During the 1970’s, aluminum (instead of copper) wiring became quite popular and was extensively used. Since that time, aluminum wiring has been implicated in a number of house fires; however, don’t panic if your house has aluminum wiring. Aluminum wiring, when properly installed, can be just as safe as copper. We suggest that, if you’re considering purchasing a home with aluminum wiring — or have discovered it later — that you have us in your home to check over the wiring for the following things:
Please note that these responses are for general informational purposes only, are not a training tool, and are not a substitute for a professional evaluation or advice. Be sure to contact us directly for individual questions and/or necessary repairs to your home wiring system.
Glossary of Electrician Terms
AccessibleBox / Equipment capable of being serviced without removing finished surfaces
AFCI — Arc-Fault Circuit InterrupterDevice used to sense arcing in a circuit & if present, disconnects power from the source.
Al / CuAl — Aluminum Wiring or Cu — Copper Wiring
AmpacityAmount of current in amps that wiring, devices, or equipment is rated
BondingConnected to establish electrical continuity and conductivity
Branch CircuitThe conductors between the last overcurrent protective device and the outlets or loads.
BX WiringBundles of insulated wires sheathed in a very sturdy metallic “armor.”
ClearanceUsually refers to minimum distances required for electrical equipment
CircuitInterconnection of components to provide an electrical path between two or more components.
Circuit BreakerA protective device used to open a circuit when current exceeds a maximum value. In effect, a reusable fuse.
C.O. DetectorPoisoning with carbon monoxide, a tasteless odorless gas that is a byproduct of combustion. Carbon monoxide acts as a poison by competing with oxygen for binding sites on hemoglobin
Cold Water GroundConductor from main service to water piping for service grounding
ConductorUsually a metallic substance capable of transmitting electricity with little resistance. The best conductor at normal temperature ranges is silver. The most common is copper. Some other recently discovered substances called super conductors actually have zero resistance at extremely low temperatures.
ConduitA plastic or metal channel used to conceal wires or cables from one point to another.
Control WiringWiring not associated with providing power to an electrical device used to control its operation
CurrentThe flow of electricity commonly measured in amperes.
DeviceA component or part. Usually referring to a switch or receptacle
Disconnecting MeansA device, or group of devices, or other means by which the conductors of a circuit can be disconnected from their source of supply
Double TappedWhen two wires are connected under one screw or terminal inside an electric panel.
DrawAmount of current under use at circuits end.
EfficiencyThe amount of power delivered to the load of an amplifier as a percentage of the power required from the power supply.
ElectricityThe flow of electrons through a conductor
EnclosureThe case or housing of apparatus surrounding an installation to prevent personnel from accidentally contacting energized parts or to protect the equipment from physical damage.
EnergyThe capacity for, or the ability to do, mechanical work. Electrical energy is measured in kilowatt-hours for billing purposes.
FaultA short circuit.
FeederCircuit conductors between the service equipment and the last downstream branch circuit overcurrent protective device.
Footer GroundConductor from main service to the homes footing for service grounding
FuseA protective device in the current path that melts or breaks when current exceeds a predetermined maximum value
GradeIn construction, referring to a specific exterior area being at a permanent level / height
Ground RodA metal rod (typically 5/8 inch diameter) that is driven into the earth (typically 8 feet deep) and is mechanically connected to the grounding conductor
GroundAn intentional or accidental conducting path between an electrical system or circuit and the earth or some conducting body acting in place of the earth. A ground is often used as the common wiring point or reference in a circuit.
GFI / GFCI — Ground Fault Circuit InterrupterA device designed to interrupt the flow of power when a minuscule imbalance is detected between the flow and return of current.
Hot SpotReferring to an area that is warmer than ambient surroundings and / or operating at temperature hotter than recommended.
IC Rated Recess Light FixtureIC rated recess light housing is designed for installation in areas where direct contact with building insulation is permitted.
IsolatedWhen a non conducting material is used to isolate conducting materials from one another.
Junction BoxA box containing splices in cables. Has a removable cover that must be accessible (cannot be buried in ceilings and walls).
KO FillerA partially prepunched opening in a box that is removed to allow the entry of cable. A knockout that is mistakenly opened or is open because a cable is removed must be filled with a knockout seal.
KWUnit of power equal to 1000 watts. Abbreviation for kilowatt
ListedAn electrical device or material that has been tested by a recognized organization and shown to meet appropriate standards. Many local governmental authorities require that installed electrical products be listed. A well-known listing organization is Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
LoadA device which consumes electrical power and is connected to a source of electricity.
Main ServiceElectrical service equipment that provides the first means of overcurrent protection of your home
MC WiringBundles of insulated wires sheathed in a very sturdy metallic “armor” with an insulated green grounding conductor
N.E.C.Abbreviation for the National Electrical Code.
NeutralA conductor of an electrical system which usually operates with minimal voltage to ground. Depending on the type of system, it may carry little current or only unbalance current. Systems that have one conductor grounded use the neutral for this purpose.
Neutral ImbalanceHomes circuit breakers should be install such a manner that under normal use, an equal amount of current will be drawn from each of the two electrical phases provided by you power company. If this is not the case, the imbalance of the current of one phase will be carried by the service neutral of the service thereby generating heat and loss of efficiency which equates to higher monthly power company invoicing.
OutletA point on the wiring system at which current is taken to supply utilization equipment
OvercurrentAny current beyond the continuous rated current of the conductor or equipment. This may be value slightly above the rating as in the case of an overload, or may be far above the rating as in the case of a short circuit.
OverloadOperation of electrical equipment above its normal full-load rating or of a conductor above its rated Ampacity. An overload condition will eventually cause dangerous overheating and damage.
PhaseIn electrical engineering, single-phase electric power refers to the distribution of alternating current electric power using a system in which all the voltages of the supply vary in unison.
PowerThe rate at which work is performed or that energy is transferred. Electric power is commonly measured in watts or kilowatts. A power of 746 watts is equivalent to 1 horsepower.
RacewayA plastic or metal channel used to conceal wires or cables from one point to another.
RomexA brand of nonmetallic-sheathed cable.
SECCable for the point where the electrical service enters the house, becoming your responsibility instead of the electric companies.
ServiceThe equipment and conductors that transmit electricity from the utility supply system to the building being served.
Service PanelUsually installed near the service entrance, this panel contains the main switch or breaker to disconnect the house system from the power source as well as circuit breakers
Short CircuitA low resistance connection unintentionally made between points of an electrical circuit which may result in current flow far above normal levels.
SubpanelActs as a waypoint between the main service panel and branch circuits further down the line.
Surge ProtectionA device for limiting surge voltages by discharging or bypassing surge current.
SwitchA device designed to open, close, or both, one or more electrical circuits
TapPoint of termination made prior to the final overcurrent protection device to supply power to alternate load.
Tandem BreakerTandem breakers, often called split breakers or double breakers, provide two separate circuits in the space of a regular sized breaker opening.
Thermal Protector — Recess LightingProvides cutoff off power to fixture lamp due to overheating
TerminalProvision a convenient means of connecting individual electrical wires.
TerminationMaking final connection at the end of a wire or cable
ULUnderwriters Laboratories — a non-profit organization that was established by the insurance industry to test electrical devices for safety.
Under LoadRefers to full operation of existing circuit / s
VoltageThe voltage between two points is a short name for the electrical force that would drive an electric current between those points
Voltage DropA voltage reduction due to impedances between the power source and the load.
WattA unit of power equal to the rate of work represented by a current of one ampere under a pressure of one volt.
W.P. WeatherproofConstructed or protected so that exposure to the weather will not interfere with successful operation
Our AffiliationsBausum & Duckett Electric LLC holds active membership in the following professional and civic organizations:
- Independent Electrical Contractors
- US Green Building Council
- Eastern Shore Building Industry Association
- American Subcontractors Association of Baltimore (ASA)
- Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce
- Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce
- Town of Delmar
- Cat South & Cat North — Technology Craft Advisory Committee
- Associated Builders and Contractors