As a homeowner, ensuring the safety of your home is a top priority. One of the key safety concerns for any house is the electrical wiring system. While aluminum wiring to larger appliances, such as the stove, electric range, dryer, or main wires to the electrical panel may seem normal, there is a significant danger when it comes to outlets (switch outlets, receptacle outlets, and ceiling outlets—light fixtures). In this blog post, we will discuss why aluminum wiring to outlets is not safe and why they need to be replaced as soon as possible.

Copper versus Aluminum wiring


Aluminum wiring to outlets is not okay 🚫

The problem with aluminum wiring to outlets is that they are constantly being used and are subject to repeated plugging and unplugging or switching on and off. Aluminum is a softer metal than copper, so this can cause the wire connections to the outlet to loosen and become a fire hazard.

Loose connections are the leading cause of fires in homes, and you don't want to take any chances with the safety of your family and property.

To avoid the dangers of aluminum wiring in outlets, the only approved method, other than replacing the wire, is to use pigtails. These pigtails must be connected using an approved connector to ensure that the different materials do not erode each other, causing another loose connection. Those specialty connectors cost almost $4.00 each and you need 3 per outlet, so that is $12.00 for each outlet. How many switch outlets, receptacle outlets, and ceiling outlets need to be changed throughout a home? The cost to add approved connectors to every outlet in your home will be very high if you have aluminum wiring throughout. That doesn't count the labor for doing the work. The average hourly charge for an electrician in this area is $200-$300 per hour and it takes 15 minutes of labor to install the proper connectors at each outlet.

Additionally, the box holding the outlet must be large enough for the aluminum/copper splice, so it may need to be replaced as well. It is important to note that even if you are changing a light fixture in a home and it has aluminum wiring to it, you must use the approved connectors and add pigtails for that connection.

Aluminum wiring will oxidize over time, therefore, every single termination must have a specialty paste applied to the aluminum before it is installed. This again adds time and cost when aluminum wring is used instead of copper wiring.

Remember that if you are replacing receptacle outlets in your home, they must be tamper resistant to meet current National Electrical Code. Click here to read more about why you need tamper resistant receptacle outlets in your home.

Examples of outlets that have become fire hazards


Aluminum wiring to large circuits is okay

The use of aluminum wiring for large circuits, electrical panels, and appliances is still seen today, mainly because it is cheaper to purchase than copper. When installing large circuits with long lengths of wire, it is much more expensive to use copper, so aluminum is more often used.

One of the reasons larger items like the dryer or electric range outlet can be wired with aluminum wire is because they are not usually being unplugged and plugged back in every day. With a dryer, for example, you may plug it in once when you move in, and it stays plugged in for the duration of your time living there. It is important to note that even though these large appliances are not as risky, they still require proper installation using approved connections.

Consider hiring a master electrician to make sure everything is done right the first time around!


What to do if you have aluminum wiring to outlets

If you are thinking about buying a home that has aluminum wiring to the outlets, I would encourage you to think twice before buying that house. Having aluminum wiring in your home will increase your insurance rates. Some homeowners ask about re-wiring the entire home to get rid of all the aluminum wiring. That isn't really a feasible option unless you are removing all the drywall and getting down to the wood studs throughout.

If you want a professional to fish new wires into the home without damaging any drywall in order to remove all of the aluminum wiring, it would have to be a single story house and will be extremely labor intensive. Re-wiring an entire home would cost $10,000-$20,000. It might be best to simply find a different home to purchase if the one you are looking at has aluminum wiring to all outlets.

It is important to understand that replacing aluminum wiring can be expensive (in parts, labor, and higher insurance premiums), but it is a critical investment in ensuring the safety of your home. In addition to preventing fires, replacing aluminum wiring can also increase the value of your property since it is a safety hazard that all buyers will look for when considering a purchase. It is better to fix the problem before it becomes too late and costly.

In conclusion, aluminum wiring may seem harmless, especially when used in larger appliances. However, when it comes to the outlets, it becomes a significant fire hazard due to the constant plugging and unplugging causing loose connections. The only approved method of using aluminum wiring in outlets today is by using pigtails and an approved connector. Replacing aluminum wiring is an investment in the safety of your home and your family. Be sure to consult a professional electrician to assess your home's wiring and recommend the appropriate action to take.

Don't wait until it's too late. Your family and property's safety should always be your top priority.


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