How to Change Residential Outlets & Switches That Have Aluminum Wire


Although aluminum wire does not offer the same conductivity as copper wire, it does save homebuilders money when installing electricity. When replacing an outlet or electrical switch, it is important that you use the proper fasteners to ensure the outlet does not catch fire. New outlets and switches are not designed for use with aluminum, so you will need copper wire and dielectric wire nuts. Dielectric nuts allow you to connect copper and aluminum wiring.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Copper wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • Dielectric wire nuts
  • Turn off the relevant circuit breaker or remove the fuse from the fuse panel.

  • Remove the cover plate screw with a screwdriver and place the plate off to the side.

  • Remove the screws that hold the outlet or switch into the gang box and pull the outlet or switch straight out of the box, stretching the old wires straight out.

  • Straighten out the end of the wires you took off the switch or outlet with pliers.

  • Loosen the screw terminals on each side of the outlet or switch. Make a note of where each wire goes.

  • Cut a 3-inch piece of insulated copper wire for each wire connection on the switch or outlet.

  • Trim ½ inch of insulation off each end of each wire.

  • Place the trimmed end of one wire next to the straightened end of one existing wire and secure the two together with a dielectric wire nut. To do so, turn the wire nut clockwise like a screw. Repeat Steps 7 and 8 for each wire.

  • Bend the stripped ends of each copper wire into a U shape with the pliers and wrap the wire around the appropriate terminal screws on the switch or outlet. Tighten the terminal screws with a screwdriver.

  • Tuck the wires into the gang box and secure the outlet or switch with the supplied screws and screwdriver.

  • Place the cover plate onto the outlet and secure it with the supplied screw and screwdriver.

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