A great conductor until it's not....
Aluminum wiring was used in Alberta homes as a cost-effective alternative to copper from the late 1960’s to the mid-late 1970’s. As a homeowner you are right to be concerned after hearing about the potential disastrous outcomes that can result from aluminum house wiring. But before you panic, it is good to know what the problems and common misconceptions with aluminum wiring are.
The problem with aluminum wiring is not that aluminum wire itself is dangerous.
We still use heavy gauge aluminum wiring in commercial/industrial service feeders etc to this day, and the modern aluminum alloy wire produced today is far more stable than the old stuff that was used in homes.
There are two scenarios to be aware of with the aluminum wiring in your home (assuming you’re here because you made the discovery of that dreaded silver colored stuff in your panel). It is important to understand that the issues are occurring at the connection points, not at the lengths of wire ran thru your walls.
The first issue is called cold flow or “creeping”. This happens over time when the wiring routinely heats up/cools down, causing the aluminum to expand/contract. This instability causes the connection points at plugs, switches, breakers, and busbar terminals to loosen up and eventually these points get very HOT.
The second condition is oxidization, which is a reaction with the metal that eventually forms a white build-up on the outside of the wire. This build-up is a poor conductor and essentially causes a barrier between the wire and the terminal, which also causes HEAT.
These two scenarios are what can cause the horror stories of melting plugs, SURGING that can destroy electronics, and even house fires and larger scale destruction.
With this knowledge you can understand that re-wiring your entire house is not required! These connection points need to be corrected at every plug, switch, and fixture, and your main panel (and applicable sub panels) will need to be addressed. Our electricians are trained to understand, assess, and correct these potential hot-spots so you can sleep easy and comply with the requirements of Home Insurance providers.