Electrical Fire Hazards

Dishwashers. Refrigerators. Computers. Toasters. Exhaust Fans. Our homes are filled with appliances and electronics, but most of us do not think of them as potential fire hazards.

5 Common Culprits in Residential Electrical Fires

Courtesy of Canada’s Largest Consulting Forensic Engineering and Fire Investigation Firm, Mena Constandi , Forensic Engineer, P.Eng., CFEI

Aluminium Wiring

Barrie has seen an increase in fires in homes with aluminum wiring and advises residents to be aware of the potential hazards associated with this type of wiring.

The Danger of Aluminium Wiring

Aluminum wiring connections have been found to have a very high probability of overheating compared to copper. The wiring expands when heated and, over time, the expanding and contracting can cause the connections to loosen. A loose connection can cause arching between the wires, which can cause a fire in your home. The arching often occurs behind a light fixture or receptacle making it difficult for the homeowner to tell a potential fire is occurring.

These fires often occur when the home handy person decides to perform repairs or change the electrical devices without knowing the dangers associated with aluminum wiring.

What to do if your Home has Aluminum Wiring

The best solution is to re-wire your whole house with copper wiring. However, this can be very expensive. “Pigtailing” is another method, which involves splicing a short length of solid copper wire to each aluminum end. The copper wire “pigtail” is then connected to the circuit breaker, switch or receptacle. Any work conducted with aluminum wiring involves special devices and connections. Problems arise in home improvement projects when improper devices, such as receptacles, are used that are not compatible with aluminum wiring. Copper specific receptacles actually say “CU (copper) wire only” on the back of the unit and also have a cross through the letters “AL” (aluminum).

Aluminum wiring is safe when the connections are maintained every couple of years. Barrie Fire & Emergency Service recommends having a licensed electrician check all of your connections.

Have any electrical work involving aluminum wiring conducted by a licensed electrician. It could mean the difference between life and death.