Aluminum wiring

Re: Aluminum wiring

PostBy: lsayre On: Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:47 pm

If it doesn't have the purple anti-oxidant filled connectors, it isn't at all safe. And if the homes wires (which should be 10 AWG aluminum for 20 amps) are seen to be only 14 AWG aluminum, it is more than doubly unsafe.

I'm ballparking here via extrapolation, but 14 AWG aluminum is likely only safe for sustaining up to at best roughly 12 amps (1,440 Watts). If these wires are tied into 15 or 20 amp breakers, the wires could potentially overheat and burn before the breakers trip.
lsayre
 
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Re: Aluminum wiring

PostBy: KLook On: Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:28 pm

Yup, I remember those Freetown. And Sam, commercial applications of aluminum are different then residential. We all have aluminum wires bringing power into our homes. But fewer connections done by professionals. And if there is a problem you just have brown outs and such, not a house fire. I had problems like that in my first home. David is right about subtracting the cost, but right now, in this area, and specifically in the neighborhood this house is in, no way ...... Buyers are lined up waiting for houses to come on the market. If this was a normal house with a basement or crawl space, and an attic, it might/could be rewired. But it is on a slab and has cathedral ceilings between the panel(only 100 amps) and the far end where there is a separate split unit for heating and cooling....Now that I think of it, with electric water, electric range, 2 electric split units, and an electric dryer...... :shock:

Kevin
KLook
 
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Re: Aluminum wiring

PostBy: McGiever On: Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:37 pm

The aluminum wire connections are the issue, not the fact that the wire is made of aluminum.

In the mobile home manufacturing industry especially, the wiring methods of aluminum branch devices were employed that was not properly done. Add to that the fire spread rate at which any small or other size fire started would end in a total loss.

Mobile home were made with the cheapest electrical devices available...maybe even built only for mobile mfg and the installation always performed at a very quick pace so no attention was paid to details. Yes, copper would of been hands down the better choice in mobile homes, but $$$ economics $$$ got in the way. :mad:

The cheap push-in spring loaded wire terminations on switches and outlets were not suited for soft #10 aluminum, that, together with circuit count quantities not being more than minimum to pass code and those circuits often being overloaded and never as forgiving as the more $$$ COSTLY $$$ copper wiring. Using a no-oxide paste between wire and mating surfaces along with the wire wrapped clockwise forming an eye around the compression screw of the switch and plug devices with proper torque applied for maintaining great tension is what needs attended to to have a proper tightened non-heating connection.

Slightly loose connections makes heat...heat makes even looser connections making even more heat...which makes even more , more loose connections which makes even more, more heat...which...see where this is headed???

Now days only larger multi strand aluminum wire is available for use (but not for home building) and only mechanical tightened or indent compression are acceptable methods, and both require no-oxide paste be used.

If today an aluminum wiring job has lasted for several decades already in a stick built (1966) house it must of been built right when installed or was brought up to standards previously, or it would have never lasted this long. The hazards seen in mobile homes did not wait decades to show up in those occupied mobile homes.

Not saying to not use due caution in evaluating the house's wiring, just saying all/any aluminum is not a total impossibility. :)

My short answer on aluminum wire is..."It is only as good as the hands that do the connecting/splicing."
Sorta like computers, S#it in equals S#it out.
Best to use copper if you don't know what's different between the two.
McGiever
 
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Re: Aluminum wiring

PostBy: KLook On: Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:53 pm

Thanks for that, I am more concerned now for the upgrades that were made. I have found very shoddy workmanship in very high end houses here. Generally, Electricians are paying $10/hr for school certified Young men to do the grunt work. Or the little brown people that frequent the job sites..... ;)
Yes, it has stood the test of time. But to replace worn out switches and receptacles is more then regular devices. Plus the lack of Amps at the breaker panel makes me wonder where all the juice is coming from. Add into that the difficulty of selling it to others with less resources then myself to draw upon for advice and I think I will pass. Also, the house requires other updates that will add to the bottom line and I haven't even mentioned the copper tubing buried in the concrete......

Kevin
KLook
 
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Re: Aluminum wiring

PostBy: freetown fred On: Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:04 am

Kevin, quit thinkin about passin on it AND --DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The whole thing sounds like a can of worms! ;)
freetown fred
 
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Re: Aluminum wiring

PostBy: coalkirk On: Thu Feb 23, 2017 9:32 am

There is no such thing as #14 aluminum. Smallest gauge was #12 and was rated for 15 amps. For 20 amps it's #10 aluminum. Aluminum is as great conductor. No problem with the wiring, just the connections. To make it safe the house needs the wiring to be reterminated. That means using a special device to splice aluminum to copper. For switches and outlets, CO-ALR devices can be used. Those are ones rated for use with aluminum. Any other splices or connections should be reterminated. Electricians are creatures of habit just like the rest of us. They like to use wire nuts. There is a purple wire nut called an AMP95 that is rated for use with aluminum but it is not the best thing to use to reterminate a whole house. There is another device called an alumiconn connector that is the best thing to use. They are not cheap. Neither are the purple wire nits. The reason the alumiconns are better than the wire nuts has to do with the alloy used in the wiring. It was a very soft alloy and the twisting of the wire nuts extrudes the wire. The alumiconn has a screw that tightens against the wire and does not stretch it. There is a history of failure with the AMP95's also. Under no conditions should regular wire nits be used.
http://www.kinginnovation.com/products/ ... -alumiconn
coalkirk
 
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Re: Aluminum wiring

PostBy: NJJoe On: Thu Feb 23, 2017 2:39 pm

Seconded on Federal Pacific panels. Ask for a panel change-out if considering buying a home that has one.
NJJoe
 

Re: Aluminum wiring

PostBy: KLook On: Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:38 pm

As per Fred, I am out.... ;) I don't really care if it is "just as good as" anything else....it is the next person I am trying to sell to that matters.
Coalkirk, you state there is no such things as 14 awg alum. Yes there is and it was installed in the late 60's and 70's. I pulled an outlet out of the wall and it most certainly was not 12 awg.
As Mcgiever stated, it has stood the test of time, but it has been polished up recently and I have seen the quality of most "craftsmen" in this area. Thanks to all for responding. Over all, the responses were about the same as reading sites that came up in Google. Some for, some against, and some maybes....... :D

Kevin
KLook
 
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Re: Aluminum wiring

PostBy: coalkirk On: Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:24 pm

Well you'd have to show it to me for me to believe it. The solid aluminum used from 1963-1974 in homes was #12 for 15 amps and #10 for 20 amps. Never saw or heard of #14 solid aluminum from that era. Anyway the problem is very fixable and not a reason to bail on a house if it was a good deal.
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1981 EFM DF520
Coal Size/Type: anthracite/rice coal

Re: Aluminum wiring

PostBy: davidmcbeth3 On: Sat Feb 25, 2017 1:37 am

KLook wrote:As per Fred, I am out.... ;) I don't really care if it is "just as good as" anything else....it is the next person I am trying to sell to that matters.
Coalkirk, you state there is no such things as 14 awg alum. Yes there is and it was installed in the late 60's and 70's. I pulled an outlet out of the wall and it most certainly was not 12 awg.
As Mcgiever stated, it has stood the test of time, but it has been polished up recently and I have seen the quality of most "craftsmen" in this area. Thanks to all for responding. Over all, the responses were about the same as reading sites that came up in Google. Some for, some against, and some maybes....... :D

Kevin


Well you're trying to flip it .... decisions decisions ....
davidmcbeth3
 
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