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mcvane 01-22-2008 01:45 PM

aluminum wiring in homes
Hi there.

We purchased a resale home from the late 60s that is structurally better than our current house of the 90s, but with a little asterick, our real estate agent said that there is likely aluminum electrical wiring in the house.

Sure enough, after the home inspection, the inspector said that there is about 60% aluminum and that some insurance companies will not insure your house.

I asked a few times and didn't get a straight answer except saying that an electrician should hook up the aluminum wires to special connectors for it to be safe.

To get the REAL answer, I trust this site more than the inspector that we went with.

Does anyone have anything they can mention about aluminum wiring? Is it safe? Is it better if I myself rewire for copper?

Thanks for your help in advance.

handyman78 01-22-2008 03:41 PM

** I'm not an electrician, just know from experience and education **
Aluminum becomes a major issue at outlets, switches and other junction connections. It is still used for service entrance and other large size conductors when prepared properly (to prevent oxidation) and by using the proper connectors. Will some insurers not insure your house? Possibly- that doesn't mean than none will. There are special connectors to adapt aluminum to copper pigtails. There are also special receptacles and switches specific to AL wiring although these are questionable. If it were my house, I would want to examine ALL of the outlets, switches, J-boxes etc. for present damage and begin converting connections. If the wiring were readily accessible, I would consider replacing the aluminum with copper wiring.
Additionally, AL wiring needs larger sized conductors than copper to provide the same amperage.
Just Google for aluminum wiring and you will find a load of information. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) only approves Copalum pigtail connectors using alum and copper wire.

220/221 01-22-2008 05:06 PM

Generally the issue with AL wire is at the devices (switches and outlets).

A lot of times homeowners/handymen will replace devices with standard decvices designed for copper only.

The general recomendation is to "pigtal" all connections with copper wire.

There are only 2 connectors listed "UL approved" for this conection.

One is a wirenut with anti oxident compound in it. The other uses set screws.

In MY OPINION the approved wire nut is just a scam. It appears to be a standard wire nut with anti oxident in it. It is no coincidence that the cost like 5 bucks a piece (compared to 15 cents.)

In MY OPINION a standard wire nut is just as effective with interior outlets if you understand how to install it. The majority of ALL electrical issues are loose connections.

There are tens of millions of connections made with standard wire nuts in service. I have personally seen thousands of them and I have NEVER seen a failure due to the wirenut. I have seen LOTS of AL failures due to loose connections, improper devices and water but not one due simply to the wirenut.

Some time in the 90's, UL changes the heat rating on wirenuts and that somehow bumped them out of the acceptable range for AL wire. for 20 years before that they were considered acceptable.

I would recommend hiring a qualified electrician to do this work. It's not rocket science but it will involve every junction box in the original house.

TheSiege 01-24-2008 09:43 PM

bottom line, if not installed correctly oxidation happens, the junctions heat up and a fire is likely to happen. if installed and pigtailed correctly it will work just fine

BigJimmy 01-25-2008 10:49 AM


Originally Posted by 220/221 (Post 90977)
There are only 2 connectors listed "UL approved" for this conection.

One is a wirenut with anti oxident compound in it. The other uses set screws.

There's another, the COPALUM connector. It's expensive and requires a special tool to apply. It is however UL approved and advocated by the CPSC.

I read quite a bit on the subject a few years ago. At the time, there was quite a bit of discussion (and argument) over the use of the "loaded" wirenuts. Not sure what came of that since I have since abated the little AL wiring that was in my house.


Mablamb 02-02-2008 08:09 PM

I have an aluminum wired house from 67 and it is wonderfully built with raised foundations and hardwood floors throughout. In California I had no problem getting homeowners insurance. The issue is that aluminum expands and contracts more than copper and over many years wire nuts and pigtails work themselves loose at the junction and switch boxes. the loose wires then start to heat up and can cause fires. I have heard of one such fire in our large neighborhood in the last 40 years and that may be within the statistics of cooper wired houses. My next door neighbor is a commercial electrician and he went through his whole house and installed new copper tigtails in each box using special wire nuts made for alluminum to copper contacts. He told me that with proper attention to old switches and recepticles that there is no problem. Now on the other hand, another neighbor of mine had the fire department out one night for a strong electrical smell coming from kitchen recepticle that was smoldering and may have eventually sparked a fire. I actually studied the receptable after the electrician removed it and it did not appear to be the wire connection but the recepticle itself. In the last ten years I have live in my house everytime I work on a room - paint etc - I relplace the old recepticle with new ones made for aluminum wire and have not pigtailed everything as I find it very hard to get all that wire back into the box.

I would recommend checking each and every switch and plug and would not worry to much about it.

nap 02-02-2008 08:51 PM

there is another product but for the life of me I cannot remember the name. Is is available at Lowes. it consists of a very simple device of a port terminal block rated for aluminum or copper connections and comes insulated. It is similar in design to Polaris connectors.

actually there are exactly like Polaris connectors This is a pic of a Polaris connector.

as to aluminum rated devices. I am not aware of any off hand but since I do not run acros this problem, I may just not be aware of something that is there.
I did not find any on a quick look at the Hubbell site.

Alpha Kennybody 02-02-2008 10:10 PM


Originally Posted by nap (Post 94438)
there is another product but for the life of me I cannot remember the name.


Max. Voltage: 300V
Wire Type: Copper/Aluminum, Copper/Copper, Aluminum/Aluminum
Wire Range: Min #18/Max #10
Temperature Rating: 105C
Flammability Rating: V-2
There a few companies that make similar products.

nap 02-02-2008 11:17 PM

that's the one. Thanks.

Kingsmurf 02-03-2008 10:40 AM

I am an electrician . .and there is but one alternative . . .get that hazard out of your house . . .period . .even with the compliant switches and receptacles . . .you have no clue as t how MUCH of the AL's insulation has been burned off inside one of your walls
even if you have yo use "erector set" series 500 WireMold . .get that crap deleted . . .bead end it..completly denergize it as an fire hazard that it is...and start off with copper in appropriate size

on the other end of the home fire the AL wire coupled to an
Linsco /Zinsco panel? . . . .if so get that POS removed and something GE installed

do yourself and family a great service...eliminate this fire hazard ASAP . .heres my emai lif I can assist from remote


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