U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Aluminum Wiring Repair Recommendations

CPSC Publication #516
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Washington DC 20207

On April 28, 1974, two persons died in a home fire in Hampton Bays, New York. Fire officials determined that the fire was caused by a faulty aluminum wire connection at an outlet.

Since that tragic accident, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission staff and other government officials have investigated numerous complaints from homeowners throughout the nation who have had trouble with small gauge aluminum branch circuit wiring. The Commission has also had research conducted that shows that homes wired with aluminum wire manufactured before 1972 (“old technology” aluminum wire) are 55 times more likely to have one or more connections reach “Fire Hazard Conditions” than is a home wired with copper.

The hazard investigated by the Commission staff occurs at connections to old technology aluminum wire, such as at outlets or switches or at major appliances such as dishwashers, furnaces, etc. Corrosion of the metals in the connection, particularly the aluminum wire itself, causes increased resistance to the flow of electric current and that resistance causes overheating.

Homes built before 1965 are unlikely to have aluminum branch circuit wiring. Homes built, rooms added, and circuits rewired or added between 1965 and 1973 may contain aluminum wiring.

In 1972, manufacturers modified both aluminum wire and switches and outlets to improve the performance of aluminum wired connections. Sale of the old style wire, switches and outlets still on dealers’ shelves however, continued after 1972.