In recent years there have been concerns regarding aluminum wiring found particularly in homes built between the mid 1960 and the 1970s.
Why the need for concern?
Reported problems with aluminum wire have been related to the overheating and failure of aluminum wiring terminators. This is due to aluminium tendency to oxidize and its incompatibility with devices designed for use with copper wiring. Because of the incompatibility with the fittings and improper connections this can lead to electrical resistance, resulting in in overheating and fire.
Aluminum wire once heated, expands more than copper. The repeat process of expansion and contraction can cause the wire to creep out from under the terminal screws that hold the wire in place. This results in loose connections, arcing, melting and again, fire.
Signs to look for:
Warm cover plates, discoloration of switches or receptacles, flickering lights and the smell of hot plastic insulation.
Refusal of Home Insurance:
Many home insurance companies are refusing to provide or renew insurance coverage on such properties unless the wiring is inspected, repaired as necessary, inspected by ESA (Electrical Safety Authority) and a copy of the certificate of inspection is provided to the insurer. In some cases the insurer may require replacement of the wire with copper wiring.
Some homes can have a mixture of aluminum and copper wiring.
An assessment of the home would have to be conducted. The Electrical Safety Authority recommends contacting a licensed electrical contractor who is knowledgeable in the special techniques required for working with and repairing aluminum wiring. Once the home has been assessed and the necessary repairs have been carried out, the home will be inspected by ESA.