The Aluminum Issue
South Florida homeowner, Kevin, has recently received some bad news about the insurance on his home. He’s got an aluminum issue. Like many homeowners in Florida, Kevin needs a wiring repair or replacement before he can put his house on the market.
Between the years 1960 and 1980, aluminum wiring was installed in thousands of homes across Florida. While this seemed like a very efficient plan at the time, most home insurance companies nowadays consider aluminum wiring a fire hazard and are less likely to insure aluminum wired homes before they receive a wiring replacement. Fortunately, as of March 15, 2011, homeowners do not have to completely rewire their homes, they have two alternative, much cheaper, options. But before we take a look at those, let’s start with the basics.
What’s the problem with aluminum wiring?
Contrary to popular belief, aluminum wiring is just as safe as copper when it is installed properly. However, the case against aluminum is that improper installation could lead to some serious damage. The main issue with aluminum wiring is a phenomenon known as “cold creep”. Cold creep refers to the process by which aluminum wire, which is a relatively soft wire, loses its tightness whenever it goes through heating and cooling cycles. What this means is that the gap between the aluminum wiring and the connector gets bigger and bigger with time, resulting in a higher resistance between the connector and the wire. More corrosion forms in the gap and in time, with each load, the heat from the wire may start melting the insulation and possibly ignite the surrounding materials. It is because of this potential hazard that precautions need to be taken when dealing with the wiring repairs of your home.
So, what is the solution?
As approved by the Citizens Property Insurance Corp in 2011, the alternative wiring repairs used to make aluminum wiring safe and insurable are AlumiConn and CopAlum. Both of these methods have proven effective and are considerably cheaper than rewiring an entire home.
- AlumiConn, short for aluminum + connector, is an aluminum to a copper plug connected to existing aluminum wiring at each receptacle. This plug ensures a safe connection and that the wiring runs cooler.
- CopAlum is considered a permanent fix that connects existing aluminum wire to a short piece of copper wire. The copper wire is connected to every aluminum wire in your home which is then connected to the various outlets and switches.
While aluminum wiring is not really the real culprit, faulty installation and lack of maintenance are a cause for concern. If you are unsure whether or not your home has aluminum wiring, our best advice is for you to get it inspected as soon as possible.
For all inspections and aluminum wiring repairs, don’t hesitate to contact us as Art Plumbing AC & Electric. Our licensed electricians guarantee to provide you with nothing less than the best electrical services available in South Florida.