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Poor Connections Can Fire Up Home Wiring Worries

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RALEIGH — Nearly 200,000 homes burn each year because of faulty electrical wiring. In most cases, there were warning signs. The key is to know what to look for.

Is there a fire hazard hidden behind your walls? TheConsumer Product Safety Commissionreports that aluminum wiring in some homes is a potential danger.

If your house was built between 1973 and 1976, there's a good chance your home has aluminum wiring. How do you check for it and if you have it what should you do?

"If you want to check to aluminum wire, the first thing you do is to make sure the is circuit de-energized. You'll need to remove the cover plate and then your mounting screws," says Gary Randall, the former chief electrical inspector for Raleigh.

Randall, who now teaches at Wake Tech, points out an example of a receptacle wired with aluminum.

"You'll notice the silver color of the wire. But notice the burn on the insulation," he says.

And if you find aluminum wiring, what should do you do next? Is it necessary to totally re-wire your home?

"Oh, absolutely not. Absolutely no need to remove the aluminum wiring. The thing to do is to make sure everything is terminated properly."

That means having good, solid connections.

"A loose connection generates heat, and of course, if it gets hot enough, it will ignite and cause a fire," he says.

Randall says aluminum wiring in and of itself is not a fire hazard. It is all about connections.

Flickering lights or warm switches are some warning signs of faulty connections. If you notice them in your house, call an electrician and set up an inspection.


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