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aluminum wire plugs/switches


plummen
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How many of you are familiar with this and how do you handle it?

I had a house a couple of weeks where the home inspector wrote up a house built in early-mid 70s for not having kitchen circuits gfi protected.I told the owner that they were existing plugs from when house was built but if he wanted them i would install them.Anyway when i opened up the boxes i found the old aluminum romex cable feeding the circuits so i put some nolox in the wire nuts i was using and pigtailed copper wire onto the existing wires to install the gfi's.

Normally id just use plugs made for aluminum wire but this wasnt possible for the gfi's.So my question is how do you guys handle aluminum wire and plugs/switches and how many of you check for this on your inspections? [:-magnify

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I do not open switch boxes, outlet boxes, etc during the course of a home inspection, but if I see aluminum conductors anywhere, such as in the panelboard, I mention it in the report.

Jim, you've done 18 posts since you joined this forum yesterday. Does this mean you like it?

Marc

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plummen,

You come here with a presentation of things as you understood they happened. We take your word and do the best we can with it.

That aside;

Yes, there are bad inspectors out there. When you ask the bad ones to raise their hands, do you expect them to do it?

It's like your trying to find out who's wrong. It's an abrasive approach.

I'm just wonderin....

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I just asked a question about how you guy handle this situation since i felt it would be part of a normal process of inspecting a house,what is so abrasive about that? You guys give me hell about my spelling and punctuation,im trying to improve that for ya.(im a 1 finger typer )what do i have to do here to be more accomidating for ya? If im that much of a pain in the ass Ill just go back to being the best knuckle dragging contractor I can be and leave you guys here to drink tea and get your jollys off reading versus from code books to each other! [:-taped]

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Marc, most dimmers and GFCI outlets that I've seen are not rated for Al wiring.

Plum, I would ID the Al wiring on the cable or in the panel box. Then tell the buyer to have an electrician to check all of the wire connections to devices in the entire house and make appropraite repairs/alterations.

So tell us how YOU would handle it as an inspector??

Yes, I've opened plenty of J boxes, outlet & switch boxes. Some inspectors will do it; some will not.

You would also probably criticize the inspector who DIDN'T recommend GFCI outlets in an older house. With some people you just can't win.

BTW- what kind of wire nuts did you use.

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the home inspector wrote up a house built in early-mid 70s for not having kitchen circuits gfi protected.

Well, did he "write up" the house, or did he simply point out to the prospective buyer that the kitchen appliance circuits were not GFCI protected, because the home was built before GFCI protection was required on any kitchen circuits (1987 within 6ft of the sink and 1996 for all receptacles serving the countertop), and recommend that, for safety, it would be relatively easy and prudent to have a couple of GFCI receptacles added by an electrician?

We can't order anything to be done but we sure as hell can recommend a safety upgrade be done when it's to the benefit of our clients. If our clients then demand that of the seller and the seller agrees to do it, even though there is nothing requiring the seller to do do it, we shouldn't be accused of being over-zealous when all we did was recommend the client make an upgrade that might possibly save the life of the client or someone in the client's family someday.

when i opened up the boxes i found the old aluminum romex cable feeding the circuits so i put some nolox in the wire nuts i was using and pigtailed copper wire onto the existing wires to install the gfi's.
So, is that even allowed? I thought that the only way one was allowed to pigtail copper to aluminum wiring is with connectors that are specifically designed and approved for that (Copalum and AlumiConn) and with receptacles marked CO/ALR. I think you should check this out, 'cuz you appear to be using unapproved and out-of-date methods to pigtail copper wiring to aluminum wiring.

Home inspectors aren't required to disassemble electrical boxes though we do pull the deadfront cover off panels to investigate the conditions inside. If we find aluminum wiring in the panel, we need to make sure that the breakers those wires are connected to are approved for both copper or aluminum and we then have a reason to dig a little deeper and to pull a receptacle cover or switch cover to see whether the other end of those aluminum conductors are pigtailed properly. Even then, we might not be able to see much if the aluminum wiring stops somewhere inside of a junction box and copper wiring has been used from that junction box to the switch or receptacle.

At that point, all we can do is report to the client that the house has aluminum wiring and that a licensed electrician needs to follow up to check and make sure that all connections where aluminum wiring is used have been made in accordance with best practices.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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How many of you are familiar with this and how do you handle it?

I had a house a couple of weeks where the home inspector wrote up a house built in early-mid 70s for not having kitchen circuits gfi protected.

Good for him.

I told the owner that they were existing plugs from when house was built but if he wanted them i would install them.Anyway when i opened up the boxes i found the old aluminum romex cable feeding the circuits so i put some nolox in the wire nuts i was using and pigtailed copper wire onto the existing wires to install the gfi's.

Unless you were using Ideal purple wire nuts, I think you made improper connections. The Ideal purples are the only nuts I'm aware of that are rated for connecting aluminum to copper. I prefer, the Alumiconn connectors, by the way. Check them out.

Normally id just use plugs made for aluminum wire but this wasnt possible for the gfi's.So my question is how do you guys handle aluminum wire and plugs/switches and how many of you check for this on your inspections? [:-magnify

Home inspectors should be checking for aluminum wiring at the panel. Most inspectors don't remove coverplates from receptacles or switches. If a home inspector sees aluminum wiring in the 15- and 20-amp branch circuits he should be recommending, at the very least, further evaluation by an electrician.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Jim,

While we're on this topic......

It came up yesterday on the house I inspected.

What do you typically tell your clients to do?

My client's brother was an electrician. They called him and had me talk to him while I was there. Once I told him the concern, all he said was "that sucks". When I asked him what he would do with it, his reply was that he'd just go through and check all of the connections to make sure they weren't loose.

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Marc, most dimmers and GFCI outlets that I've seen are not rated for Al wiring.

Plum, I would ID the Al wiring on the cable or in the panel box. Then tell the buyer to have an electrician to check all of the wire connections to devices in the entire house and make appropraite repairs/alterations.

So tell us how YOU would handle it as an inspector??

Yes, I've opened plenty of J boxes, outlet & switch boxes. Some inspectors will do it; some will not.

You would also probably criticize the inspector who DIDN'T recommend GFCI outlets in an older house. With some people you just can't win.

BTW- what kind of wire nuts did you use.

tan oneswithlots of no-lox in them to prevent oxidation! [:-slaphap
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the home inspector wrote up a house built in early-mid 70s for not having kitchen circuits gfi protected.

Well, did he "write up" the house, or did he simply point out to the prospective buyer that the kitchen appliance circuits were not GFCI protected, because the home was built before GFCI protection was required on any kitchen circuits (1987 within 6ft of the sink and 1996 for all receptacles serving the countertop), and recommend that, for safety, it would be relatively easy and prudent to have a couple of GFCI receptacles added by an electrician? yes it is absolutely legal to do that.the no-lox keeps the aluminum from oxidizing and causing electrolocize(spell check) between the 2 dissimilar materials.

We can't order anything to be done but we sure as hell can recommend a safety upgrade be done when it's to the benefit of our clients. If our clients then demand that of the seller and the seller agrees to do it, even though there is nothing requiring the seller to do do it, we shouldn't be accused of being over-zealous when all we did was recommend the client make an upgrade that might possibly save the life of the client or someone in the client's family someday.

when i opened up the boxes i found the old aluminum romex cable feeding the circuits so i put some nolox in the wire nuts i was using and pigtailed copper wire onto the existing wires to install the gfi's.
So, is that even allowed? I thought that the only way one was allowed to pigtail copper to aluminum wiring is with connectors that are specifically designed and approved for that (Copalum and AlumiConn) and with receptacles marked CO/ALR. I think you should check this out, 'cuz you appear to be using unapproved and out-of-date methods to pigtail copper wiring to aluminum wiring.

Home inspectors aren't required to disassemble electrical boxes though we do pull the deadfront cover off panels to investigate the conditions inside. If we find aluminum wiring in the panel, we need to make sure that the breakers those wires are connected to are approved for both copper or aluminum and we then have a reason to dig a little deeper and to pull a receptacle cover or switch cover to see whether the other end of those aluminum conductors are pigtailed properly. Even then, we might not be able to see much if the aluminum wiring stops somewhere inside of a junction box and copper wiring has been used from that junction box to the switch or receptacle.

At that point, all we can do is report to the client that the house has aluminum wiring and that a licensed electrician needs to follow up to check and make sure that all connections where aluminum wiring is used have been made in accordance with best practices.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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How many of you are familiar with this and how do you handle it?

I had a house a couple of weeks where the home inspector wrote up a house built in early-mid 70s for not having kitchen circuits gfi protected.

Good for him.

I told the owner that they were existing plugs from when house was built but if he wanted them i would install them.Anyway when i opened up the boxes i found the old aluminum romex cable feeding the circuits so i put some nolox in the wire nuts i was using and pigtailed copper wire onto the existing wires to install the gfi's.

Unless you were using Ideal purple wire nuts, I think you made improper connections. The Ideal purples are the only nuts I'm aware of that are rated for connecting aluminum to copper. I prefer, the Alumiconn connectors, by the way. Check them out.

Normally id just use plugs made for aluminum wire but this wasnt possible for the gfi's.So my question is how do you guys handle aluminum wire and plugs/switches and how many of you check for this on your inspections? [:-magnify

Home inspectors should be checking for aluminum wiring at the panel. Most inspectors don't remove coverplates from receptacles or switches. If a home inspector sees aluminum wiring in the 15- and 20-amp branch circuits he should be recommending, at the very least, further evaluation by an electrician.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

ive got a state electrical contractors license and several city of omaha inspectors that say i can do it that way
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Jim,

While we're on this topic......

It came up yesterday on the house I inspected.

What do you typically tell your clients to do?

My client's brother was an electrician. They called him and had me talk to him while I was there. Once I told him the concern, all he said was "that sucks". When I asked him what he would do with it, his reply was that he'd just go through and check all of the connections to make sure they weren't loose.

if youre not changing any plugs and they have the proper plugs/switches installed that pretty much all you can do.the issues arise if they have the wrong plugs/switches installed or you need to add or change something.

Aluminum wire expands/contracts much more than copper it also corrodes easily,the proper plugs switches have tin/aluminum plated screws to help prevent electrolosys

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How many of you are familiar with this and how do you handle it?

I had a house a couple of weeks where the home inspector wrote up a house built in early-mid 70s for not having kitchen circuits gfi protected.

Good for him.

I told the owner that they were existing plugs from when house was built but if he wanted them i would install them.Anyway when i opened up the boxes i found the old aluminum romex cable feeding the circuits so i put some nolox in the wire nuts i was using and pigtailed copper wire onto the existing wires to install the gfi's.

Unless you were using Ideal purple wire nuts, I think you made improper connections. The Ideal purples are the only nuts I'm aware of that are rated for connecting aluminum to copper. I prefer, the Alumiconn connectors, by the way. Check them out.

Normally id just use plugs made for aluminum wire but this wasnt possible for the gfi's.So my question is how do you guys handle aluminum wire and plugs/switches and how many of you check for this on your inspections? [:-magnify

Home inspectors should be checking for aluminum wiring at the panel. Most inspectors don't remove coverplates from receptacles or switches. If a home inspector sees aluminum wiring in the 15- and 20-amp branch circuits he should be recommending, at the very least, further evaluation by an electrician.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

ive got a state electrical contractors license and several city of omaha inspectors that say i can do it that way
Well, that's a concept that we home inspectors are very familiar with - contractors that use outdated and even unsafe methods to do stuff and then when questioned about it fall back on the old - the local inspector says it's OK - excuse for continuing to do it that way, instead of taking a little time to learn something new and better.

I gave you an excellent link in my previous post. Did you even bother to go to that site and read any of the information there are do you think that there is absolutely nothing you can learn from any of us (sneer) home inspectors?

Why'd you come here if your only purpose in visiting our establishment was to denigrate the patrons and their chosen field. I've already explained to you that the purpose of this site is education and improvement of our profession. It would be nice if you could bring some of that to the table instead of looking for ways to criticize. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps you can learn a few things here?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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denigrate patrons? thats funny because i recently got done reading 3-4 pages over in the hvac forum about a mis sized coil for a condensing unit where you guys called hvac contractors a bunch of idiots,or didnt you read that one? it was basically to the point where it said home inspectors were gods and and hvac guys are a bunch of idiots ! i guess that doesnt count huh?

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Click to Enlarge
tn_20102822055_ja-36.jpg

22.83 KB yep,looks like no-lox to me! does that suffice for 110.3(B) for ya? listed as preventing oxidation on aluminum wire

What is that picture from?

I see a picture of someone putting anti-oxidant compound on wire. I don't see an explanation saying that it's then ok to put that wire into a connector that isn't listed for aluminum.

Other than the Ideal 65 purple wire nuts, every bag of wire nuts I've seen says that they're listed only for CU to CU.

Here's one catalogue from Ideal:

http://www.idealindustries.com/media/pd ... ations.pdf

Do you know of a wire nut other than the Ideal 65, which is listed for joining aluminum to copper?

- Jim Katen

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denigrate patrons? thats funny because i recently got done reading 3-4 pages over in the hvac forum about a mis sized coil for a condensing unit where you guys called hvac contractors a bunch of idiots,or didnt you read that one? it was basically to the point where it said home inspectors were gods and and hvac guys are a bunch of idiots ! i guess that doesnt count huh?

Well, this is a home inspectors' site and the "patrons" are home inspectors, aren't they? Now, if I went and hung out on an HVAC forum and started dissing the patrons there, I'd probably be doing exactly what, oh, I dunno, YOU are doing, wouldn't I?

I know the thread you are referring to, can you tell me the specific post where a home inspector called himself or home inspectors Gods, or is that a little bit of theatrical embellishment made by you because you felt slighted by the tone that thread took?

I'll bet you I can go to any HVAC forum on the planet right now and find one or two posts where the HVAC guys are bitching about those damned home inspectors. Maybe I'd even find you participating in one or two of those discussions, and laying into those (sneer) so-called home inspectors. No?

You're still spending most of your time not bringing anything to the table here. We've got other trades that hang here regularly who are very helpful and want to help make our profession be better. They don't spend a lot of time trying to find fault here and they, like us, know there's a lot of room for improvement in their own profession, so they've adopted a thick hide when here and very graciously take it and return it by helping here and earning the respect of the brethren.

Do you think you're big enough of a man to do that, or is it more important for you to find fault here. I'm beginning to think that you might have recently been traumatized by something a home inspector wrote and hanging out here and sniping at inspectors is your way of getting payback. Is that why you are really here?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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there we go with my spelling again,i can go get a bottle out of my service van but you know what im talking about. anyway oxidation is the problem with the aluminum wire ,look inside your fancy purple wire nuts youre talking about and this is what you will find in there to prevent electrolisys(spell check) between the copper and aluminum wire.

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there we go with my spelling again,i can go get a bottle out of my service van but you know what im talking about. anyway oxidation is the problem with the aluminum wire ,look inside your fancy purple wire nuts youre talking about and this is what you will find in there to prevent electrolisys(spell check) between the copper and aluminum wire.

I don't know what you're talking about regarding the spelling. I haven't criticized you for that.

The connector has to be listed for the use. Adding anti-oxidant paste doesn't change that.

- Jim Katen

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