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Copper Clad Aluminum Wirng


Paul MacLean
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I'm consulting with an attorney who is defending another Austin inspector in a lawsuit. One of the items the inspector is accused of is not identifying copper clad aluminum wiring in the house. The wiring is not a major issue in this case, but I have been asked what I know about copper clad aluminum. The answer is next to nothing. I've tried googling copper clad aluminum but about the only thing I came up with is the the repair recommendations for aluminum wiring don't apply to copper clad aluminum.

Can anybody tell me what problems are associated with copper clad aluminum, if any? also I would really appreciate it if you can tell me where to look for reliable information.

Thanks in advance!

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Perhaps Jim will chime in soon.

To identify copper clad aluminum one has to look at the end of the wire to see the aluminum middle no? This would mean having to disconnect the wire which is beyond the scope of the inspection.

How did they find out they had this wiring in the home? Was it all the wiring or just the service feed and 220 branch lines?

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Originally posted by Terence McCann

To identify copper clad aluminum one has to look at the end of the wire to see the aluminum middle no? This would mean having to disconnect the wire which is beyond the scope of the inspection.

Well, yeah either that or the size. Aluminum wiring always jumps out at me because of it's size. With aluminum wiring you're using 12 gauge for 15 amp circuits, 10 gauge for 20 amp circuits and 8's for 30 amp circuits.

Paul, It's pretty brittle stuff. You can't bend it as much as you can the copper.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by Paul MacLean

. . . Can anybody tell me what problems are associated with copper clad aluminum, if any? also I would really appreciate it if you can tell me where to look for reliable information.

Thanks in advance!

I've never seen copper clad aluminum wiring installed in a house. If I were to ever run into it, I'd probably notice it because of what Mike said; the wires would be abnormally large for copper.

Dan Friedman has an exhaustive site devoted to aluminum wiring at http://www.inspect-ny.com/aluminum.htm

The only thing I could find there about copper-clad aluminum is nearly 3/4 of the way down the page. It says, "Copper-clad aluminum wire has a thin copper outer skin and a core of aluminum. Therefore it looks like copper, except on close examination of a cut end. Markings on the cable jacket would include "Al" or "Aluminum". There is no known history of connection overheating problems associated with copper-clad aluminum wire. No corrective actions are required for copper-clad aluminum wire."

I hope this helps.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I've never seen (or even heard of it before) either? I've seen nickel coated copper, but not copper clad aluminum. That's a new one.

One would think that would have to be pretty pricey stuff due to the overcoming oxidation during the cladding process.

I know from my days in steel that properly preparing aluminum to receive paint and actually applying the paintis no small task. (special solutions and speed)

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Thanks everyone.

Jim, I found the reference on Friedman's site, but that was all. Douglas said on the ASHI board that it was a 70's thing, and, as several have pointed out, it must be sized as aluminum wiring.

I'm working with the defense team. The primary issue here was water penetration, mold and all that goes with it. The copper clad aluminum came up as something else the inspector did not report when his report was put under the microscope, so it's a minor issue. The defense attorneys just want to be prepared for anything.

My role in this case has been limited to being a sounding board for the defense team. Should an inspector be expected to do this or that? What do you think of his inspection? What about the plaintiff's comments in the depositions? etc. I doubt that I will be brought in as a witness if it reaches the court, but that possibility exists.

This is the only expert witness work I've done. I got called because I did an inspection for one of the attorneys and he liked my work.

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Paul,

Even the best inspector can miss copper clad aluminum if they'er not careful. It is a late 60's - early 70's thing. The problem is when you tighten the screws down for the connection it can cut or split the copper and the screw gets into the aluminum. The old bimetallic connection, galvanic reaction thing happens. You now have the same problem that you would have with pure aluminum. My personal opinion is either treat it like aluminum and crimp on pig tails or change all of the devices to approved AL/CU type.

One way to spot it as was said is by size, another is the romex sheath is a beige or light green color. It says copper clad aluminum embossed on the sheath if you can read it. The third way is to carefully nick one of the grounds with an insulated screwdriver.

When I find it, and it's rare, I call it out just like aluminum. As far as missing it in an inspection is concerned, if it isn't installed correctly (King Kong electrician) it's no better than aluminum.

Hope that helps

Bruce

Download Attachment: icon_photo.gif 3670RomexWwire.JPG

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Thought I had Copper clad Aluminum today but it turned out to be solid copper.

Bruce

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