May Is National Electrical Safety Month: Good News for Homeowners - Aluminum
Wiring Fix Still Available
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
May 1, 2003
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
announced today that Tyco Electronics Corp., of Harrisburg, Pa., has agreed to
continue offering the COPALUM connector repair system until at least 2005 for
homes with aluminum wiring. The COPALUM repair system has benefited tens of
thousands of consumers by reducing the risks of dangerous overheating and fire
that can be caused by failing aluminum wiring connections. It is estimated that
2 million homes were built with aluminum wire between 1965 and 1973.
Warning signs, such as warm-to-the-touch face plates on outlets or switches,
flickering lights, circuits that don't work, or the smell of burning plastics,
can indicate a fire hazard within 15- and 20-ampere aluminum wiring circuits. A
failure in the circuits can lead to electrical arcing and a serious fire, which
can spread within the walls of a home before being detected.
The COPALUM crimp connector, which has been available for more than 20 years, is
the only system recognized by CPSC that provides a complete and permanent repair
and reduces the fire hazard in aluminum wire circuits. The COPALUM connector
system attaches a copper wire to the old aluminum wires and is then crimped
together with a power tool, achieving a "cold weld" between the conductors. The
"cold weld" creates a permanent bond that eliminates electrical arcing or
glowing connections and creates a safer electrical connection at outlets,
switches, lights, circuit breakers, and panelboard terminals. The COPALUM
connector repair materials and power crimping tools are only available to
electricians who receive training from the manufacturer, to ensure that repairs
are properly made.
"CPSC appreciates Tyco's commitment to protecting the safety of consumers by
continuing to offer COPALUM connectors," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton.
"Without the Tyco Electronics system, the only method for safely upgrading
aluminum wiring systems would be to install new copper circuits, which is often
impractical for consumers."
CPSC believes that "twist-on" connectors, receptacles and switches and other
devices that connect directly to aluminum wires, are an inadequate solution. The
COPALUM crimp connector system provides a safe, permanent fix.
If homeowners are not certain whether their home has aluminum branch circuit
wiring, they can look at the markings on the surface of the electric cables
which may be visible in unfinished basements, attics or garages. Aluminum wiring
will have "Al" or "Aluminum" marked every few feet along the cable. A home
inspector or qualified electrician also can assist in identifying aluminum
wiring. CPSC advises that consumers should not open the interior of the
panelboard or circuit breaker compartment - this can expose live wires and pose
an electrocution hazard.
COPALUM connectors are available from Tyco Electronics under the AMP brand.
Consumers can check to see if the COPALUM connector system is available in their
area by calling the company at (800) 522-6752. To order a list of authorized
electricians in their area, consumers can write to: Tyco Electronics Corp.,
Attn: Aluminum Wire Repair Program, P.O. Box 3608, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3608. If
no authorized electrician is currently located nearby, consumers can have an
electrician interested in repairing their home contact the nearest supplier of
AMP- brand COPALUM connectors for training and other repair information.
For more information about aluminum wiring and the crimp connector system, see "Repairing Aluminum Wiring"
(pdf). Consumers can also obtain a free copy of this booklet by writing to CPSC,
Washington, DC 20207.
Send the link for this page to a friend! The
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public
from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types
of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries and
property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $700
billion annually. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families
from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or
can injure children. The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products -
such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals -
contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and
injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's
hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or visit
CPSC's web site at
www.cpsc.gov/talk.html. Consumers can obtain this release and recall
information at CPSC's Web site at www.cpsc.gov.