I have a question to do with the aluminum wiring I have in my house ...
There doesn't seem to be much objection to the safety of CO/ALR devices
(switches and oulets), unlike twist ons (read P.S.) The biggest
objection being that you can only change your switches and oulets, not
your lights, GFCI, etc.
My main problem that I still need a solution for in my home is
connecting my CU approved lighting to the AL wiring. What do you think
of the idea of using a CU/ALR outlet to make the transition between AL
and CU. I'd place an oulet box in my attic (all the lights I'm
concerned about have an attic above them), put an CU/ALR outlet in it,
connect the AL wire to two of the screws and connect the CU wire to the
other set of screws. The only thing left is the grounding wires which
I could connect to two seperate gounding screws in the box or if code
requires it use a twist on.
So has anyone ever tried this? Any comments, feedback, etc?
P.S. I know the Ideal-65 purple twist on connectors are considered safe
by some for pigtailing aluminum to copper wire, however, there's also
others who still consider them fire hazards. I'm hoping to stay away
from these if possible and would rather make any aluminum to copper
connections in some other way. Hence my question.
If I was doing it, I would use wire-nuts, but I would use the procedure
in the paper at
(This is a paper writen by a PhD Professional Engineer based on
extensive testing of aluminum connections done for the Consumer Product
Safety Commission. It includes a wide range of fixes for aluminum wiring
based on that research.)
In addition to a detailed procedure for connecting to CO/ALR devices,
the paper has a detailed procedure for using wire-nuts with aluminum
wire - including brand names. My impression is that wire-nuts, when
installed in accordance with the procedure, are more reliable than
CO/ALR devices (particularly in a wire-through configuration that has 2
connections to the device per wire splice).
Ideal #65 wire-nuts, which are probably the only UL listed ones for
aluminum wire, are definitely not recommended by the paper.
Harry Muscle wrote:
Thanks for the responses. I've read that website
(http://www.inspect-ny.com/aluminum/alreduce.htm ) before, however,
there's a very good post a few years back that challanges some of what
it says there. It's called "Aluminum Wiring Question" and here's a
link to it on google:
Post 18 especially, 16 is good too. In that thread it does talk a bit
about some possible alterations to the methods mentioned in the
original site. I might use those on aluminum to aluminum connections,
however, the copper to aluminum connections still scare me due to the
different thermal expansions of these two metals and due to the fact
that it's a bad idea to have these two dissimilar metals touching each
Also thanks for pointing out the code requirements that I might be
breaking if I go with my original idea.
I have however stumbled accross another product that I'm thinking of
using. I've started another thread called "Using Splicers and Tap
Connectors with Aluminum Wiring instead of Twist On Wire Nuts?" to talk
about it. It sounds quite promising ... I hope.
Consider replacing all the alum wiring. By the time you screw around
with all these special (and costly) devices, it might be cheaper and
easier to just replace it. Just do one piece at a time. I realize
that at times it's hard to get into walls, etc., but consider the
consequences of a fire...
Alum wiring is garbage....
At least replace the lines that go to outlets which have loads. A
simple light fixture uses minimal amperage, so you could probably
leave them, and just check the connections.
Thats sort of what I was referring to. In the kitchen you will have
heating devices and refrig, etc. Bathroom, hair dryers.etc. I'd also
do any outlet where a computer or AC will be used, and also the
furnace wiring, plus any sort of workshops. Assuming you have a
basement, just fun new wires up from the basement to outlets. If you
are real careful, you can remove the baseboards and make a small hole
behind them to fish the wire, or sometimes just shove it up to the
outlet hole (after box is removed). Of course any old wiring must be
disconnected that stays in the walls. Those often go up to light
boxes. Just chop off the ends (on both ends), and leave them in the
walls. Or they may daisy chain across walls from outlet to outlet, so
the same there. Anyone that knows wiring can fish wire thru walls by
only making a few small holes, or none at all. Be sure you have a
fish tape and buy a 2 foot drill bit with a hole in the end, made just
for that work. You drill the hole, then stick a piece if steel wire
in the hole on the bit. Push the bit up the hole and have someone on
the other end grab the wire. Then use that steel wire to tape it to
your romex and pull it thru. I'd also replace ALL basement wiring
that is exposed and the same for garage or anywhere else it's exposed.
Be sure to write down what you did. In a few years you'll forget, and
if you want to move an AC or something you want to know what is what.
Note: Some types of insulation can make this a royal pain in the butt.
If you got that poured in stuff, be careful when you remove wall boxes
or you could end up with a pile of mess on the floor and no insulation
in the wall. Newspaper and plastic bags help to stop the insulation
from pouring out.
I did this same thing myself a few times. I found that the underside
of the kitchen cabinets worked great for stapling the wires to those
counter outlets. Just dont nail thru your formica.
One other thing, a piece of 1/2" condiut shoved up a drilled hole
often helps feed the romex up. Of course you then got to take it all
the way off the far end of the cable.
Very expensive when you have to rip open all the walls to get access. Much
cheaper to have an electrician put in those copalum crimps on all outlets.
A 1972-1973 home may have a better grade of Aluminum wire.
If I remember right, dissimilar metals are a problem when in contact
with an electrolye. Antioxide paste should prevent that.
The thread is interesting reading. #18 makes a major point about not
using emery paper, which should not be used on any electrical apparatus,
but the Aronstein paper says "#240 grit "wet-or-dry" abrasive paper",
which is probably not available in emery. #18 specifically recomends
silicon carbide, which sounds like a good idea.
#18 does not like the idea of using a wire brush, likely steel, to clean
oxides off of wire. The Ilso site in your other post, by coincidence,
says the "cable should then be cleaned with a wire brush". Aronstein
says abrasive paper.
#18 also talks about active (which break down oxides) and passsive
antioxidants. Anyone heard of "active" antioxidants? Would be nice to
know which (if any) are.
My main observaiton, however, is that #18s comments are based more on
theory (some of it specifically related to welding aluminum). Aronsteins
recommendations are based on extensive research testing aluminum
connections, at one time involving 7500 connections with aluminum wire.
There may be better information around, but I havn't seen it.
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.