Do You Have Unsafe Aluminum Wire in Your Home? Here’s How to Handle it

Aluminum Wire in Houses | Zoom Electricians

If you have aluminum wiring in your home, you may be at risk of an electrical fire. Many houses constructed in the past were wired with aluminum rather than copper because aluminum was cheaper during those times. You do not have to worry about the wiring because aluminum conducts electricity safely. The issue is with the connections of your electrical wiring. You can consult Zoom Electricians for a complete aluminum wire replacement for your home. However, it is better to consider many factors in handling your home’s aluminum wiring.

Aluminum Wire VS. Copper Wire

  • While carrying current, aluminum wires expand more than copper wires. As a result, aluminum wire is more prone to connection failures and electrical problems.
  • Aluminum wires are obsolete. If an electrical accident occurs, your insurance company will make it difficult for you to pass the claim if the wiring is outdated.
  • According to scientific evidence, aluminum wires are more likely to cause a fatal fire accident than copper wires.

How To Identify Aluminum Wiring?

  • First, you can tell the difference by looking at the color.
  • On the wire jacket, Al or Aluminum will be written or embossed.
  • If your current home was built between 1965 and 1973, the wiring is most likely aluminum rather than copper.

Although it is not entirely a bad thing to purchase a home with aluminum wiring, there are safety guidelines you should follow if this is the case for you:

  • Consult a licensed electrician to assist you in inspecting the type of wiring installed in your prospective home. They can assess the extent of the wear and tear and whether some of the installations need to be replaced. They primarily look for any critical issues with the wiring and its aluminum wiring connections.
  • Your next step should be determined by the electrician’s report. If they recommend a replacement, estimate the cost of the entire rewiring. The new copper wires will be run across each branch circuit in this case. Keep in mind that buyers may use this during home negotiations.
  • Overloaded wires are already unsafe on their own. However, it is still important to exercise caution, especially if the home still has aluminum connections. Under normal conditions, aluminum overheats due to constant expansion and contraction. Overloading these wires can be another electrical hazard to look out for.
  • You must be aware of the insurance costs for a home with aluminum wiring. Insurance companies are having difficulty insuring homes with aluminum wiring. 

What should you do about the aluminum wire in the home?

Although house rewiring is the best solution for this type of problem, an electrician can secure the connections by splicing a short section of copper wire to the end of each aluminum wire. However, all electrical fixtures, such as switches, outlets, or other devices, will be wired with copper rather than aluminum.

What Size Aluminum Wire is Recommended for 200 Amp Service?

Aluminum Wire in House Services | Zoom Electricians
What size aluminum wire is recommended for 200 amp service?

If you are installing an underground 200 amp service, you may wonder what size wire to use. For a 200 amp electrical service, a 3′′ conduit requires a #4/0 AWG aluminum/copper-clad wire or a #2/0 AWG copper wire. In most states, hiring an electrician and obtaining certain permits are required to have your wire installed by your local electrical codes.

However, you should always check with your local authorities to see what is required in your area. If your budget allows, we recommend using copper conductors. Copper is superior to aluminum for a variety of reasons. It has been the most widely used type of wire for over 200 years and has withstood the test of time.

Service wire size may differ depending on the distance because you need to maintain a 3% voltage drop. We can look into the factors when choosing to the wire:

  • Copper Wiring

Copper wiring is the best choice in the market. It has resistance to heat, high conductivity, and flexibility, making it ideal for wiring in any situation. On the other hand, copper can be more expensive and require professional help to install. Regardless, it is the safest choice among the rest.

  • Aluminum

Aluminum has lower conductivity than copper and reacts faster to heat and corrosion. You may need a higher gauge or a thicker wire to compensate for the lack of conductivity. Aluminum is also not recommended for most houses nowadays, but you can consult your local electrician for help. The good news is that aluminum wiring requires cheaper installation.

  • Copper Clad Aluminum

Copper-clad aluminum is less expensive than pure copper but more costly than aluminum. The aluminum is protected from corrosion by copper-clad aluminum wire. You also don’t need an antioxidant coating connecting to the power terminal if you’re using copper-clad aluminum wire.

Here are other questions to ask your local electrician during the wiring appointment:

How Much Does it Cost to Install This Service? 

Most of us are only interested in upgrading a 100- to 150-amp service. A 200 amp electrical service upgrade costs between $750 and $2,000. The price range is determined by the amount of wiring required, the extent of the upgrade, and other factors. A complete reset with a new circuit breaker, on the other hand, could cost up to $4,500 or more.

Is it possible to run a 200 Amp Subpanel off the 200 Amp Main?

While this is possible, most professional electricians recommend looking into a 400A service. Check the overall power usage to ensure that the subpanel isn’t consuming the majority of the power.

Remember to research local regulations and permits, and never attempt this without the assistance of a professional! Again, we strongly advise getting a quote from an electrician.

It may not be easy to ensure safe electrical wiring without the assistance of a professional. You may refer to our other blog articles for a more in-depth process of house rewiring. If you’re unsure where to purchase the materials for the types of wiring and repairing projects mentioned above, you can consult our team at Zoom Electricians today.

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