Is Remediation Necessary for all Aluminum Wiring in Homes: Copper vs Aluminum Wire in 2020
Why is Aluminum Wiring Dangerous: Aluminum Wiring Dangers in the Home
When was aluminum wiring used, you ask? According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Aluminum wiring in homes was prevalent in houses built or manufactured before 1972. These homes have been found to be 55 times more likely to have one or more electrical connections reach “Fire Hazard Condition” than is a home wired throughout with copper wire.
Identifying wiring made of aluminum, you will find wires are of light silvery color and are easily discernible from copper wiring and other metals.
Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, aluminum wire connectors, or copalum connectors, which were for use with aluminum wire have been marked CO/ALR, which stands for copper/aluminum revised.
Aluminum wire may have the word “Aluminum,” or a specific brand name, such as “Kaiser Aluminum,” marked on the wire jacket.
Why Is Aluminum Wiring More Dangerous Than Copper Wiring?
When you run an electrical current through a wire, that wire heats up and undergoes expansion, or essentially swells in size slightly. When you pass a current through an aluminum wire, it undergoes a larger amount of expansion than copper wire does before cooling and returning to its original size.
This repeated and enhanced expansion and contraction that aluminum wiring undergoes, especially at connections i.e. electrical panels, receptacles, light fixtures, and other electrical equipment, can cause the wire lead to creep out of wire nuts and wire terminals. This can, in turn, lead to loose connections at your wire terminations, increasing the chances of fire or other electrical danger.
As aluminum rusts, it creates a chemical known as aluminum oxide, which is a terrible conductor of electricity. This build-up of aluminum oxide doesn’t allow the wire to perform its job properly and can lead to overheating of the circuit. Copper wire does not do this, as the copper oxide that is formed when it rusts is electrically conductive!
How can we Correct the Potentially Dangerous Problem of Single Strand Aluminum Wiring in Homes
Options for correcting aluminum wiring should be evaluated by a qualified electrician who is more experienced in evaluating and correcting electrical safety issues such as buying a house with aluminum wiring. Keep in mind that it is the single strand aluminum wire that we are concerned about, multi-stranded aluminum wire is typically ok.
If you attempt the electrical repairs yourself, you run the risk of encountering a live light fixture, or maybe loose connections at light switches or a frayed or improperly used extension cord accidentally gives you the electrical shock of your life! So please, let a professional electrician handle it, or call your local home inspector to help you diagnose the issue with your electrical circuits.
The CPSC recommends the following two methods for correction of homes with aluminum wiring:
1. Rewire the home with aluminum to copper wire connectors. This only needs to be done where the aluminum wire connects to the main distribution panel. Simply put, the copalum wire connectors safely add a length of copper wire to the ends of the single strand aluminum wire which is then connected back to the distribution panel using the copper wired ends. Below is a great wire connector kit you can find on Amazon quite cheaply!
2. The crimp connector repair consists of attaching a piece of copper wire to the existing aluminum wire branch circuit with a specially designed metal sleeve and crimping tool. You can find a plethora of wire crimp connectors and wire crimp tools online at Amazon.com, at prices that are tough to beat!
Diagnosing Single Strand Aluminum Wire in Houses
If you are at all unsure whether or not your home has a main distribution panel supplied with single-strand aluminum wiring, AND your home was built somewhere in the late 1960s to early 1970s (prime aluminum wire years), contact your local home inspection company to help you diagnose the issue.
What is OSHA – An OSHA Definition and the Importance of Occupational Safety
OSHA is an acronym for a specific agency that operates within the U.S. Department of Labor. This acronym stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA’s mission is to “assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance”.
Simply put, OSHA is the organization that oversees employee/ worker safety and health protection.
There are more than 90 million men and women in America today who spend their days, or nights, on the job. As a country, these men and women are our most valuable resource. And surprisingly, till 1970, no uniform and comprehensive requirements existed for work environment safety and their protection versus health hazards.
In regards to lost production and incomes, medical costs, and disability payment, the burden on the Nation’s commerce was incredible. The human cost was beyond estimations. For this reason, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1979 (the Act) was passed by a bipartisan Congress. This Act every employed male and female in the Nation the possibility of safe and healthy working conditions and to protect our human resources.
Since its creation in 1970, OSHA has cut the work-fatality rate by more than half. Decreases to the general injury and health problem rates in industries where OSHA has concentrated its attention, even the virtual removal of brown lung illness in the textile market. OSHA was likewise responsible for the decrease of trenching and excavation casualties by roughly 35 percent.
OSHA policies are administered through the Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL regulates and imposes more than 180 federal laws. These standards and the guidelines that define them cover many work environment activities for about 10 million employers and 125 million workers.
OSHA Training, OSHA Certification, OSHA Standards, and Employer Coverage in 2019
OSHA covers all staff members and their companies for injury and illness that is work-related under the Federal Government authority. Coverage is given either directly OSHA or through other state programs.
OSHA offers an extensive website at osha.gov that consists of areas committed to federal OSHA training, state programs, small businesses, building, along with interactive eTools to assist companies and their employees.
Likewise, OSHA offers training programs for employees as well as companies to obtain hazard recognition. Presently, some states mandate occupational safety training for specific industries and jobs.
Other Articles of Interest
- How To Calculate The Service Rating Ampacity And Wire Size At Your Main Electrical Panel
- Mold, Mildew, and the Effects of Indoor Air Quality
- What is a Sub Electrical Panel and How is it Different from an Electrical Panel
- Home Electrical Inspections: GFCI, Electrical Wiring, Residential Electrical Services
- Keeping Your Home Healthy: What is Indoor Air Pollution
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