How to Identify Aluminum Wiring? Easy Ways to Know

Aluminum Wiring

Aluminum wiring in a building is relatively simple to spot, but it could pose a fire risk. Do you know how to identify aluminum wiring? If there is an AL, ALUM, or ALUMINUM on the cable jacket, check your electrical panel and the cables that run into the attic and basement.

We’ll look at why it’s important to recognize aluminum wiring, why it’s dangerous, and when to call a professional.

How to Tell If You Have Aluminum Wiring?

Most residential aluminum wiring installed in the mid-1960s and 1970s was plastic-sheathed or cloth cable (NM type wire, otherwise known as “Romex”).

They both resemble copper cables, making it challenging to distinguish between the two.

If you can see the wiring in your home, here are some ways to identify if it’s aluminum:

  • The areas with unfinished basements, attics, or garages will have the most obvious residential wires.
  • Keep an eye out for markings that are printed or embossed on the wires’ outer insulation, or jacket.
  • Use a flashlight to illuminate the wire markings if necessary. Now, at a low angle, shine the light on the surface of the wire jacket.
  • Wires with aluminum conductors will have “Al” or “Aluminum” and other information marked every few feet along its length. On one side of the wire jacket, you can find the markings.
Aluminum Wiring

Other Areas to Check

The below areas should also be paid attention to.

Plumbing Issues

Older homes may also have plumbing issues due to outdated pipe materials like lead, galvanized, and polybutylene. Additional issues include sewer line problems and pipe belly issues. A checkup is advised as well as keeping an eye on these.

Recalled GFCI

Outlets close to water sources have GFCI protection. In 1998 and 2004, there was a recall on the 15 and 20-ampere type HAGF single-pole ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) circuit breakers. It’s possible that the house has these circuit breakers if it was built after 1998.

FPE Panel

In houses, these panels were put in between the 1950s and the 1980s. Unfortunately, a lot of these panels will break down, continue to operate, and jam, which could ignite a fire. As some FPE panels will send electricity to the breakers even when they are off, there have also been electrocutions from them. It is a good idea to look because many homeowners aren’t even aware that they have these in their residences.

Also Read: How to Remove Push-in Wire Connectors?

Why do You need to Know How to Identify Aluminum Wiring?

You must be able to recognize aluminum wiring because it will be costly to replace if you purchase a house with this type of wiring. The wire may also heat up and corrode. This wiring may be found in houses constructed in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

It is a good idea to have an electrician examine the wiring so that a determination can be made regarding whether it requires rewiring or can be fixed.

When to Call a Professional?

If you need assistance identifying the wiring in your home or if you have a suspicion that it is this wiring, call a professional. Additionally, hiring a licensed professional is always advised to ensure that you receive sound advice and that the work is done correctly. Using electricity shouldn’t be taken lightly, so getting professional assistance is crucial.

Final Words

Many homeowners are unaware of how crucial it is to inspect the wiring in the building.

You should have them examined because these could be problems. If the electrician examines the wires and frequently used circuits and determines that there is no safety concern, you can get advice to put off any necessary repairs.

You should still pay attention to this advice each year, as you might need to make repairs later on.

Read More:


When Was Aluminum Wiring Banned?

Aluminum wiring was used in single-family homes for a few years after that, but was completely phased out by the mid-’70s.

Will Aluminum Wiring Pass Inspection?

Most home inspectors will recognize aluminum wiring and advise switching to copper if it has been used. In all domestic electrical wiring systems, copper electrical wires are advised.

What Are the Types of Aluminum Wire?

There are two different types of aluminum wiring that are found in homes: solid and stranded.