Info to backup safety of aluminum wiring?

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Harry Muscle wrote:

1. <NOTHING> is "completely" safe. URL listing means only that the components passed the specific tests as certified. How valid those tests are under "field" as opposed to "laboratory" conditions is only one of the many issues involved.
2. There's an assumption that the cases of failure noted are comparable installations to those of the UL tests. That may or may not be the case.
To answer such a general question would take a great deal of research into the bases for the tests and the conditions down to almost a sample-by-sample basis.
From a quick glance at the site you reference, I'm not sure exactly how objective it is--it seems at first blush to be dedicated to the proposition that Al wiring <is> unsafe. Not saying it's not, just that to confirm/deny any of the alllegations there would take a significant amount of effort/time I don't have.
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Harry Muscle wrote:

I know now what bugged me about the site...wonder if it's a front for or being run in conjunction with a lawyer or firm looking for ammunition for class liability lawsuit...
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Duane Bozarth wrote:

The site is run by a home inspector. His interest is that home inspectors encounter conditions that may be a hazard and should be reported in an inspection report. The site collects information and has web links on a number of issues.
On aluminum a lot of the information comes from the US Consumer Product Safety Commision and Jesse Aronstein, PH.D., P.E., who was a vice president at Wright-Malta Corp. Wright-Malta is a test laboratory that did extensive testing on aluminum wiring and associated devices. (The also did some testing on FPE circuit breakers for the CSPC.) I see no evidence that the inspect-ny web site is other than an honest attept to furnish unbiased information.
Bud--
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Bud wrote: ....

Perhaps, and wish it to be so...hope there isn't some legal-beagle sitting in the background somewhere collecting anecdotal data in preparation for a mass-mailing to enlist clients.
Maybe I'm just overly sensitive as I've a collection of some 10 or so such mailings over the last year or two and there are at least three local late night TV adds currently or recently fishing for medical/pharamceutical/product liability participants... :(
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People should probably remember that once someone has expressed an opinion in "their field", they tend to vociferously defend it, often well after it's been proven wrong. Notice the study on Ideal wirenuts was done by the author of the site.
I'm frankly a bit confused by the stuff about the Ideal wirenut.
It's being summarized as "The Ideal #65 wirenut doesn't meet UL test XYZ"
Yet, the _only_ "real" response from UL is to say "You seem to be asking us to add more tests to UL XYZ". In otherwords, UL is implying that the tests do _not_ invalidate the UL test, the author of the test is doing something _different_.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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I don't think the author of this page is the same guy as who did the tests ... unless I'm not seeing something you're seeing.
Thanks, Harry
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Harry Muscle wrote:

The argument by the US Comsumer Product Safety Council was that the test standard from UL was not adequate to test aluminum. Issues included using 'current' aluminum wire instead of wire that was used before 1971. Also that laboratory tests showed the wire nut (Ideal #65 Twister) subject to failure (with the plastic body and the internal antioxidant supporting fire). Part of the significance of this is that the Ideal wire nut was probably the only wire nut listed by UL for use with aluminum and copper. (Ideal has said the wire nut was not intended for use in pigtailing retrofit application, but was intended for such applications as connecting lighting fixtures and ceiling fans.)
One of the sites linked from inspect-ny is
http://www.inspect-ny.com/aluminum/alreduce.htm
********************************************************************* IF YOU HAVE ALUMINUM WIRING I STRONGLY SUGGENT YOU LOOK AT THIS SITE. *********************************************************************
It is a paper writen by Jesse Aronstein P.E. who was a vice president at Wright-Malta Corp. Wright Malta is a test laboratory did a lot of testing of aluminum wire and associated devices for the CSPC and others.
The paper includes: - aluminum wiring systems, including those installed after UL changed the standards for wire and devices about 1971, are potential hazards - information on COPALUM crimp connections referred to in other posts (these probably can only be made by a electrician trained by the manufacturer) - what the problem is with wire nuts - very specific information on using wirenuts to make connections to a copper pigtail to connect to a device. - existing wirenuts in an aluminum should be replaced - very specific information on connections of aluminum wire to switches and receptacles - information on connecting aluminum wire to circuit breakers
Also other very useful information. It should be emphasized that this information is based on tests, not conjecture. The paper was writen in 2000.
In information on FPE breakers, inspect-ny says that the CPSC tried to regulate aluminum wire systems but was sued by the aluminum industry. The courts found that aluminum wiring systems were not consumer products and not subject to CPSC regulation (consumers do not buy significant aluminum system products). --------------------- Does anyone know what wirenuts, if any, are listed for aluminum and copper?
Bud-
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I found and bookmarked this site some time ago. http://www.inspect-ny.com/aluminum/piclib02.htm My house was built at the same time and had aluminum wire in all of the 15 amp circuits. I did pigtale the wires in each box and connected a separate wire to the outlets; used wirenuts rated for aluminum to copper. I do periodically tighten the connections to the circuit breakers especially on the aluminum circuit. I haven't seen any problems so far due to aluminum. However, many people in my neighborhood have.
Harry Muscle wrote:

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HM,
I bought a house that someone had wired the basement with aluminum. Only one room was sheetrocked, so I left that part of the wiring in. The rest I removed and trashed.
A few years later, the overhead light stopped working in that room. It was necessary to cut through the drywall and rip out ALL of the aluminum wiring. The connections were corroded and probably very unsafe. We replaced it with copper. The lights work again. The lights have always worked in the rooms wired with copper.
Arnold
Harry Muscle wrote:

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Sounds like you're trying to substantiate denial. Too many horror stories of houses burning to the ground due to electrical wiring defects.
If you're trying to make a house addition or electrical mod, there's connectors for AL-CU. Check local building code before using.
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What you're going to find out is that everybody agrees that Al done improperly is a high risk. Then find that there is considerable disagreement over whether Al "done properly" represents enough _more_ of a risk over copper to be concerned about. So you're not going to find exactly what you want in terms of "proof".
As for "done properly": This means, from code:
    - devices with the old "CU-AL" or the newer "CO-ALR" ratings.      (primarily: outlets, switches and breaker terminals)     - copper pigtails to devices that aren't.     - Al-compatible wirenuts. COPALUM connectors if necessary      for Al to Cu connections.     - Each connection to a device (ie: outlets, switches, and some      breakers) MUST be via a screw terminal, with the wire wrapped      between 3/4 and 1 full turn. In other words, properly formed      loops. NEVER use push in terminals. Follow connection      requirements on breakers to the letter.     - wire must not be knicked, and minimally handled to avoid      work hardening.     - where appropriate the connections should have anti-oxidant      grease.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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OK, I think Arnold summarized things pretty well so far:
***
What you're going to find out is that everybody agrees that Al done improperly is a high risk. Then find that there is considerable disagreement over whether Al "done properly" represents enough _more_ of a risk over
copper to be concerned about. So you're not going to find exactly what you want in terms of "proof".
***
So in other words, AL wiring can be made safer, but even done properly it's very possible that it will never be as safe as copper .... with the possible exception of using the COPALUM tool ... no one seems to have ever been able to show that a connection made with the COPALUM tool can fail under normal conditions ... which would coincide with what SQLit said about hydrolic pressed connections never failing, since the COPALUM is basically that, a hydrolic crimping tool.
Thanks for everyone's input, Harry
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Oops, that wasn't Arnold that said that, it was Chris Lewis ... sorry about that.
Harry
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Chris Lewis wrote:

Is there any input on the life of anti-oxidant greased connections? In other words, will the grease dry out over time and cease it's anti-oxidation properties? Having a AL wired house and not trusting mass produced housing workmanship, I went through the entire house, removed all connections, cleaned them, used anti-oxidant, and insured tight connections when I reconnected. But that was 20 years ago. I've never had any problems, but I'm wondering if going through and doing it again is necessary, or maybe even a bad idea. Bob S.
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It might be worth while opening a few up and inspecting them. As long as they're still tight, and the grease coating intact (regardless of whether it's "dried out"), they're okay, and you shouldn't touch the rest.
There is evidence that disturbing it too much (as in retightening too often) is in the end going to increase the risk rather than decreasing it.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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What about connection devices that are designed for larger aluminum wiring ... but there happens to be a version of them that accepts smaller wires? There's a whole bunch of such connectors shown in this catalog: www.nsipolaris.com/pdf/connectors.pdf . I'm assuming some of these would normally be found inside of a breaker panel to attach the aluminum wire comming in from outside. As well as used to make connections for larger aluminum wire that supplies ovens, etc. However, a lot of these connectors accept 14 awg wire too, therefore, would using such connectors be safer than using wirenuts. After all the safety of wirenuts is not agreed upon by all, but how about the safety of such connectors?
Thanks, Harry
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Note the split bolt connector is not UL aprroved for aluminum. I used the 2-SR in this application. Bulky even before taping, it required the use of box extenders.

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Are split bolt connectors in general not UL approved for aluminum to copper connections? Or just the ones in the link I've provided?
Thanks, Harry
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I just did a search on split bolt, aluminum, and UL, and it looks like you must have been refering to just the link that I provided above, since this page for example lists split bolt connectors designed for joining aluminum to copper and it says that they are UL and CSA certified: www.gardnerbender.com/whats_new/products/copperAluConnectors.html . So I've just answered my own question as to what you were refering too ...
Thanks, Harry
P.S. Maybe I should start a new thread about this whole idea of using larger connectors with aluminum wire ... since this is totally off topic from where this thread started.
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