I have a house with Aluminum wiring throughout. My electrician replace all
plugs and switches with new ones. Tightened up the electrical box. My
electrician said it will need to be tightened in anther 30yrs because of how
soft the aluminum wire is, which is fine for me.
A few people (Home Inspector / Another electrician) told me I should replace
it with copper because of a fire hazard.
I'm going with my friend electrician who says its fine for another 30yrs.
My thought is I am _VERY_ uncomfortable w/ Al wiring--there's a reason
it has been essentially abandoned for all except large conductors.
That said, whether if I were in _your_ house I would replace all the
wiring depends on factors I can't tell remotely--primarily the current
condition and the conditions in the house itself. If there are no
signs of oxidation or over-heating at any locations at present, that
would mitigate the concern somewhat. If, otoh, even one or two of the
outlets and/or switches were replaced because of such conditions, I
would probably have done the replacement at the same time simply to
remove the potential down the road. Another one is related to the
climatic conditions--in a dry environment w/ no basement, I'd also be
concerned less. In a damp climate, otoh, I'd have much higher level of
The problem w/ the 30-yr scenario is it only takes one night while
asleep on any particular night to negate the whole thing. IMO, the
comfort of not having that one nagging area is fairly high on my list
of things I wouldn't like. While having Cu doesn't totally negate the
possibility of the same thing, history has shown a higher propensity
for problems w/ Al.
I don't know that I would do it the first week after getting a new
house, but it would certainly be on my list of "to-do" items and I
would also discount the value of the house in case of a purchase to
cover that expected expense in making any offer. I'd have to find the
house/property otherwise an overwhelming opportunity or of extreme
desirability to overcome the general aversion against Al wiring,
however, in the first place.
If i were looking at a house(to buy), and i discovered it had #12 or #14
branch circuits using AL wire then I'd politely decline to proceed with the
purchase and walk away from it. I've seen way to many AL wires with
corrosion and heated joints - i dont want anyting to do with it. I havnt
seen problems (only minor ones) with large AL service conductors but even
then, if i were doing a service for my own house? it would be copper - no
question about it.
Trade houses with your 'friend' and let him and his kids sleep in the
house with the aluminum wiring.
My house has the supposedly safe copper-clad aluminum wiring and I will
be replacing all of it this fall. I'm not a fear-mongoring wacko that
doesn't have granite counters because of radon but there is a reason
why animals run from fire.
It's not that they need be new. It's that they need be certified for
aluminum wiring. Are they? Do you have any of the boxes they came
in? If not, you can remove one and look what is embossed on the
plastic. Be sure to reinstall it the way one is supposed to. (I think
that means tightly but I'm not sure. :) )
Don't konw what that means.
Don't confuse copper-clad aluminum with aluminum. AIUI the first has
Replacing the wiring is pretty much prohibited by cost.
The best site on aluminum wiring I have seen is:
Last time I looked most of the information at the site was derived from
a Consumer Product Safety Commission investigation, which spent a lot of
time looking at aluminum wiring (and tried to force a recall).
The best link at the site for options is:
This is written by a professional engineer who did extensive research on
aluminum connections for the CPSC. Based on the research, the paper has
a wide range of fixes, including just monitoring. Using rated CO/ALR
devices is one option, but there is a recommended procedure for making
the connection including applying antioxide paste to the wire then
abrading the wire to remove the surface layer of aluminum oxide, which
is an insulator. There is also a detailed procedure for making
connections with wirenuts.
The only fix recommended by the CPSC is using special COPALUM high
pressure crimp connections which can only be done by a trained
electrician using a special tool; quite expensive if you can even find
If I had aluminum wiring I would at least go through circuits that are
likely to have high amp loads, redo all wirenut connections, and pigtail
out copper wires to receptacles - using the recommendations in the
There is a new device that is as good or better than Copalum and does
not require special tools and training.
Also bear in mind the inspect-ny site is a home inspector site with
the major intent of driving down the purchase price of homes.
Most of these scary stories are 20-30 years old. I think if your
aluminum wired home is not having problems it probably won't if you
don't screw with it. These problems were usually traced to bad
workmanship by the original installer or homeowner intervention. I
don't like aluminum on "binding screw" devices but I also think there
is a lot of hype in the legend. There is no problem at all in aluminum
in a "barrel and set screw" type lug. In fact most of the lugs are
aluminum alloys themselves. They actually test better with aluminum
wire than with copper.
That's the way I felt since the house is 30yrs old and my electrician
replaced ALL switches and plugs. I thought it
was the home inspector trying to drum up some business for HIS electrician
You basically said the same as my friend.
Nobody has ever established the danger when CO/ALr devices were used
and properly installed. These devices use a binding screw with an
alloy that matches the expansion characteristics of the aluminum wire,
the screw is bigger and the bearing surface is ridged. If your
electrician used CO/ALr devices you should be fine.
It is comforting that you know the intent of the site.
Last time I looked, the "home inspector" site was almost entirely
information that came from the CPSC investigation of 15 and 20 Amp
branch circuit connections. That included extensive testing of aluminum
wire connections. I know of no other extensive tests. One finding was
that 'properly' made aluminum connections could fail. Since the CPSC
tried to force a recall of aluminum wire, they must have thought their
research was adequate as a basis for the recall and able to withstand
the inevitable lawsuit. (The court found, in the inevitable lawsuit,
that aluminum wire was not a "consumer product" and could not be
regulated by the CPSC.)
My understanding is that connectors for large aluminum wire deform the
wire (with screw or crimp) which breaks the aluminum oxide layer. That
is not likely with wirenuts or "binding screws". The AlumiConn
connectors look like they would also deform the wire and break the oxide
without other prep. Looks interesting.
I had aluminum wiring in my house that was built in 1971. I bought the
house in '88' so it was 17 years old at the time. I went to install a
ceiling fan and noticed that the wire ends were very brittle and they
broke off in my hand. I really had some concerns but didn't act on
them. In 1994, I decided to replace my deteriorated clapboard siding
with vynal. I tore off all the clapboard siding and while I was there,
I replaced all of the wire runs in the exterior walls with copper. This
was very easy since the studs were already exposed. By the time I
worked all the way around the house, all the aluminum wire runs were
replaced with copper. Then there were only about 5 or 6 interior wall
wire runs to do. I did one or two a weekend. It was a very easy job for
a do-it-yourselfer. I had the city inspector check it out and
everything was a first time pass. I am really glad I did it after
checking the conditions of most of the aluminum wires. They were in
really bad shape. I also replaced all of the electrical outlets and
switches at the same time. They were cheap and I had no issues with a
different outlet going out every 2 or three months or so. I completed
the whole project in 1994 and have never had a problem since. I would
strongly encourage you to consider replacing your aluminum with copper.
You should also make contact with your home owners insurance agent.
Copper wiring lowered my insurance rates.
I would not chance it.
At least replace the wiring to the heavy appliances, refrig,
washer/dryer, furnace, aire cond, power tools, etc.
Powering a few lights or a vacuum cleaner or tv should be fine.
On Thu, 31 Aug 2006 02:05:25 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:
I suggest you look at the power draw of a vacuum cleaner before you
say things like that. Most "real" vacuums use more current (13a or so)
than the furnace blower (1/4hp), washer (1/2hp) and frige (1/6HP)
combined. The dryer will be using 8ga wire in a setscrew type lug if
it is aluminum so that is not even a factor.
I forgot to mention. I hope this guy used the APPROVED outlets
switches, etc. They clamp tighter on the wire. Dont even think of
using those cheap 49 cent ones you get at HD or Walmart.
They are labelled CO/ALR.
On Wed, 30 Aug 2006 14:15:24 GMT, "Born2" < email@example.com> wrote:
>I have a house with Aluminum wiring throughout. My electrician replace all
IMHO, I am not your electrician, or own your home:
Aluminum wire is safe. Before the flames, I still use it, and many
electricians use it for service enterance cables. Services are almost
100% inspected, so they are they are looked at enough to prevent
It is when unsafely used, it becomes unsafe. The NEC addresses the
safe installation of Aluminum, and when electricians don't use the
codes, is when dangerious situations happen. So I think we can all
agree, only dangerious wiring is wiring an unsafe electrician
Contact your insurance company, see if they 'cover' your home. Check
with electrical code enforcement. Add this to your ablity to reason,
and then decide your course of action.
If I had aluminum wiring in my house, I would ensure all
connections(where the problems generally happen) were safe. Meaning I
would pig tail all ends with copper, so I can use regular receptacles,
and check all existing connections for the proper wire nuts. Then if
I was still concerned, I would put an arc-fault protection on those
circuits, since it's the arcing at bad connections in the past that
has caused problems, not the wire itself. The AFCI breakers might be
cheaper than rewiring a whole house. But then this is me trying to
guess about wiring, I do not currently have.
Was your current electrican licensed, and insured? You only want
qualified persons working on your house.
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.