During the period between mid 1960 and the early 1970s approximately 2 million homes were built in the US and Canada using aluminum wire. In and of itself, aluminum wire hasn't shown to be terribly problematic. However, when homeowners and electricians alike began intermixing aluminum wire with the more popular copper wire, concerns were raised.
Aluminum-to-Copper Splicing Gets National Attention
At the crux of this issue is a case involving a fire in which 8 people died. The cause of the fire is said to be from faulty electrical connections. This got the attention of the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) as well as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Together they conducted a study and found that homes built with aluminum wire before 1972 were "55 times more likely to have one or more electrical connections reach 'Fire Hazard Conditions' than is a home wired with copper."
The modern family consists of high-tech computer equipment, large appliances, and other high-demand electrical needs tends to draw more electrical load than that of families in the 60s and 70s. And because almost all devices today are sold with copper conductors, it's imperative that homeowners understand the potential danger their electrical system imposes if they intend on splicing these copper wire devices onto their existing aluminum branch circuitry.
What to do about it
Thankfully, there are a number of solutions to solve this potential nightmare. The CPSC considers the best approach is to completely replace the aluminum wire in your home with copper wire; thus eliminating the need to intermix the dissimilar metals. The CPSC's second recommended option is to use a device called COPALUM to cold weld the aluminum-copper termination points. Unfortunately, you must have a certified installer do this, and they are hard to locate. Additionally, most homeowners have found these options impractical and expensive.
The Solution? AlumiConn
Finally a cost effective, complete and permanent solution was introduced. AlumiConn came on the market with four years of research and development under its belt to address this issue head on. Because of its unique lug design, AlumiConn separates the dissimilar metals, thus allowing a safe, complete and permanent repair!
A great source for much more detail about this entire issue can be found by going to: www.Inspect-NY.com
For more information on how to reduce the risk associated with aluminum wire, please read aluminum wire expert Dr. Jesse Aaronstein's article entitled, Reducing the Fire Hazards in Aluminum-Wired Homes [http://www.alcopstore.com/ReducingFire070706.pdf].