Jump to content

aluminum wiring


John Dirks Jr
 Share

Recommended Posts

John,

I've only run across a home completed wired with Al once in over 6 years. I noted this condition in the report and put a blurb about the potential risks of AL wiring. The selling agent freaked out saying he'd never heard of Aluminum wiring being a problem and has not referred me since (about 4 years ago). I included a link to the CPSC brochure about Al wiring hazards for the client and agent to see.

Incidentally, I did find several branch circuits with undersized wiring compared to the overcurrent protection. I recommended having a licensed electrician in to evaluate the electrical system (due to the Al wiring AND the overcurrent protection issues) since I couldn't tell if any of the components (such as switches and receptacles) were rated for AL.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Both the NAHI and State of Maryland SOP require inspectors to mention in the report the presence of aluminum wiring. I did that.

I noted that it wasn't the aluminum wiring itself that was a problem but the installation methods that needed to be checked to make sure they are correct. I didn't get into it too deep. I just stated that the electrician will know what to look for.

I did call out other specific electrical problems like open splices, doubled neutrals, open grounds, painted receptacles, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I noted that it wasn't the aluminum wiring itself that was a problem

But according to the CPSC and others, it is. Pardon my saying so, but it's not a good idea to bless it.id="blue">

I'm sure our moderator will weigh in, but my understanding is that the problems were primarily related to installation issues, like incompatible devices and improper connection methods that couldn't tolerate the greater expansion/contraction typical of AL branch wiring. I can't find anything at CSPS that says different; got any links?

Brian G.

Not That I Would Bless It Either [:-scared]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is what I use on my report when I have aluminum wiring. It is from Mark Cramer.

I also recommend that they have an electrical that knows about this type wire check the connection and repair as needed.

Solid strand aluminum wiring is present in the home. This wiring was installed in homes between 1965 and 1973 after which it was discovered that it is a potential fire hazard. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has had research conducted that has demonstrated that homes with this old style aluminum wiring (pre-1972) are 55 times more likely to have one or more connections reach fire hazard conditions than homes wired with copper. The hazard occurs at connections, such as at receptacles, switches, and at major appliance connections. Corrosion of the metals in the connection, particularly the wire itself, causes increased resistance to the flow of electricity that causes over heating. Newer aluminum alloys have fewer problems.

Modern standards require the use of newer, safer devices (Receptacles, switches, and circuit breakers, etc.) labeled ALR rather than the older AL devices used here. The modern devices reduce the risk. Some experts feel that even these devices do not completely eliminate the hazards. We recommend you obtain the booklet "Aluminum Wiring in the Home" from the CPSC at 1-800-638-2772 or on the web at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/516.pdf

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Phillip

This is what I use on my report when I have aluminum wiring. It is from Mark Cramer.

I also recommend that they have an electrical that knows about this type wire check the connection and repair as needed.

Solid strand aluminum wiring is present in the home. This wiring was installed in homes between 1965 and 1973 after which it was discovered that it is a potential fire hazard. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has had research conducted that has demonstrated that homes with this old style aluminum wiring (pre-1972) are 55 times more likely to have one or more connections reach fire hazard conditions than homes wired with copper. The hazard occurs at connections, such as at receptacles, switches, and at major appliance connections. Corrosion of the metals in the connection, particularly the wire itself, causes increased resistance to the flow of electricity that causes over heating. Newer aluminum alloys have fewer problems.

Modern standards require the use of newer, safer devices (Receptacles, switches, and circuit breakers, etc.) labeled ALR rather than the older AL devices used here. The modern devices reduce the risk. Some experts feel that even these devices do not completely eliminate the hazards. We recommend you obtain the booklet "Aluminum Wiring in the Home" from the CPSC at 1-800-638-2772 or on the web at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/516.pdf

There's a small flaw in that bit of boilerplate. While you definitely want to have switches & receptacles with the CO-ALR designation, there isn't any such thing as a circuit breaker with that designation. They're all labeled CU-AL (and that's ok).

My take on aluminum wiring:

I don't trust the old 1350 alloy at all. It fatigues easily and there's a high risk of cracked wires. That risk increases every time it's manipulated -- for instance when an electrician examines the connections on our recommendation. Also, most of the 1350 branch wiring was installed with switches & receptacles that were either listed for copper only or that were the older, inferior CU-AL type. I'm aware of two homes in my area that burned to the ground because of defects with this type of wire. One of those homes was owned by my wife's boss. If I can determine that this type of branch circuit wiring is present in a house that I'm inspecting, I recommend ripping it all out and replacing it with new copper.

The improved 8000-series alloys are different. This wire is fine, though the connections are still slightly challenging. With that alloy, I'd advise my customer to have an electrician ensure that every switch & receptacle is the CO-ALR type, that every connection is snug, and that every connection is made up with a device that's listed for aluminum. Any new connections should be made up with the new Alumiconn connectors. In my area, that should take an electrician about one afternoon if he works with an assistant. With this small investment, 8000-series branch circuit wiring ought to be as safe as copper wiring.

In John's original post, the cables in the pictures look like the older alloy -- I don't see the marking "AA-8000" on the cable sheath anywhere. Since most of the wiring in that house seems to be copper, it should be relatively simple to just swap out the few aluminum circuits that are there. I certainly wouldn't waste any money trying to improve the mess in that attic -- I'd rather put the money toward replacement.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I know is most of the world outside north america appears wired w/ aluminum wiring. I have worked my way from the barrens of the Canadian Bush to the Greater Antilles on various construction projects, & I want to say, the entire Third World is in danger of burning down if what our electrical maestros have to say has a shred of truth.

For god sake, we could have Rastafarians getting toasted in their sleep as they dream their > moonbeam dreams & Canadian Pre-Cambrian Shield natives coming out of the obscurity of the ages melting their igloos w/ faulty aluminum wiring.

Most of the homes I find in north america that are wired w/ aluminum deserve to burn down; leaving it all in place may be the appropriate response to a world gone mad.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Jim M abt the wiring.

I agree with Jim about Chad being the messenger. I would suggest Chad do it in person 'tho.

The average inspector seems to think he is saving the world. Ain't true! Read, Read, Read - scrape a few knuckles, travel as much as possible, then get back to me!

Jim, I am sure you find things in Mexico (and your int'l travel) that would scare the crap out of the average inspector.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Walk down any street in Mexico, and without even looking for them, you will see more horrifyingly dangerous, unprotected splices than you will see in 40 years as a home inspector. It is astounding. If 1/10th of the bad things happened here that ought to have happened given the positively combustible state of the wiring, every last person in Mexico would be graveyard-dead. They say chance favors the prepared. I'd like to add that it also favors those who live in concrete (and not wood framed) houses.

Scarier still are the termites we've found in wooden door trim six stories up in 6 month old concrete structure. A far cry from the termites I grew up with in Boston. These motherbuggers are badder than ol' King Kong.

From the land (largely) without GFI's, electrical grounds, or any sort of code enforcement,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Jim Morrison

Who among us would like to be the one to tell Kurt that both the Canadian Bush and the Greater Antilles are part of North America?

I vote for Chad.

I didn't say Canada and the Greater Antilles aren't part of North America. I mentioned places outside North America, and I noted Canadian bush country and some islands in the Caribbean have aluminum wiring.

Who's going to have to tell Jimmy he needs remedial reading and English to understand some artistic license when he sees it?

Not Chad. Poor boy has his hands full keeping track of ITA/Kaplan inanities..........

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Jim Morrison

Walk down any street in Mexico, and without even looking for them, you will see more horrifyingly dangerous, unprotected splices than you will see in 40 years as a home inspector. It is astounding. If 1/10th of the bad things happened here that ought to have happened given the positively combustible state of the wiring, every last person in Mexico would be graveyard-dead. They say chance favors the prepared. I'd like to add that it also favors those who live in concrete (and not wood framed) houses.

Scarier still are the termites we've found in wooden door trim six stories up in 6 month old concrete structure. A far cry from the termites I grew up with in Boston. These motherbuggers are badder than ol' King Kong.

From the land (largely) without GFI's, electrical grounds, or any sort of code enforcement,

My time working in the Antilles (Lesser and Greater, for Jimmy), showed me just how nasty termites can really be.

I've watched tropical termites eat treated lumber until there was nothing left. As workers consume enough poison, they fall off and are replaced by new termites, until the treated lumber is gone.

We used to have pools on how quick termites could eat a chunk of 2x4 (untreated) tossed into the weeds. We had one chunk get consumed in less than 2 hours. I'd never believe it if I hadn't seen it.

Plumbing and electrical?

If the water comes out the faucet, and it goes back down the drain hole, the plumbing must be done right.

If the light goes on and off when you flip the switch, the electrical is done right.

It's real simple down there.......

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by kurt

Originally posted by Jim Morrison

Scarier still are the termites we've found in wooden door trim six stories up in 6 month old concrete structure. A far cry from the termites I grew up with in Boston. These motherbuggers are badder than ol' King Kong.

My time working in the Antilles (Lesser and Greater, for Jimmy), showed me just how nasty termites can really be.

I've watched tropical termites eat treated lumber until there was nothing left. As workers consume enough poison, they fall off and are replaced by new termites, until the treated lumber is gone.

We used to have pools on how quick termites could eat a chunk of 2x4 (untreated) tossed into the weeds. We had one chunk get consumed in less than 2 hours. I'd never believe it if I hadn't seen it.

Hi,

I don't remember where I saw it, but I distinctly remember reading someplace that if you took the combined weight of every termite on earth and placed it on one scale and then took the combined weight of every single human that the termites would far outweigh humans. Apparently, they are the largest recyclers on the planet and are critical to the heath of this rock.

Go figure.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by hausdok

Originally posted by kurt

Originally posted by Jim Morrison

Scarier still are the termites we've found in wooden door trim six stories up in 6 month old concrete structure. A far cry from the termites I grew up with in Boston. These motherbuggers are badder than ol' King Kong.

My time working in the Antilles (Lesser and Greater, for Jimmy), showed me just how nasty termites can really be.

I've watched tropical termites eat treated lumber until there was nothing left. As workers consume enough poison, they fall off and are replaced by new termites, until the treated lumber is gone.

We used to have pools on how quick termites could eat a chunk of 2x4 (untreated) tossed into the weeds. We had one chunk get consumed in less than 2 hours. I'd never believe it if I hadn't seen it.

Hi,

I don't remember where I saw it, but I distinctly remember reading someplace that if you took the combined weight of every termite on earth and placed it on one scale and then took the combined weight of every single human that the termites would far outweigh humans. Apparently, they are the largest recyclers on the planet and are critical to the heath of this rock.

Go figure.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Hey Cousin Mike,

You might have read about it in something I wrote a few years back:

#61667; 2001 Jim Morrison

If Walls Could Talk…#61668;

Termites

"...Approximately 1 in 3 houses in this area will be damaged to some degree by termites, so it's fairly common. In fact, the total weight of all of the termites on Earth is estimated to be much greater that the total weight of all of the humans. Our ancient hominid ancestors are believed to have eaten them. Note to all dieters: termites provide 560 calories per 100 grams, and are rich in protein and amino acids. The kind of termite found in New England lives in the soil and eats anything containing cellulose, the building blocks of wood. Only the blind workers actually eat your house. They bring the wood back to the nest to feed the ever-hungry colony, and they are constantly foraging for a new food source......"

Sorry for picking on you Kurt, but it's been a slow day. True, I need remedial reading classes, but am WAY overdue for another of our philosophical exchanges. Wind's picking up down here....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Jim Morrison

. . . In fact, the total weight of all of the termites on Earth is estimated to be much greater that the total weight of all of the humans. Our ancient hominid ancestors are believed to have eaten them. Note to all dieters: termites provide 560 calories per 100 grams, and are rich in protein and amino acids. . .

As I may be one of the only TIJers to have actually eaten termites (toasted), let me point out that they're quite tasty, possessing a flavor that resembles cashews. The problem with them -- as food -- is that it's difficult to gather enough to make a mouthful let alone a meal.

Perhaps if I were to lay on the ground in the Antilles and toss a chunk of 2x4 in my open mouth . . .

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Jim Katen

There's a small flaw in that bit of boilerplate. While you definitely want to have switches & receptacles with the CO-ALR designation, there isn't any such thing as a circuit breaker with that designation. They're all labeled CU-AL (and that's ok).

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Thanks for the info Jim.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...