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Is This Aluminum Branch Wiring?


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Inspected a home today and I think it might have aluminum branch wiring but I am not 100% sure.

The reason I am not positive is because the vast majority of the box is obviously copper but there are a select few breakers that look aluminum (however I know they make coated wiring that kind of looks aluminum even though it isn't) and because the diameter still looks 14 gauge and not 12 gauge but I only eyeballed it.

This home had a lot of shoddy DIY work and I am thinking he added aluminum wiring to the bottom of the box for an addition in the basement and I just want to be sure it's not just some type of coated 14 gauge copper before I advise my client.

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Well I have seen aluminum a couple of times on the entire home (been inspecting for just slightly over two years now) and I have a narrative I put in there for that to use all the proper connections and have it inspected every year by an electrician, but in this case these circuits only go to DIY electrical work in strapping (without finished walls in the basement) and I am going to recommend it be entirely removed and properly installed with permits by a licensed electrician.

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I'm just a new inspector with a background in framing and cribbing, it was a struggle for me to pass the electrical part of the Carson Dunlop course, just wondering, Chad, in this situation what would you put in the report? If the basement was completely finished would your report be different? Or anyone with more experience than me feel free to respond.. That leaves it really wide open I know but I'd like to hear.

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I'm just a new inspector with a background in framing and cribbing, it was a struggle for me to pass the electrical part of the Carson Dunlop course, just wondering, Chad, in this situation what would you put in the report? If the basement was completely finished would your report be different? Or anyone with more experience than me feel free to respond.. That leaves it really wide open I know but I'd like to hear.

The best answer, as the OP did here, is to replace it, such as here where some goof used Al to wire his basement. 2 or 3 circuits, not too hard to pull copper in.

In late 60's, early 70's house with 6 or more original Al circuits, I recommend having an electrician inspect the wiring at all outlets and fixtures, and have him ensure that all the junctions and connections are tight and safe, complying with safety standards. Then that this electrical service and inspection should be done every 10 years.

Then mention that this is an important issue with insurance companies so check with your insurance provider.

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I'd probably put something in my report regarding insurance company's possibly not writing a policy on a house with aluminum wiring....customers want to know that kind of stuff.

I'd put in the usual recommendations and caveats.

Huge amounts of the free and unfree world is wired with aluminum, from the northern bush to the Caribbean, South America, and vast swaths of China. Seems to work OK.

Our friend Reuben has a few decent points to make about it in his locale....

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Thanks for the assurance by the way I thought I was right I just wanted to be sure, I always wonder about that tinned copper cause I have never seen it and I don't want to mistake it for aluminum.

Tinned copper has rubber insulation, typically with a metal sheath. Aluminum will have thermoplastic insulation and a plastic sheath.

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Here is the boiler I wrote for branch circuit aluminum wiring.

Aluminum branch circuit wiring was identified at ***. Aluminum branch circuit wiring has a history of causing fires when improperly installed. It can be safe if installed correctly with all connections being updated and proper. It is beyond the scope of this inspection to verify the correct installation of any branch circuit aluminum wiring in this house. Have the aluminum wiring in this house further investigated by a qualified electrician to determine if any corrections need to be made. Have them repair all issues that may exist. More information at the following site. >>> http://inspectapedia.com/aluminum/aluminum.htm

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Here is the boiler I wrote for branch circuit aluminum wiring.

Aluminum branch circuit wiring was identified at ***. Aluminum branch circuit wiring has a history of causing fires when improperly installed. It can be safe if installed correctly with all connections being updated and proper. It is beyond the scope of this inspection to verify the correct installation of any branch circuit aluminum wiring in this house. Have the aluminum wiring in this house further investigated by a qualified electrician to determine if any corrections need to be made. Have them repair all issues that may exist. More information at the following site. >>> http://inspectapedia.com/aluminum/aluminum.htm

You know, you could substitute the word "copper" for the word "aluminum" in that paragraph and it would be just as true.

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That's an interesting observation. I did the substitution and yep, it's the same.

Thread drift.....

Am I the only person that can't fathom the organization and style of Inspectipedia? It's like a Dr. Bronners bottle, only with inspecting stuff.

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That's an interesting observation. I did the substitution and yep, it's the same.

Thread drift.....

Am I the only person that can't fathom the organization and style of Inspectipedia? It's like a Dr. Bronners bottle, only with inspecting stuff.

You're not alone.

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Here is the boiler I wrote for branch circuit aluminum wiring.

Aluminum branch circuit wiring was identified at ***. Aluminum branch circuit wiring has a history of causing fires when improperly installed. It can be safe if installed correctly with all connections being updated and proper. It is beyond the scope of this inspection to verify the correct installation of any branch circuit aluminum wiring in this house. Have the aluminum wiring in this house further investigated by a qualified electrician to determine if any corrections need to be made. Have them repair all issues that may exist. More information at the following site. >>> http://inspectapedia.com/aluminum/aluminum.htm

You know, you could substitute the word "copper" for the word "aluminum" in that paragraph and it would be just as true.

Jim,

Your views always help me keep the sensationalism to a minimum. It's very appreciated.

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Jim,

Your views always help me keep the sensationalism to a minimum. It's very appreciated.

Ah, but in this case the paragraph could use a bit more sensationalism. Older aluminum wiring certainly has problems that are distinct from those with copper wiring, but your paragraph doesn't convey that. For me, it's just too vague.

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Jim,

Your views always help me keep the sensationalism to a minimum. It's very appreciated.

Ah, but in this case the paragraph could use a bit more sensationalism. Older aluminum wiring certainly has problems that are distinct from those with copper wiring, but your paragraph doesn't convey that. For me, it's just too vague.

It's boilerplate. One thing about it is that every couple years you look back at it and end up sayings 'what the .... is that?'

Marc

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  • 2 weeks later...

The boiler plate I listed in this thread can be criticized, just like anything else that's written. But is it misleading to a client? Does it place me at an elevated risk of liability?

It's not misleading and I doubt that it puts you at elevated risk. Every sentence is accurate and true and your recommendation is sound. But that's often the case with very vague writing - in fact it's practically the definition of vague writing.

I just happened to notice that it was vague to the point where the comments no longer really applied to aluminum wiring in particular so much as to all wiring in general.

When comments get that vague, they lose utility.

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