Ever since electricity began to be wired into homes over 100 years ago, copper has been the metal of choice. It is ductile, meaning it is easily drawn into wires. Copper does not readily heat up, which makes it ideal for electrical wiring. Copper has proven that it is incredibly reliable as a building material. However, in the middle of the 1960s, copper prices around the world began to spike. Many people were priced out of the market for large amounts of copper, so they began to use aluminium wiring as a more economical alternative. By the mid-1970s, it was apparent that aluminium was not the ideal solution to this problem. So, if your house was built in the 1960s or 1970s, it might have aluminium wiring. Here’s what you need to know.
Aluminium wiring was installed with exactly the same processes as copper. Typically, it was connected to the electrical panel at one end and a terminal at the other. The behaviour of the wiring is what causes concerns for safety. The problem arises because aluminium and copper expand differently when electricity flows through them. So, when electricians connected copper panels to aluminium wires, they ran the risk of creating a problem. These two metals can expand differently, which could cause the connection to become loose. Loose connections can create sparks, oxidation, and a build-up of heat. Any one of these problems can be a fire hazard. Thankfully, these problems were studied thoroughly and are now understood. An electrical contractor in Perth can tell you if you have aluminium wiring and how to stay safe.
There are two ways to determine if you have aluminium wiring. You can look at the different connections in your house to see if the wires are two different colours, or you can hire a professional. Most people would prefer to hire a professional because messing with electricity can be very dangerous. If your house is determined to have aluminium wiring, you should consider your options. Your electrical engineer can tell you exactly if you’re in some kind of danger. What’s important is that you should not ignore it. Even if the wiring hasn’t caused a single problem in over forty years, that doesn’t mean it’s immune from problems. What sort of mechanical device grows more trustworthy as it gets older?
Your first and the most drastic option is to completely replace all of your wires. This is considered far too expensive for many people and would take far too long. It is an option, though. It’s also the best way to ensure that you are safe. The second option is more do-able and chosen more often. This option is to replace the connections at your outlets with special connections that bond the aluminium to a copper wire that makes the connection. Therefore, they will no longer expand at different rates, and the risk of fire is greatly diminished. This is often the less expensive and time-consuming option. It’s still not cheap, but it’s very necessary if your electrician determines that your house is in danger.
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