Aluminum wiring has been used for decades as a cost-effective and efficient way to power homes and buildings. However, with any type of wiring, there are certain safety and risk considerations that must be taken into account. This article will explore the history of aluminum wiring usage in Canada, its benefits and risks, regulations, when it stopped being used, and alternatives.
History of Aluminum Wiring Usage in Canada
Aluminum wiring first became popular in Canada in the 1960s and 1970s due to its lower cost compared to copper wiring. It was used primarily in residential and commercial buildings, but was also occasionally used in industrial applications.
Benefits and Risks of Aluminum Wiring
Aluminum wiring has several advantages over copper wiring. It is less expensive, lighter, and easier to work with. Additionally, aluminum wiring can be run in longer lengths than copper wiring, making it ideal for larger buildings or installations.
However, aluminum wiring also carries certain risks. Aluminum is more prone to corrosion, which can cause wires to become brittle and potentially short out. Additionally, aluminum wire connections are not as secure as copper connections, and can come loose over time. Finally, aluminum wiring expands and contracts more than copper wiring, which can lead to loosened connections and possible arcing.
Regulations on Aluminum Wiring in Canada
In response to the risks associated with aluminum wiring, the Canadian government began to regulate its use in the 1980s. The National Building Code of Canada (NBC) was amended in 1985 to require that all aluminum wiring be inspected, tested, and approved by a licensed electrician before being installed. The code also required that all aluminum wiring be replaced with copper wiring if it was found to be unsafe.
The NBC was further amended in 2005 to require that all aluminum wiring be inspected and tested on an annual basis. Additionally, any repairs or replacements must be done by a licensed electrician.
When Did They Stop Using Aluminum Wiring in Canada?
Due to the increased regulations and risks associated with aluminum wiring, its usage in Canada decreased significantly after the mid-1980s. By the late 1990s, aluminum wiring had all but disappeared from new construction and renovations.
The main reason for the decrease in usage was due to the increased risk of electrical fires associated with aluminum wiring. As the risks became more widely known, many building owners opted to replace their existing aluminum wiring with copper wiring. Additionally, insurance companies began to refuse to insure buildings with aluminum wiring, further reducing its usage.
Alternatives to Aluminum Wiring in Canada
Today, copper wiring is the primary choice for new construction and renovations in Canada. Copper wiring is much safer and more reliable than aluminum wiring, making it the preferred option for most projects.
Other alternatives to aluminum wiring include plastic-coated copper wiring and aluminum-clad copper wiring. Plastic-coated copper wiring is slightly more expensive than plain copper wiring, but provides additional protection against corrosion. Aluminum-clad copper wiring is also slightly more expensive than plain copper wiring, but it is even more resistant to corrosion and has better conductivity than plain copper wiring.
Aluminum wiring was once a popular choice for powering homes and buildings in Canada, but due to its potential risks, it has largely been phased out. Regulations have been put in place to ensure that all aluminum wiring is properly inspected and maintained, but the safest choice is still to replace it with copper wiring. For those who are unable to replace their aluminum wiring, regular inspections and maintenance are recommended to ensure safety.