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Westridge > Home Services > Aluminum Wiring

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'Do I Have Aluminum Wiring in My Home?'

Many communities in Calgary and surrounding areas were built during the mid 60's and mid 70's when aluminum wiring was still being used.

Southern Calgary communities affected include Braeside, Cedar Brae, Oakridge, Pump Hill, Palliser, Bayview, Willow Park, Canyon Meadows, Bonavista, Queensland and Parkland.

Okotoks communities built during this time include Central Heights and Rosemont .

Symptoms of aluminum wiring include:

  • Persistent, but intermittent flickering of lights that can't be traced to a failing bulb or the start of an appliance? 
  • Unusual static on radio, TV or the computer? 
  • Cover plates on switches and receptacles that are warm to the touch? 
  • Strange odour (burning plastic) in a particular area? 
  • Circuit breakers (or fuses) that trip for no reason? 
  • Smoke?
  • Sizzling or crackling sound?

If you are unsure about whether your home may be affected, call us to book a home inspection.

 

'Why is Aluminum Wiring Dangerous?'

Because aluminum and copper expand and contract differently, overheating of aluminum conductors may occur at switches, receptacles, splices, and pigtails. This can cause electrical failure or fire.

Creep

When aluminum conductors are subjected to a constant stress, the aluminum has a tendency to creep away from the stressed area. The rate of creep will increase with an increase in temperature. The creep will continue until the stress is equal to the ultimate strength of the aluminum itself. Therefore when an aluminum conductor is wrapped around a screw terminal of a switch or receptacle, the aluminum has a tendency to creep away from the screw, causing a high resistance termination.

Oxidation

Aluminum oxides are thin films that begin to form on the surface of aluminum with in a matter of seconds after the bare metal is exposed to the atmosphere. Unlike copper oxides, which are conductive, aluminum oxides have high dialectic strength (not conductive). A good aluminum termination requires that these oxides be removed during the termination process and that new oxides be prevented from forming.

Thermal Expansion

Aluminum, copper, and steel have different coefficients (expand at different temp at different rates) of thermal expansion. When a copper-to-aluminum or aluminum-to-aluminum splice is made in a twist on wire nut and heated, the aluminum will expand more than the copper or steel. As the joint cools, the aluminum shrinks, causing an increase in resistance due to a loss in contact pressure of the wire nut.

Galvanic Corrosion

Galvanic corrosion occurs when two dissimilar metals, such as aluminum and copper, are joined together and an electrical current is passed through them. This galvanic corrosion is caused by the copper and aluminum having a large difference in galvanic potential between them. The rate of galvanic corrosion may be limited or reduced by plating one or both of the two metals with a metal of intermediate potential, such as tin.

Tough to Insure

It is also getting tougher to get insurance for a home with aluminum wiring. Insurance companies are increasing premiums for these homes, or requesting a detailed safety inspection prior to insuring aluminum-wired homes.

 

'How Does Westridge Fix It?'

The best way to deal with the problem of aluminum wiring is to replace it with copper wire. This is also the most expensive choice, but we can minimize drywall damage by carefully fishing in new wires. In fact, we have specialists with years of experience doing just this while keeping wall damage to a minimum.

'What if Re-wiring is not possible?'

The next best solution is to rejuvenate your connections with a product called Copalum. Westridge Electric is one of two operations in Canada certified to do this. If total rewiring is not an option, Copalum treatment is a worthwhile choice. Watch our installation video to see how we install Copalum.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSTlBWGu3pM