How Much Does It Cost to Repair or Replace Aluminum Wiring?
April 10, 2018
If your home has aluminum wiring, you should definitely consider repairing or replacing it. Why? Well, aluminum wiring easily and frequently overheats, which is a huge risk for electrical fires.
But how much does it cost to “fix” aluminum wiring? Well, it depends on whether you decide to repair or replace it:
- The cost to repair aluminum wiring: $85 to $200 per outlet
- The cost to replace aluminum wiring: $300 to $500+ per outlet
In this article, we’ll explain
- The differences between repairing and replacing aluminum wiring
- Two approved “repair” methods: COPALUM & AlumiConn
Need a quote for your project? Just contact us—we’ll send over an electrician who can provide various repair/replacement options and upfront pricing.
Should I repair or replace my aluminum wiring?
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), replacing aluminum wire completely is the most permanent solution because it removes the primary cause of the fire hazard: the aluminum wire itself.
- The bad news? Replacing aluminum wiring is an extremely expensive project, which prevents most homeowners from choosing this option.
- The good news? Certain repair methods are much cheaper and are considered to be just as safe and permanent as complete replacement.
You see, aluminum wiring has only been found to overheat at electrical “connections”, i.e. outlets, dimmers, switches, fixtures, appliances, junction boxes, etc.
So, while completely replacing aluminum wires obviously prevents fire hazards (aluminum wires can’t overheat if they’re not there, right?), “repairing” just the electrical connections (the actual problem spots) is an equally safe, permanent and cost-effective alternative to replacement.
Let’s take a closer look at what it means to replace aluminum wire vs just repair it...
Replacing aluminum wiring
“Replacing” aluminum wiring requires completely removing aluminum wiring throughout the house and replacing it with copper cable (the aluminum wiring is usually just left abandoned inside the walls).
Because almost all electrical wiring runs between walls, this method is time-consuming and requires cutting holes in the walls, leading to costly repairs.
Repairing aluminum wiring
“Repairing” aluminum wiring means an electrician simply attaches a short section of copper cable to the end of the aluminum wire at every connection point in your home. This process is called “pigtailing.”
With this process, copper cable, instead of aluminum, connects to electrical devices. Since copper is sturdier and far less likely to overheat and breakdown, this prevents overheating. And, since the electrician doesn’t have to remove any existing aluminum wires, this method is cheaper, cleaner and faster.
But remember: only certain repair methods are approved by the CPSC as a safe alternative to complete rewiring. Let’s take a look at those two CPSC-approved repair methods…
Repairing aluminum wiring: COPALUM vs AlumiConn
COPALUM and AlumiConn are both types of “connectors” (devices that attach the aluminum wiring to copper wiring).
- COPALUM connectors basically weld the aluminum wire to the copper wire using a special “crimping” tool. Because the process includes power tools, this connection method usually takes longer and requires a tech that has been trained and certified by COPALUM.
- AlumiConn connectors keep the aluminum and copper wires separate but connected via a tin-plated aluminum block. Keeping the wires separated prevents the possibility of electrical fires because copper and aluminum, when connected, expand/contract at different rates, leading to loose connections and overheating. For added security, AlumiConn connectors also come prefilled with a special solution that prevents the old aluminum wiring from corroding.
Our suggestion on which method to choose? AlumiConn.
Why? Well, AlumiConn is just as effective, safe and permanent as COPALUM but it’s also cheaper. That’s because COPALUM connectors can only be installed by a “COPALUM-certified” technician and these techs may not be available in your area.
The bottom line: COPALUM isn’t more expensive because it’s a “better” solution. It’s more expensive due to the lack of techs who can install these connections.
Have more questions? Ask a Denver electrician
Ready to repair or replace your aluminum wiring? Our electricians are ready to help.
Just contact us and we’ll inspect your home and provide various solutions—all with fair, upfront pricing.