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Old 11-10-2012, 06:31 PM   #1
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


I found out a year ago that I have mostly aluminum wiring in my house. I read recently that's it's dangerous so now I'm thinking I have to replace what's there. The house if close to 40yrs old.

Are there other options besides ripping all the wire out or can I focus on just the twisted connections, outlets, switches and light fixtures and somehow redo them if after inspection problems are evident?

I've read that the branch circuit outlets/switches/fixtures/marret connectors is where the big problem lies and not the wire itself.

So if you have AL wiring then the marrets/outlets/fixtures/switches all need to be AL compatible. But even then you're not out of the woods as there's oxidation issues to contend with. Given the house is 40yrs old I'd be surprised if any of my branch circuits have AL compatible anything.

I live in Canada but I'm guessing that probably won't make much difference other than cost more lol.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Frank


Last edited by frankm1960; 11-11-2012 at 11:35 AM.
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Old 11-10-2012, 07:06 PM   #2
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


You can redo them with special marrettes and a can of nolux both found at home depot. 20 bucks should do your house. It's only dangerous if not done right

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Old 11-10-2012, 08:02 PM   #3
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


I have read up a little more and the biggest problem is poor/incorrect installations. Done right it's safe. But that's like anything.

What I think I need to do is what you said get a box of special marrets and paste but also confirm all the existing terminals are compatible with AL wiring. Also have to check the gauge of the wiring... AL has to heavier gauge than copper to accomodate the same amperage.

So yeah it looks like I don't have to rip the walls all apart which is a relief (assuming the wire gauge checks out ok)

The only other issue is resale... people are not gonna like AL wiring.

Last edited by frankm1960; 11-11-2012 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 11-10-2012, 08:37 PM   #4
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


The paste and the right (brown) wire caps will do the trick. But check every connection and make sure all the devices are AL/CU approved. It will say on them AL/CU.
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Old 11-10-2012, 08:51 PM   #5
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


I don't know if things are different up there, but down here you would purchase the correct wirenuts which have the nolux in them already.

You would use these wirenuts to connect a short copper tail onto the end of the aluminum wire, and use that tail to connect tot he device.

As for why you need to do this, it's not from poor/incorrect installations and there was really no way to do it right that wasn't done. The issue is because the old aluminum that they used wasn't an alloy like is used today and it expanded and contracted quite a bit and became loose under the screw/lug of the device. That loose connection can cause heating or arcing which can lead to a fire.

The wirenuts that you need to use are expensive. If you have any desire to upgrade the electric, do it now so that you can avoid the work and expense of doing the pigtailing and then replacing it later.
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Old 11-10-2012, 08:53 PM   #6
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


Quote:
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The paste and the right (brown) wire caps will do the trick. But check every connection and make sure all the devices are AL/CU approved. It will say on them AL/CU.
What connection would he need to check??
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:05 PM   #7
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


All the connections in the house. They all have aluminum feeds.
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:10 PM   #8
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


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All the connections in the house. They all have aluminum feeds.

It's already done, probably 30 years ago. He is looking for a way to upgrade it. In any way that he remedies the situation, he won't need devices rated for AL.
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:24 PM   #9
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


You don't understand. He asked if he should gut the wiring. He doesn't have to but he should check all the connections. For example, in my house, the connection to the dishwasher actually burned from the heat produced by the oxidation on the connection between the supply wire and the dishwasher wire. A small fire took place inside the connection box.

He needs to check all the connections and make sure all the devices (switches and outlets) are rated AL/CU.
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:28 PM   #10
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


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Originally Posted by Newmarket View Post
You don't understand. He asked if he should gut the wiring. He doesn't have to but he should check all the connections. For example, in my house, the connection to the dishwasher actually burned from the heat produced by the oxidation on the connection between the supply wire and the dishwasher wire. A small fire took place inside the connection box.

He needs to check all the connections and make sure all the devices (switches and outlets) are rated AL/CU.
It doesn't really matter if the devices are rated for AL or not. Aluminum wiring still carries the same danger. He apparently wants to remedy this situation, either by rewiring or pigtailing, neither of which would require him to check the rating of every device in his house.

Again, the device rating means nothing in this situation.
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:36 PM   #11
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


Yes it does matter. Devices that are rated for aluminum, have larger undercut screw terminals to hold the wires more firmly to fight their tendency to expand and contract. The screw terminals are also made from a metal that has similar expansion properties to aluminum so that they expand at the same rate as the wire.

It is also the law according to the electrical code.
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:44 PM   #12
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Newmarket View Post
Yes it does matter. Devices that are rated for aluminum, have larger undercut screw terminals to hold the wires more firmly to fight their tendency to expand and contract. The screw terminals are also made from a metal that has similar expansion properties to aluminum so that they expand at the same rate as the wire.

It is also the law according to the electrical code.
It's gone right over your head multiple times now... It's a shame that you haven't read the original post.
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:51 PM   #13
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


He didn't mention pigtailing anything. He probably doesn't even know what that means. And the salient point is that he doesn't have to do that. He needs only to use the nolox paste and the proper caps and to check to make sure the devices are all rated for aluminum. Pigtailing is a big job and still requires the nolox and the special wire caps anyway. It will also most likely overcrowd his device boxes and they will be out of code for that reason.

One correction: The rating is no longer AL/CU but CO/ALR.
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Old 11-10-2012, 10:13 PM   #14
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Newmarket View Post
He didn't mention pigtailing anything.
Lol, this is laughable...

Here is what he said:

Quote:
Are there other options besides ripping all the wire out or can I focus on just the connections and somehow redo them.

Quote:
He needs only to use the nolox paste and the proper caps and to check to make sure the devices are all rated for aluminum.
And he would still have old aluminum terminated, which is what he doesn't want.

Quote:
Pigtailing is a big job
It's not bigger than pulling out every device to check it's rating as well as every wirenut.
Quote:
and still requires the nolox and the special wire caps anyway.
There is no requirement for nolox.[quote]
Quote:
It will also most likely overcrowd his device boxes and they will be out of code for that reason.
No, it won't.
Quote:
One correction: The rating is no longer AL/CU but CO/ALR.
The rating is CU only. That is what he needs and should have.
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Old 11-10-2012, 10:34 PM   #15
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Aluminum wiring - should I replace it?


Thanks for the input. I have read a bit more and I've learned what pigtailing means

Here's my initial plan based on my reading and the feedback on this thread:

1. Check all devices and connectors for AL compatibility
2. Check all devices for loose connector screws.
3. Check all marets for looseness and any signs of overheating.

I'll be back with more Q I'm sure based on what I find. I won't be doing any changes... strictly checking out and making notes on what I find. I'll likely get an electrician in as well depending on how complicated things get. Mine can't be the only house with AL wiring... I'm in a subdivision so chances are the neighbors likely in the same boat.

Thanks for all the suggestions. Much appreciated.

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