is spliced or terminated. The wiring through your walls doesn't have this problem, however, when connected to dissimilar metals (copper), without using the proper anti-oxidant and the proper rated devices (CO/ALR device), oxidation occurs, and as a result, the connection can loosen and a gap now occurs. The current flow now starts to jump this gap causing a small arc to occur, creating a great amount of heat which can lead to a fire. Another concern is galvanic corrosion which occurs when two dissimilar metals touch each other. Ever seen a copper water pipe with a steel clip and it has blue and green discolouration around it, this is galvanic corrosion.
So what is the fix? There are three options to fix aluminum wiring in homes.
1. Rewire the home in copper and this is the very best option. However, this can be expensive depending on the size and complexity of the rewire. In most cases, people can choose the other options below which are more budget-friendly and accepted by the E.S.A and Insurance companies.
2. Aluminum Wiring Rejuvenation with Pigtail. Pigtail aluminum to copper with approved wire connectors and anti-oxidant. Connect to lights, plugs, and switches. This option will allow the use of copper-only rated devices such as decorator-style switches and receptacles for a more modern look.
3. Aluminum Wiring Rejuvenation with Aluminum rated devices. Use CO/ALR (Copper/Aluminum) rated switches and receptacles. It should be noted that aluminum-rated devices only come in the standard style. Pigtail aluminum to copper for all lights. Fewer connections and failure points. Also the most budget-friendly.
There is no wrong option above and all will pass inspection from the E.S.A, if done properly. However, each home is different and needs to be individually assessed. If you have aluminum wiring, call Pro Trade Electric today and have a free assessment done on your home. We will provide you with options and you will know the price before we start the work. We will take care of all necessary permits and even schedule the work during your consult, if you decide to proceed.
Kawartha & Harcourt
Pro Trade Electric specializes in residential services. Whether you need a small wiring fix, whole home generator or the installation of a state-of-the-art smart home, we get the job done right! All Pro Trade Electricians are expertly trained, licensed, insured, and local. You can expect a Master Electrician on every house call.
We provide a thorough consultation to explain your available options. With that information, you can choose the scope of work that’s right for your home or business and for your budget. No hidden fees and you will Know The Price before we start the work.
We are here for all your emergency services. A Master Electrician is on standby and we stock spare parts for most jobs.
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We strive to save you both time and money by combining experience, high quality parts and equipment, and exceptional service. We will stick with the job until you are 100% satisfied.