residential electrical wiring in older home

Page 3 of 3  
On 3/24/2012 6:58 PM, Nate Nagel wrote:

I agree that connections are the problem. As RBM said, the problem is esentially only with #12 and #10 wire on 15 and 20A branch circuits. Aluminum is in common use in larger sizes.
About 1971 UL removed the listing for wire and devices (receptacles, switches,...) then came out with new standards. The new devices were marked "CO/ALR". According to gfretwell the new wire was harder and not as likely to extrude/creep. (Most of the wire in use is "old technology".)
The CPSC appears to have been moving toward a recall (which would have been enormously expensive), but in the inevitable court case wiring was ruled to not be a "consumer product" and thus not under the purview of the CPSC.
If anyone is dealing with these aluminum branch circuits, recommendations on making connections, based on extensive research done for the CPSC, is available at: http://www.kinginnovation.com/pdfs/ReducingFire070706.pdf A basic element is cleaning the wire to remove the oxide and applying antioxide paste.
--
bud--


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 3/24/2012 5:26 PM, Doug wrote:

I bought the house I'm currently living in in 1987. It was built in 1970 and has aluminum wiring. At the time of sale I required the seller to swap out every wall receptacle and switch with COALAR units and the work to be done by a licensed electrician.
Every house in my subdivision was built at the same time with the same wiring. Neither me nor any of my neighbors (to my knowledge) has had any problems related to the aluminum wiring. We all have circuit breaker panels.
I used to take off the face plates every year and check to see if the wire loops were loosening under the screw heads but gave up that exercise after about 3 years when none were noted to have become loose.
I'm well aware of the supposed risks associated with aluminum wiring and I would have preferred to have copper. However, my experience has not been bad. I suspect that if the homeowner respects the amperage ratings of each breaker circuit and avoids overloads, they will not have problems. Copper is more forgiving of overloads due to lower resistance and therefore less heating and attendant expansion/contraction at connections.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks Peter. What is COALAR switches? As best as I could see on the net it's copper aluminum automation ready switches and I have no idea what that means? One thing I've learned is that this house "supposedly" per the owner has copper wiring but personally I don't trust it to be so unless I can verify it. He did say that in the early 90's it has a small fire on the roof at the garage end of house due to a lightening strike. I don't know if that has any connection to the wiring and since I don't know this owner, I'm suspicious to say the least.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 3/25/2012 3:12 PM, Doug wrote:

Those are devices with connectors made to accept aluminum. As practically everyone has responded, the house in question is simply to old for you to be concerned about small gauge aluminum building wire.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 3/25/2012 3:12 PM, Doug wrote:

I'm not an electrician. Rather than cut and paste numerous texts or post a list of web links, I'll simply mention that my previous post used a non-standard abbreviation for the hardware. It is better known as CO/ALR. I hate to mention specific brands or search engines, but using the well known search engine that begins with G, the first page of hits disclosed several hits (a) describing the hardware and the application for it, (b) links to well known electrical supply manufacturers current selling the hardware, and (c) big box and web retailers selling the hardware. I'm sure you can find all you need to satisfy yourself.
P.S. The "proper" way to deal with a home with AL wiring is highly controversial depending upon what you read and who is speaking for their own self-interest. It ranges from minimalist mitigation (CO/ALR) hardware to a complete rip-out and replacement with CU wiring. Professional high pressure crimping to CU pigtails for every connection and junction is a popular but quite expensive intermediate way to deal with the issue. My biggest problem recently was finding a licensed electrician who was knowledgeable and felt competent and willing to work on my wiring. The first few a I called said they wouldn't work on it for fear of future litigation from me in the event of an electrical fire, or because they had no experience working on it and couldn't take the time to get trained.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Doug, there was a report published in 2008 by Underwriters Laboratories and the National Fire Protection Association titled, "Residential Electrical System Aging Reserch Project". The researchers tore apart 30 homes aged 30-110 years and evaluated the wiring as they found it It's the best information available on what to look for with respect to wiring in older homes including some great pictures showing what you might find. The report is free to download. Just Google the title.
Tomsic
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Tomsic, thank you for this information.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

I was reading this thread till I got to this reply from you. First off, lightning is NOT caused by the wiring, nor is the wiring very likely to attract lightning. Lightning mostly hits where ever it is, but tall metal structures can attract it, such as antenna towers and even tall trees. Whatever gave you the idea that the fire which they said was caused by lightning has anything to do with the wiring is just plain stupid.
I think you're being much too suspicious...... I understand you checking out all the parts of the house for problems, but how many more people on here will it take to tell you that aluminum wiring was not used in the 50's. I'd be more concerned about the wiring on the end of the house struck by lightning having a few charred connections from the strike. I'd also want to see the attic on that end of the house for charred wood and structural damage.
If you are that worried, hire a contractor/inspector to check the house. In most or all places you have that right, as long as YOU pay them. And why are you asking for prices on the internet? No one knows what prices are like in your part of the world. That's about as stupid as calling your doctor and asking him to disgnose your kidney stones over the phone.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 27 Mar 2012 04:45:23 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@123.com wrote:

Ok, I got your point. Thanks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 3/25/2012 8:23 AM, Peter wrote:

>

A minor problem is that electricians do not necessarily know what the actual problems and fixes are.
If you are interested you can read: http://www.kinginnovation.com/pdfs/ReducingFire070706.pdf (also posted elsewhere). You will probably know more than electricians. The advice is based on extensive research on aluminum connections.
Trivia note, the "R" in CO/ALR is "revised".

Resistance is not a factor. Aluminum wires have a similar resistance to copper since they are larger - #12 aluminum on a 15A circuit, #10 on a 20A.
--
bud--



Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 3/26/2012 11:53 AM, bud-- wrote:

Bud, are you familiar with copper clad aluminum? I first saw it when I worked for an electrical supplier in the early 1970's during a copper shortage. The company was selling a lot of aluminum Romex and then we started getting in copper clad aluminum Romex. One day the darnedest thing showed up from another supplier, copper clad thermostat wire in 18 AWG. I discovered it when I picked up the reel and it darn near flew out of my hands because it was so light. If you've ever picked up a hollow display auto battery, you know what I mean. I hadn't seen copper clad aluminum for years until recently when I got an Email from a network component supplier for 24 AWG copper clad Cat5 network cable. I just called my buddy at Inline Electric and he's never heard of copper clad aluminum Romex so I assume it hasn't made a comeback in the local electrical supply chain. But dang, copper is getting expensive! o_O
TDD
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 3/26/2012 1:27 PM, The Daring Dufas wrote:

I have never seen copper clad. I haven't seen much aluminum 15/20A branch circuit wire either. My understanding was that copper clad was late in the period when aluminum was used for branch circuits to eliminate the surface oxide problem, which would match with what you wrote. Given the problems around 1970 I would think copper would have to get pretty expensive to see aluminum used for branch circuits again. Would be interesting how trouble free "new technology" copper clad aluminum wire is, used with CO/ALR devices. Might be as good as copper.
I wouldn't want to use aluminum or copper clad for thermostat or signal wires either. Opinions of punch down block and RJ jack manufacturers would be interesting.
--
bud--


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 3/27/2012 12:23 PM, bud-- wrote:

I don't believe I've ever seen copper clad either. From the description I read, it's supposed to be soft and pliable, and when you cut it, you should see the aluminum center. On rare occasions, I've run into very soft copper conductors, which I just assumed was a manufacturing issue. I've also run into very hard, almost brittle copper conductors. Maybe the soft ones were clad, and my dull pliers just wiped the copper over the aluminum.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Was the cost of copper so much more than aluminum that it made copper clading cost effective?
When one considers the costs of the R&D to get the ratios right, the retooling of the factory to manufacture the clad wire (including the additional spare parts, training of workers and repair technicians, documentation, etc.) the approval process to get it NEC approved, etc. etc. it seems that the cost of copper would have to exceed the cost of aluminum by a substantial amount for a long, long time in order to make up the cost to switch over to clad.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 3/27/2012 3:45 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Here's a link to a supplier I use for video surveillance systems that is now selling copper clad CAT5 cable. ^_^
http://www.supercircuits.com/Video-Cables/CAB-CAT5-1000E
TDD
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

...
...
Studies have shown that the loose connections first appear at 3.1 years. ;-)
...

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

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.