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Solid-core aluminum wiring ban in residences


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I checked out a townhouse this afternoon that had two 240-volt circuits wired with solid-core aluminum. The seller and her realtor are saying the entire complex is only ten years old(which agreed with the inspection sticker on the panel), but I thought aluminum wiring was banned in residences long before then. My thinking is that the townhouses were originally apartments that some entity bought, partially renovated, and then resold. Clearly my buyer's position would be altered if she's buying a decades-old townhouse rather than a ten-year-old one. I realize there are other ways with which to date the building, but I was hoping to find out about the aluminum wire before I suggested the buyer hire an attorney to perform title searches, etc. Jim Katen, esteemed guru, I'm sure you hold the answer to this question.

John

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Well, I'm no guru, that's for sure and I really don't know the answer to your question.

However. . .

As far as I can tell, solid aluminum wires were never banned from residences. But the alloy was changed sometime in the mid 70s.

I don't have a '75 NEC, but my 1981 edition has this:

310-14 Aluminum Conductor Material. Solid aluminum conductors No. 8, 10, and 12 AWG shall be made of an aluminum alloy conductor material.

This section is still there in the 2005 Edition, though it's now a bit more specific:

310-14 Aluminum Conductor Material. Solid aluminum conductors 8, 10, and 12 AWG shall be made of an AA-8000 series electrical grade aluminum alloy conductor material.

The ampacity tables still list aluminum in the 8, 10 & 12 sizes and, perhaps more importantly, Section 240.4 still talks about limiting their ampacity to that listed in the 60 degree column.

So, we may have another home inspector myth going on here.

Unless someone else can find the source of this mysterious ban. Anyone? ? ?

- Jim Katen

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Yep, myth.

Hansen devotes four whole pages to it in his book - history, solutions, inspection guidelines. I was looking at the specs sheet inside a brand new panel in a spanking new house today and aluminum wiring sizes were listed right alongside copper wiring sizes for the 15 and 20 amp circuits.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Yikes, I hate to think that I've fallen prey to the myth-monster. Mike, based upon your recommendation in another thread, I bought Hansen's book, but have been wicked busy and haven't taken the time to read it. Jim, don't sell yourself short. Your breadth of knowledge constantly astounds. Scott, I did what you suggested, however briefly, but uncovered no definitive clues. That's why I was asking about the aluminum wire. I hate it when I'm wrong . . .

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What Hansen Book? I need some help in the electrical department. I got used to wiring in PA and in Tenn from doing contractor work but Now I'm in Cinci stuck in the middle and it seems like a 3rd world of wiring. I actually broke out one of my Dad's books, "Residential Wiring" by Gary Rockis. These guys never heard of Nec or his brother Ibc.

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Originally posted by Garcha

What Hansen Book? I need some help in the electrical department. I got used to wiring in PA and in Tenn from doing contractor work but Now I'm in Cinci stuck in the middle and it seems like a 3rd world of wiring. I actually broke out one of my Dad's books, "Residential Wiring" by Gary Rockis. These guys never heard of Nec or his brother Ibc.

You want to buy "Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings" by Douglas Hansen, Redwood Kardon & Michael Casey. Call Code Check at 650 493-5470 to order it.

It's a particularly valuable book because Douglas is a retired home inspector (and Mike is still a home inspector, and Redwood is the genius who invented Code Check).

Unlike most other electrical reference books, this one speaks directly to home inspectors.

- Jim Katen

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