Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Aluminum Wire Worries (Answer)

Hey Mike,
The large cable you see on the outside of the house is the service entrance cable. These cables are commonly aluminum, as are many of the 240 amp circuits in the house. These aluminum cables are made up of a number of smaller aluminum wires stranded together to make the larger cable. These wires are considered safe and up to industry standards. They should not be confused with single strand aluminum wire.

While single-strand aluminum wire is not always considered inherently dangerous, it has been attributed with an increased hazard of electrical shorts and fire at the connections. These connections generally are outlets, switches, and lighting circuits. In the main electrical panel, the single strand aluminum wire would be found in the 15 and 20 amp circuit breakers. This wiring is found in homes built between 1962 and 1973. Technology does exist to limit the problems at these connections. It is recommended that a qualified electrician inspect the connections to determine what type of remedy is best for the wiring in question.

The best way to be sure of the presence of single strand aluminum wiring is by having a standard home inspection. If a home inspector reports the presence of single strand aluminum wiring, it is necessary to consult a licensed electrician for further evaluation. A standard home inspection is designed to identify the presence of such things. If issues like this are present, it is important to consult a specialist in this field, to assure your safety.
Thanks for your question.

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