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PEI electrical inspectors say aluminum is okay


January 14, 2009
By Anthony Capkun

Electrical inspectors in P.E.I. are advising Islanders that aluminum wiring can be safe but must be properly maintained.

Inspectors have received a number of enquiries recently about the safety of aluminum wiring—many calls coming from homeowners considering alternate heat sources, such as portable heaters, electric fireplaces and electric baseboard heating.

Although
not commonly used anymore in residential dwellings, aluminum wiring was
often installed in homes from the mid 1960s until the late 1970s.
Officials in the Electrical Inspection Section of the Department of
Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour say aluminum wiring is both
safe and permitted under the Canadian Electrical Code. However,
inspectors stress the importance of maintaining proper connections and
terminations in older wiring installations.




There
have been some reported problems with aluminum wiring related to
overheating and failure of the terminations. This can happen as the
wiring ages because aluminum has a tendency to oxidize and may not be
compatible with devices designed for use with copper wire. As well,
inspectors caution that, throughout the years, rodents may have used
insulation around the wiring for nests, leaving the wires dangerously
exposed.




Some
homes may contain both aluminum and copper. Inspectors say that anyone
with concerns about the wiring in their home should contact a qualified
electrical contractor who is knowledgeable in working with and
repairing aluminum wiring.




Questions about aluminum wiring in residential dwellings can be directed to a senior electrical inspector at (902) 368-5280.

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