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joshxdr 03-05-2011 03:06 PM

Junction box from hell
 
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I looked in my attic and found the junction box from hell. There are three 2-10 aluminum NM cables and three 2-12 copper NM cables all sliced together in once junction box. There are only three wire nuts in the box, one for all six hot wires, one for all six commons, and one for all six grounds. The insulation for the six commons is visibly melted and browned. It is possible that the hot side has heat damage too but it is harder to tell because of the black color. Am I right to be concerned by this? If I was to fix this as a DIY job, what would be the recommended way to do it?

clydesdale 03-05-2011 03:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by joshxdr
I looked in my attic and found the junction box from hell. There are three 2-10 aluminum NM cables and three 2-12 copper NM cables all sliced together in once junction box. There are only three wire nuts in the box, one for all six hot wires, one for all six commons, and one for all six grounds. The insulation for the six commons is visibly melted and browned. It is possible that the hot side has heat damage too but it is harder to tell because of the black color. Am I right to be concerned by this? If I was to fix this as a DIY job, what would be the recommended way to do it?

This is not a DIY fix. Call a licensed electrician experienced with aluminum wiring.

Jim Port 03-05-2011 03:13 PM

Problems: The box is too small for the number of wires inside.
The wire nuts are not for use with aluminum wire.

Do It Right 03-05-2011 03:16 PM

Clyde is right.
If you pull on those splices, the tempered insulation could crack.
You have to use special AL/CU connectors and follow certain steps to terminate AL to CU correctly.
Do yourself a favor and make the call.....

joshxdr 03-05-2011 04:21 PM

I have a lot of experience doing my own electrical work. I have a large supply of Ideal 65 wire nuts. I have discussed what is code for aluminum wire splices with a county inspector. I can't find any information that says installing an Ideal 65 is any different from installing a regular wire nut. You just need to be extra careful not to nick the aluminum wire, and follow the guidelines for what gauge wire can go in the wire nut. I don't think I necessarily need a professional, since it was a professional that made this mess in the first place.

NitroNate 03-05-2011 06:21 PM

those connectors are fine, since they are AL/CU approved and contain anti-corrosion compound. this is a DIY site, so do yourself a favor and don't make the call. this is not rocket science.

Bigplanz 03-05-2011 08:00 PM

Good link on the subject. Lays it all out for you in re: whether you think you can do this yourself.

http://www.inspectapedia.com/aluminum/alreduce.htm

joshxdr 03-05-2011 08:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bigplanz (Post 603258)
Good link on the subject. Lays it all out for you in re: whether you think you can do this yourself.

http://www.inspectapedia.com/aluminum/alreduce.htm

You have been snookered my friend. That site is a well known conspiracy theory hack job. If what they said there were true, then why are Ideal 65's code in basically every county in the country? Why are they still UL listed? Why does Ideal still sell them by the thousands? Why is hard to find an electrician who will provide COPALUM (hint: no-one will buy it!)? I will take the advice of UL and my county inspector over some 1998 internet rant thank you very much.

Red Squirrel 03-05-2011 08:24 PM

With that many nuts I suspect there is a lose wire in there, that is probably the problem. This looks like a rather simple install, all same colors together, no switch traveler wires or anything like that, so I no need to know what wire is which. I would pull the wires out, install a bigger junction box (get a box for a dryer plug, with a cover) and rewire nut them. Put maybe 4 per nut, then use a wire going to another nut, for the others. I don't like putting more then 4 connections on a wire nut as there is a good chance a wire ends up in the "middle" and is rather loose.

If it is al wire then that is more touchy but it sounds like you did your research. I'm not familiar with al myself but I do know you need to apply an anti corrosion gel of some sort, so remember to do that.

joshxdr 03-05-2011 08:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Red Squirrel (Post 603275)
With that many nuts I suspect there is a lose wire in there, that is probably the problem. This looks like a rather simple install, all same colors together, no switch traveler wires or anything like that, so I no need to know what wire is which. I would pull the wires out, install a bigger junction box (get a box for a dryer plug, with a cover) and rewire nut them. Put maybe 4 per nut, then use a wire going to another nut, for the others. I don't like putting more then 4 connections on a wire nut as there is a good chance a wire ends up in the "middle" and is rather loose.

If it is al wire then that is more touchy but it sounds like you did your research. I'm not familiar with al myself but I do know you need to apply an anti corrosion gel of some sort, so remember to do that.

The Ideal 65 wire nut has the oxidation inhibitor pre-loaded into the nut. It also has a special spring to handle the extra thermal expansion of the aluminum. Aluminum wire is very common in the city where I live, every electrician uses Ideal 65s when working on Al. You can buy them at Home Depot. I will try your suggestion of a bigger box with more wire nuts.

Bigplanz 03-05-2011 09:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by joshxdr (Post 603274)
You have been snookered my friend. That site is a well known conspiracy theory hack job. If what they said there were true, then why are Ideal 65's code in basically every county in the country? Why are they still UL listed? Why does Ideal still sell them by the thousands? Why is hard to find an electrician who will provide COPALUM (hint: no-one will buy it!)? I will take the advice of UL and my county inspector over some 1998 internet rant thank you very much.

Thanks for the information.

AllanJ 03-06-2011 09:25 AM

You can get an extension ring (resembles a junction box but with no bottom) and put that over the box to give more room inside.

Undo the wire nut over the six conductors and sand them clean (may need to snip off the end and expose more wire.) Cut a #12 pigtail of the same color and wire nut that to the three copper ends with an ordinary wire nut. Wire nut the other end to the three aluminum ends using proper Cu-Al techniques. (The grounds need to be connected to the box itself as well, possibly needing one more pigtail.)

Repeat for the other two bundles.

Example of use of green wire nut with hole in small end, suited to this situation. Cut 10 inch bare pigtail and connect one end to the box. Run the green wire nut on and perhaps 4-5 inches from the attached end of the pigtail, fasten the 3 copper ground wires. Free end of the pigtail (cut shorter if desired) is connected to the 3 aluminum ground wires.

Jim Port 03-06-2011 11:04 AM

IIRC the Ideal purple wire nut is only for up to 3 conductors total. The King Alumi-conn is also only for up to 3 conductors.

Thurman 03-06-2011 11:43 AM

Use "Wago" connectors instead of wire nuts.

Jim Port 03-06-2011 11:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thurman (Post 603586)
Use "Wago" connectors instead of wire nuts.

Neither the Ideal push-ins or Wagos is listed for use with aluminum.


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