Aluminum Wire - Electrical - Contractor Talk

Aluminum Wire

 
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Old 08-23-2008, 05:05 PM   #1
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Aluminum Wire


I went to help my friend move today and they asked me to look at a bank of switches that kept on tripping the breaker after switching the switches out.

When i went there the first thing i noticed was that they have aluminum wire in there new to them place. I know the precautions to take when dealing with it, the right marrets, the right devices, and the use of anti oxident. But I was trying to explain to them why aluminum wire is bad.

The biggest concern I have heard about it is that when it warms up it contracts which will eventually lead to a loose connection and we all know how that could end up in the worse case situtation.

Is there more to aluminum wire to worry about then what I mentioned above.

Thanks
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Old 08-23-2008, 05:30 PM   #2
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Re: Aluminum Wire


Generally speaking, the wire isn't the issue.

It's usually the installations of new devices not compatible with AL.

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Old 08-23-2008, 05:53 PM   #3
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Re: Aluminum Wire


They had bought new devices that were not compatible and i stronly recmmomed that they change them back to the old ones or buy new devices
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Old 08-24-2008, 05:46 AM   #4
 
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Re: Aluminum Wire


Run....real fast..... Seriously....make sure the dryer and AC are good and tight and have no lox all over. I'll done a handful of service calls where the Dryer rec are melted to hell from a loose #10 Al branch cir. and AC as well. You could copalum the whole house but thats pretty pricy $75 per rec?? or use the purple conn but those are somehow now controversial with lots of literature to back up. Personally I don't mess with a house any more with al because of liability reasons. If at all possible a rewire is the best idea but that cost a bit.

good luck
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Old 08-24-2008, 08:06 AM   #5
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Re: Aluminum Wire


My instincts are to run the other way and never look back, but these people are starting off with there first house so there is a part of me that wants to help them out.

I told him it would be worth the money in the future to replace it all but i think in the meantime we are going to buy some of the purple marretts and then he can use the plugs they have that are rated for copper only.
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Old 08-24-2008, 08:47 PM   #6
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Re: Aluminum Wire


Quote:
They had bought new devices that were not compatible
There ya go.

When the house burns down, some idiot will blame the AL wiring.

There a a few basic rules to folow with AL wiring. They have seriously violated the mOST IMPORTANT one.

Don't stongly suggest that they use the right devices, DEMAND it.

PS. IMO, the purple nuts are a scam. I have taken apart hundreds of regular wirenutted AL connections and have never seen an issue. I have pigtailed dozens of houses using regular wire nuts and never had an issue.

Be careful not to ring or score the AL wire as it will break easily when twisted. If you take off a wirenut and try to straighten and reuse the stripped ends, they tend to break.
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Old 08-26-2008, 11:55 PM   #7
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Re: Aluminum Wire


Quote:
Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post
PS. IMO, the purple nuts are a scam. I have taken apart hundreds of regular wirenutted AL connections and have never seen an issue. I have pigtailed dozens of houses using regular wire nuts and never had an issue.
They are basically a wire nut with Noalox in them.

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Old 08-27-2008, 12:58 AM   #8
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Re: Aluminum Wire


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Originally Posted by aikencolon View Post
They are basically a wire nut with Noalox in them.

JJ
With a UL listing. And that be the loophole to escape the fire through.
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Old 08-29-2008, 08:50 AM   #9
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Re: Aluminum Wire


Quote:
Originally Posted by darren View Post
. . . . when it warms up it contracts . . . .

Is there more to aluminum wire to worry about then what I mentioned above.
It doesn't contract when it warms up it expands, same as all metals.
The molecules in aluminum have a lot of empty space (thus its light weight) therefore it expands a lot more than other metals when it gets warm.
This expansion forces the terminations to stretch then the contraction of the wire when the circuit is not in use and cools down causes a loose connection as well as exposes parts of the wire to the air that were under the termination.
Aluminum is a great conductor, but aluminum-oxide is a horrible conductor(this is the other key problem with aluminum as branch circuits). Any part of the wire exposed to the air will form a thin invisible layer of oxidation, thus the use of Noalox to seal the freshly exposed wire.
Noalox is great for sealing the exposed portions, but when tightened down under a termination it forces away the most of the gooey stuff, which is fine because the termination seals out the air until it contracts under a non-rated termination.

I'm not a contractor and refuse side jobs that have aluminum wiring (I don't want my name no where near that crap), but I've heard it's best to use a rated crimp splice in the box to pigtail to copper to connect to standard devices.
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Old 08-30-2008, 09:40 AM   #10
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Re: Aluminum Wire


How do you guys feel about al wire for service entrance se or urd or like ser for sub pannels? My electrician uses it on our projects I was just interested what you guys thought?
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Old 08-30-2008, 02:56 PM   #11
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Re: Aluminum Wire


I use aluminum for sub panel feeders, range, dryer, and ac cirucuits.

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