For which panels are those available? I've been told that the Siemens
breakers are both GFCI/AFCI and believe that to be the case (based on
personal experience - I posted before about a "ground fault" through a
USB cable causing my AFCI breaker to trip) but a) I can't find
documentation of same and b) I was also told that the GF protection was
at an "equipment protection" level not a "personnel protection" level (I
believe 30 mA vs 5 mA, but I'm going off memory here) therefore it
wouldn't meet the intent of the Code.
I do agree, however, that AFCI protection does not seem to be an
entirely bad idea with Al wiring. FWIW I've had the AFCI in for several
months now and have experienced no nuisance trips, only the trips caused
by the USB issue mentioned above.
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
You might want to wait a while yet. As I understand it, current AFCI's
only protect against parallel arcs, where there is an arc between hot
and neutral (or ground), without the load being in series, and the
current spikes are high.
The arcs you get from deteriorating aluminum connections are series
arcs, in series with the load. Even with a high load like a toaster or
a microwave oven, the arc current spikes can't exceed the full load
current of that appliance. So these arcs are harder to detect, and
current AFCIs are not designed to do so. And so you won't get any
protection from arcing connections.
Future AFCIs are supposed to detect series arcs too. I'd wait until
they appear if you don't have to install AFCIs now.
Not just bedrooms, but *all* branch circuits? The only AFCI's I've seen
so far are twice the width of a standard 15 A breaker, so that's going
to cause a lot of problems with panel space on upgrades. My own house
panel could fit one or two AFCI's if they replaced existing 15 A
breakers, and then it would be full.
Yup, but still nothing about the GFCI issue. I did find a link to the
new "AlumiConn" connectors which look like my best option for
pigtailing. Of course, now I have to make sure they didn't use any
#14 wire anywhere....
Breakers are marked/spec'd Al/Cu if applicable. AFAIK GFCI breakers are no
exception. How does the wiring look at the existing breaker connections? Any
sign of overheating? I got to tell you I would not have Al wiring in a house
of mine even a rental. If I were buying I would demand a big offset on the
price to compensate for it too. Just too many known problems. If I were
somehow stuck with it I would bite the bullet and replace ASAP. Peace of
mind alone is worth it. Do it a circuit at a time whenever you have to work
on one for some other reason if that's the only way and drop any 20A
breakers to 15A on renmaining Al circuits for added safety. I think the NEC
now requires 15A on Al circuits anyway.
Example of breaker rating/markings:
Hmm, I can't seem to find anything marked Al/Cu at the local home
improvement amusement parks. I do find several which specifically say
to use only with copper wiring. I'll pay a visit to a contractor
supply this week, they will probably have a better selection.
Yeah, I'm going through room by room and checking every outlet, switch
and fixture. Any 20A breakers on a 12awg Al circuit will be replaced
with 15A breakers. I'm also expecting to encounter 14awg to the
bathrooms and will be dropping new wire there. I already found one
example of aluminum nutted to *stranded* copper on a lighting
fixture... that got me moving on the whole thing. I'm hoping it won't
be requiring enough work to necessitate a permit, but it could go
either way at this point.
I would rather pigtail to copper and connect the copper to the breaker,
as in N8N's post. The breaker connection is probably heated by the
breaker trip mechanism, and heat cycling with aluminum is not a good
idea. Aside from that, I don't see any advantages in direct connection.
In any case, I would use the connection procedures in
UL fixed aluminum expansion problems with new alloy aluminum and CO/ALR
devices. But most of the installed aluminum branch circuit wire is
probably "old technology". (Aluminum oxidation is a problem with new and
Yeah, I've been using that as a rough guide, they've omitted mention
of the "normal" CO/ALR butt splices sold at Home Depot and such
though. So I'm not sure where they fit into the whole scheme, but I
suspect they're about as good an idea as the purple wire nuts also
sold there (which is to say, not at all).
Yeah, in my case it's silver-colored wire through and through, so it's
not the copper clad type aluminum that is supposed to be safer. Thus
requiring scraping, anti-oxidant, and a thermally-safe fit at every
In general, what is reasonable to buy at Home Depot, and what should be
bought from an electrical supply company?
For example, if I want to replace an outlet, or a switch, is one of the
cheap ones from the bins at Home Depot OK? If not, how about the more
expensive boxed ones there?
How about wire, cable, conduit, wire nuts, and things like that?
Generally speaking you can probably beat the supply house on a lot of
common homeowner type stuff at the home depot. What you don't get is
service and things that are not as common.
The price break at a supply house will not kick in until you are a
"case price" customer who spends enough there to get on the "good
customer" price sheet. They don't want to compete with home depot for
the homeowner market.
I don't know what your "normal butt splices" are. Butt splices join
wires end-to-end with a sleeve which is usually crimped to the wire.
The only listed splice devices for aluminum branch circuits I know of
are Alumiconn, as in gfretwell's post, and purple Ideal 65 wirenuts.
Alumiconn is new and looks real interesitng. In the research done for
the CPSC, the Ideal 65 didn't work better than other wirenuts with
antioxide paste, and had flamability issues. I think that is in
alreduce.htm. Scotch doesn't make wirenuts listed for aluminum. But
Scotch is recommended by alreduce.htm based on the extensive testing
done for the CPSC.
"Normal" butt splices as opposed to the COPALUM splices that require a
OK, so currently my Al mitigation plan is:
- Use Scotchlok spring nuts according to the instructions in
alreduce.htm (scrape, no-alox, pre-twist) wherever solid aluminum
mates to solid copper
- Use Alumiconn e.g. on fixtures with stranded copper or where space
is an issue
- Replace any 14AWG aluminum wire
- Replace any 20A breakers on 12AWG aluminum circuits with 15A
- On switches and outlets, replace with new CO/ALR devices
- Pigtail to copper for GFCI outlets in baths, kitchen, laundry, or
similarly install GFCI breakers if I can find them for my panel
- Have an electrician check the connections at high voltage appliances
and the service drop
- Keep my eye out for the feasibility of series fault AFCIs as they
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.