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Old 07-24-2012, 12:39 AM   #1
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Aluminum wire


Hi, I did a search and couldn't quite find an answer for this topic. I have a 2700 sp ft home in a Denver suburb. It was built in 1974 and has aluminum branch wiring throughout most of the home. All the branch circuits have been pigtailed with ideal 65 (?) purple wire nuts.

Here's my questions. One, I keep getting conflicting advice from the net, is this an acceptable remedy? It's UL approved so that has to mean something, but plenty of "experts" seem to think these things are death traps, do the professionals have any opinions?

Two, my garage only has one outlet, two lights and has extension cords running to the door openers (I'm well aware of the danger here). I'd like to update the entire garage (I worked for a gc for about 5 years during high school and college and am fairly competent with electrical work). Can I pull power from the existing circuits via pigtail, or should I run new power from the panel?

Thanks in advance for your answers.

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Old 07-24-2012, 01:03 AM   #2
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Aluminum wire


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Originally Posted by greaper007 View Post
Hi, I did a search and couldn't quite find an answer for this topic. I have a 2700 sp ft home in a Denver suburb. It was built in 1974 and has aluminum branch wiring throughout most of the home. All the branch circuits have been pigtailed with ideal 65 (?) purple wire nuts.

I will just ditch that purple 65 wirenuts that is noting but issue and I have ran into quite few were destoryed from loose connections from expanding and contracting so that one of the most common issue.

Note: I will post a photo or duex if I can find more for proper repairs.


Here's my questions. One, I keep getting conflicting advice from the net, is this an acceptable remedy? It's UL approved so that has to mean something, but plenty of "experts" seem to think these things are death traps, do the professionals have any opinions?

They used to be approved but not anymore there as I mention above and I will post a photo of one device and I will post second device which some of the electrician used ( including myself I have that for that purpose )

I think the UL did pull that out but I am not 100 % sure but just hang on that part I think there will be couple other members will chime in with their part so they should know more due I am in France for a quite a while and of course we did have small alum conductors like yours but they are being removed during remodeling.



Two, my garage only has one outlet, two lights and has extension cords running to the door openers (I'm well aware of the danger here). I'd like to update the entire garage (I worked for a gc for about 5 years during high school and college and am fairly competent with electrical work). Can I pull power from the existing circuits via pigtail, or should I run new power from the panel?
Is your garage is exposed or it is attached expossed or enclosed with drywall ? if compelty exposed that is very easy to replace the cable with proper copper conductors.
Thanks in advance for your answers.
For your garage you should have at least one circuit but if attached that is not a issue you can run few circuits from the load centre panel but detached garage this will change the game a bit so let us know which way the garage you have it set up so we can guide ya in correct way.

Also when you do any remodeling once you open up the wall you can able run new cable but you can able fish them in if you don't want to open up the wall up ( expect some small holes to show up so that is expected )

And it will be wise to invest a AFCI breakers if your panel is compareable for it. that will reduce the chance of catching on fire with arcing fault which it is typical with alum conductors.

Just hang on there will be more members can chime in with their answer so just wait.

Here one photo :



here the other verison which I used from time to time.




Just be aware that most case they will take up a bit of room in the juction box so few case end up put in deep junction box or use the " pregant box " which it look like two gang box with one gang opening otherwise I used deep 1900 ( 4X4 junction box ) with single gang mud ring on it.
Merci,
Marc

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The answer will be based on NEC ( National Electrical code ) or CEC ( Cananda Electrical code ) or ECF ( Electrique Code France )

Last edited by frenchelectrican; 07-24-2012 at 01:08 AM. Reason: add second photo and comment
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:18 AM   #3
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Aluminum wire


There is nothing wrong with Aluminium wiring, as long as it has been maintained, and the proper wiring devices have been used (rated for AL/Cu outlets, switches, wire nuts, breakers, etc., no-Ox).
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:13 AM   #4
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Aluminum wire


The Ideal 65's are not considered a permanent fix for aluminum wiring. As far as Gregzolls comment about nothing wrong with aluminum wiring I disagree. He states to use devices rated for AL but there are quite a few devices that aren't even made for AL which makes it extremely difficult to bring a home to todays code requirements without pigtailing copper with the AlumiConn, or Copalum AL/CU connectors.
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:42 AM   #5
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Aluminum wire


I've only run across a problem with aluminum wire twice in my career, but I don't see much small AL wire. Both times it has been with #12 being back stabbed into a receptacle. Had the installer terminated it on the screw termination and tightened it properly, this wouldn't have been an issue.

I've installed larger AL conductors and I've never known of any problems happening. We use penetrox or some other compound on the terminations to minimize potential problems later.

With AL you have to be a little more particular with how you work it. AL breaks easily so you can't score it when you're stripping it. It has a higher resistance than copper. It should never be spliced with copper wire. And you have to be careful when twisting it.
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Old 07-24-2012, 10:45 AM   #6
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Aluminum wire


Thanks for the replies everyone. Once again it would seem there's as many opinions as electricians . It looks like I'll have to proceed with my plan of re-wiring the house myself (a $10000 pro job won't be in budget...ever.). Though even that will have to wait a year or two.

I know the local inspector has the answer for this, but is it possible to pull a permit and work on this slowly? I'll barely have time to work on a room at a time.
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Old 07-24-2012, 10:56 AM   #7
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Aluminum wire


It's your house and your wiring. Who you involve and what you do is completely your choice. If it were a home I planned to live in I would do the re-wire myself. Like Julie said. Its the connections between AL and CU that is the issue. Terminating directly to AL/CU devices is another option. You can buy devices rated for AL/CU. I think?
I am an electrician and would slowly at my pace do a section of the house in new CU wire. This is a personal choice and you are not required to follow it. It was compliant when installed and is compliant today, because it was compliant when installed.
As far as feeders and services, AL wire is just fine and economical.
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Old 07-24-2012, 11:59 AM   #8
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A complete rewire isn't necessary. What is necessary is to use an approved device when pigtailing the aluminum to copper. You only have 2 choices which is AlumiConn and Copalum. You're wires are already pigtailed with copper from the sounds of it, whomever did the work just cut corners and didn't use the proper approved connections. I'm not sure if J.V. is suggesting you remove the copper pigtails and then terminate to a CU/AL device(which I think he means a CO/ALR)? That is an option for certain things, but all of todays GFCI's require a CU/CuClad connection. In short, you have 3 options when dealing with a home with aluminum wiring. (1) Rewire with copper (2) Copper pigtails with AlumiConn (3) Copper pigtails with Copalum(which can only be done by a certified electrician)
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Old 07-24-2012, 12:06 PM   #9
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Aluminum wire


I agree with J.V. A little off-topic, but the way copper resources are, I'm rather sure that eventually we'll be back to aluminum.
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Old 07-24-2012, 12:20 PM   #10
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Aluminum wire will never be used for the small branch wire circuits ever again. If anything, the use of Copper Clad will become more popular in the US as it already is in China and other countries...
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Old 07-24-2012, 12:44 PM   #11
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Aluminum wire


Most municipalities around here require some work to be done within 90 days or so or the permit will become void and you have to reapply. As long as you call the inspector back within that timeframe and some work has been done, the permit remains active.

But as you said, you can get the correct answer from your local inspector.

I have to ask though, if the AL wiring isn't creating any problems for you, why are you going to tackle rewiring your entire house? Do you know the NEC and local codes? Do you know circuitry? Do you know about balancing neutrals? Do you know how to wire 3 & 4 way switching? Do you know about ampacity, resistance and things like proper wire sizes? Taking on rewiring an entire house, if you don't know EXACTLY what you are doing, can in the end give you more problems than leaving in place a system that isn't broken.

If you are reacting to the AL stigma - Horrible! Dangerous! Get rid of it at all costs! - maybe you want to rethink your plans because it isn't the AL that's the problem, it's the how it was installed.
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Old 07-24-2012, 03:31 PM   #12
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Most municipalities around here require some work to be done within 90 days or so or the permit will become void and you have to reapply. As long as you call the inspector back within that timeframe and some work has been done, the permit remains active.

But as you said, you can get the correct answer from your local inspector.

I have to ask though, if the AL wiring isn't creating any problems for you, why are you going to tackle rewiring your entire house? Do you know the NEC and local codes? Do you know circuitry? Do you know about balancing neutrals? Do you know how to wire 3 & 4 way switching? Do you know about ampacity, resistance and things like proper wire sizes? Taking on rewiring an entire house, if you don't know EXACTLY what you are doing, can in the end give you more problems than leaving in place a system that isn't broken.

If you are reacting to the AL stigma - Horrible! Dangerous! Get rid of it at all costs! - maybe you want to rethink your plans because it isn't the AL that's the problem, it's the how it was installed.
I've rewired sections of houses before, but I've never tackled an entire house. I know how to perform 90% of what you mentioned and as we used to say in my flight instructor days "I know where to look up the rest."

I'm tempted to let sleeping dogs lie, but then I'm also aware of the problems with oxidation of aluminum over time especially with regards to dissimilar metals, and at 38 years old I'm starting to worry about the wire behind the walls.

The home inspector suggested we have an electrician check out the wire prior to the sale, and he seemed satisfied with the pig tails. Would you suggest another product? I like the product which features the bus bar but I think I'd start to run into box fill issues.
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:01 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by CopperClad View Post
Aluminum wire will never be used for the small branch wire circuits ever again. If anything, the use of Copper Clad will become more popular in the US as it already is in China and other countries...
Sure it will, the aluminum of yesteryears used less than adequate alloys, That was half the problem, now a days, aluminum would suffice perfectly in todays installations.
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:34 PM   #14
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For settting priorities you can find problem areas with a DMM and a heavy load like a toaster but you need to the know the wire gauge and you need to estimate the distance back to the panel.
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:11 PM   #15
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For settting priorities you can find problem areas with a DMM and a heavy load like a toaster but you need to the know the wire gauge and you need to estimate the distance back to the panel.
True. The kitchen was remodeled a few years before we moved in, and that's really the only heavy load area besides the garage. I think I might check out the bus bars.

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