Repairing Aluminum Wiring: What You Should Know

Repairing Aluminum Wiring: What You Should Know

Did you know that if your house was built before 1972 and wired with aluminum, you are 55 times more likely to have one or more wire connections at outlets reach “fire hazard conditions” than homes wired with copper?

Don’t just take it from us. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been clear for a long time that aluminum wiring in your home can be hazardous.

And many older homes in D.C.- and Baltimore-area planned communities such as Bowie, Columbia and Reston have aluminum wiring. The good news is that it can replaced or repaired. It’s a service Hawkins Electric — and other electrical companies, of course — offer. If you’re doing some research, here are a few helpful notes about aluminum wiring, safety and repair methods, including COPALUM.

1) Resource: Repairing Aluminum Wiring (pdf) (link:

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

This comprehensive guide details the dangers of household aluminum wiring and provides several methods of repair. On identifying aluminum wiring, it says:
Virtually all of the aluminum wiring was installed as plastic-sheathed cable (typeNM, often called “Romex”) with no readily discernible distinction from a cable with copper conductors. Look at the printed or embossed markings on the outer jacket of the electric cables, which are visible in unfinished basements, attics, or garages. If necessary, use a flashlight shining on the surface at a low angle to help make the embossed markings readable.
The CPSC approves of three methods for a permanent repair.

• Complete replacement of copper cable
• COPALUM method of repair
• Acceptable alternative repair method/AlumiConn connector

The COPALUM repair method, a popular choice for our customers, helps you avoid the hassle of completely rewiring your whole house. Instead, we attach a short section of copper wire (COPALUM) to the ends of the aluminum wire at connection points. This is called “pig-tailing.”
CPSC staff considers pig-tailing with a COPALUM connector to be safe and permanent repair of the existing aluminum wiring. The repair should include every connection or splice involving aluminum wire in the home, including outlets, dimmers, switches, fixtures, appliances, and junction boxes.
Click here (link: for a short video on how an electrician attaches COPALUM connectors.

2. How Much Will It Cost?

Estimating costs is tricky for almost all kinds of home electrical work until a technician visits and inspects the house.

That said, performing a COPALUM repair is a little easier to estimate for us at Hawkins, as we work off set prices for each switch, outlet, recessed light, ceiling fan, etc. As of January 2015, we charge between $65 and $114 per item, plus $414 to repair an electrical panel. Add in a permitting fee of $345 and you will have a good idea of how much you will spend for COPALUM work.

If you’re interested in pricing out a COPALUM job, call us at 1-877-927-0900 or contact us online.

3. Can You Repair Aluminum Wiring Yourself?

We know that doing home repairs yourself can keep costs down and provide a sense of satisfaction. But for most homeowners, handling electrical work is a different story.

As a blogger at Answers About Aluminum Wiring
(link: wrote:

Would I pay to have an electrician do [COPALUM] again? 100% yes! The pig tailing was straightforward but what was not was diagnosing issues that came up because of improperly wired renovations. Each outlet was opened and inspected and some of them had upgraded copper wiring – however it was done incorrectly and I would have never known.
We’ve updated wiring in homes across the Washington-Baltimore area. For a quote, call Hawkins at 1-877-927-0900 or contact us.

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