In the late 1960s and early 1970s an estimated two million homes, including apartments, were built or renovated using aluminum wiring. A U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report investigated numerous hazardous incidents and fires throughout the nation involving aluminum branch circuit wiring. Homes with aluminum branch circuit wiring are 55 times more likely to have one or more wire connections that present a fire hazard, as opposed to copper wiring.
Why is Aluminum Wiring Dangerous?
The reason aluminum wiring is more dangerous than copper wiring is that it expands and contracts at a higher rate, often causing connections to receptacles and switches to become loose, which leads to sparking (arcing). Aluminum also becomes more resistant to electrical current over time, leading to overheating to dangerous levels.
Warning Signs of Hazardous Aluminum Wiring
If your home was built or underwent electrical repairs in the 1960s or 1970s there is a chance it contains faulty aluminum wiring. Although fires can occur without warning, there are often signs that your aluminum wiring is faulty and dangerous. These signs include:
- Sparking outlets (arching)
- Receptacles and switches become hot to the touch
- Lights not working or flickering
- Smell of burning plastic at outlets and switches
Fixes for Aluminum Wiring
Untrained and uneducated repair personnel can often make aluminum wiring even more dangerous. For instance, “pigtailing” copper to aluminum wiring makes the wiring even more dangerous. Also connecting aluminum wiring to “copper only” rated receptacles is equally dangerous. There are only three accepted methods for making aluminum wiring safe:
- Complete replacement of aluminum wiring (safest but most expensive)
- COPALUM method of repair, which is a special method used to join the copper and aluminum wires (See Picture)
- AlumiConn connectors (pigtailing with the use of a special setscrew)
Serious Injury and Death from Aluminum Wiring Hazards
As Memphis, Tennessee apartment fire attorneys, we have seen firsthand the devastating effects of dangerous aluminum wiring. If you suspect a house or apartment fire may have been caused by aluminum wiring, call us today at 901-680-9777.
Since graduating magna cum laude in 2005 from the University of Memphis School of Law, Thomas has helped make a difference in the lives of victims of serious personal injury, wrongful death, and professional negligence. Thomas has extensive trial experience in both state and federal court. Among other victories in the courtroom, Thomas obtained several impressive jury verdicts and settlements
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