How to Properly Repair Aluminum Wire

Typical household wiring devices (receptacle outlets, light switches, etc.) do not usually use aluminum wire. This is because a house with aluminum wiring is at a higher risk of dangerous fires at the outlet. However, some older houses, such as those built in the 1960s and 70s, do have aluminum wiring instead of copper. The more aged your home's aluminum wiring is, the more likely it is to need repair.

Inspecting Aluminum Wire for Damage

Unfortunately, aluminum electrical wires rarely show obvious signs of deterioration. However, if you detect any of the following signs, you potentially have an aluminum wiring problem.

  • Hot to the touch electrical outlet or light switches
  • Malfunctioning electrical circuit
  • Flickering lights
  • The smell of burning plastic at electrical receptacles
Aluminum Wiring

In the case of any of these, you should contact a licensed electrician to address the issue. Attempting to fix wiring yourself without proper training could cause electrical shocks or fires.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) only recommends the following three methods to fix aluminum wire problems permanently:

  1. Completely replace your home with copper wire
  2. Connect the aluminum wire ends with special crimp COPALUM connectors
  3. Connect the aluminum wire ends with aluminum to copper AlumiConn wire lug connectors
Aluminum Wiring

Techniques for Repairing Aluminum Copper Wire

Rewiring your entire home with copper wire can be quite costly and impractical. COPALUM and AlumiConn's methods are the most cost-effective ways to fix your aluminum wires.

Both of these methods involve attaching a copper wire to the end of an aluminum wire. Electricians do this by using either a special COPALUM crimp connector or an AlumiConn wire lug connector. This process is often referred to as pigtailing.

The repair needs to cover all connections or splices in the home. This includes electrical outlets, light switches, GFCIs, appliances, light fixtures, and junction boxes. Once such a repair is complete, standard copper wiring devices can safely connect to your electrical system.

The COPALUM Method:

This method can only be administrated by a COPALUM certified electrician who has been trained by crimping die manufacturer. Unfortunately, the specialized tools will not be available to you unless you have been trained by the manufacturer.

The AlumiConn Method:

This method is the most accessible and cost-effective solution to repairing aluminum wiring issues. Unlike the COPALUM method, any certified electrician can repair your aluminum wires with AlumiConn connectors.

The process consists of using a setscrew type wire lug instead of a COPALUM crimp connector. For successful connections between aluminum and copper wiring devices, you must use these wire lug aluminum wire connectors. This includes connections between electrical equipment and light fixtures.

CPSC also highly recommends that you DO NOT address your aluminum wire problems with the following methods:

  • DO NOT USE common
    hand crimped connectors.
  • DO NOT connect wires with any hand twist-on wire nut connectors.

Electricians occasionally recommend these two methods, as they tend to be cheaper alternatives. However, they do not address the overheating problems that aluminum has.

Shop HomElectrical to find AlumiConn aluminum to copper lugs and a wide selection of other essential electrical repair components. Equip yourself with the best to make your repair process smooth and reliable. Remember, a well-maintained electrical system is the heart of a safe home.

Wattson Lumen
Wattson Lumen

As a Georgia-born, amped up electrical supplies enthusiast, international Popstar, and unqualified lifequard, Wattson prefers to lighten your day with humor and led lights (Just don't ask him to jump in if you're drowning).

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