At Home Safety
Even More Safety Tips
Causes of Fire
- Loose Connections: Aluminum wire expansion and contraction cycles cause loose connections and change in shape at screws. Faulty connections can become hot enough to start a fire without tripping a circuit breaker!
- Overheating and Arcing: This occurs at termination of connections or at aluminum/copper wire splices using unapproved connectors.
- Corrosion: If aluminum and copper wires are improperly spliced, corrosion can occur as they are dissimilar metals.
Recognizing Aluminum Wiring
Where wiring is visible in the attic or basement, examine the insulation for markings that indicate the use of aluminum, such as “KAISER”, “ALCAN”, “ALUMINUM”, “AL”, “ALUM”, “AC” or “ACM”.
Upgrading Aluminum Wired Homes
- Rewire: Completely rewire the home with copper. This is strongly recommended as the best and most permanent solution.
- “Pigtailing”: This eliminates the aluminum wire connection to switches and outlets by splicing in a short length of copper wire. A certified connector must be used. A COPALUM crimping system creates a cold weld between copper and aluminum wire and is regarded to be a permanent, maintenance‐free repair.
- CO/ALR Outlets: Replace all outlets and switches with those marked with the letters CO/ALR. This greatly reduces the most frequent failures.
Check All Connections
Regardless of the method chosen for dealing with outlets and switches, the aluminum connections in the circuit breaker panel and at all junction boxes and receptacles should be inspected by a licensed Electrician. At the circuit breaker panel, verify that each aluminum wire is coated with corrosion COPALUM crimp & heat‐shrink tube inhibitor. Have your Electrician apply the specified torque to each screw terminal to make sure it has not loosened over time. When re‐making a connection, remember to abrade the wire to remove the aluminum oxide layer and immediately apply additional corrosion inhibitor before re‐connecting any aluminum wire.