Been in our surrent house for 10 months now. One of the earlier
'fixes' was to replace all of the old dark brown outlets(most were
painted) with white ones. Everything went smooth and I didn't find a
single outlet wired backwards or ungrounded.
I was changing some of the wiring in the garage and found 10-2 wire, no
breaker is over 20 amps. Simply disconnecting a wire from the fixture
caused the end to snap. Closer inspection revealed what looks like
copper-coated aluminum wiring.
Did they ever make such a thing?
The house was built in 75 and from all appearances everything has been
untouched since then except for one bathroom.
Are there any hard & fast ways to identify non-copper wiring from the
sheathing? All of the wiring in the house is romex, no bx.
If it is copper-coated aluminum what are my options other than never
True. Unfortunately, our 1966 home (USA) was wired with aluminum wiring.
Years back, I did the usual searching on the 'Net and found lots of good
stuff on what could be done with the wire other than complete
replacement (Best method if you have the cash). I received a Gov't.
publication on "fixes", which included replacing all receptacles with
Cu/Al receptacles using a torque screw driver, pig tailing with a
special connector and "approved" (expensive) professional crimping
device, using wire nuts designed for Cu-Al connections with a special
"goop" to prevent oxidation (Some of those goops were/are flammable,
though, I discovered) again from 'Net snooping. All new work in our home
has been done with copper wiring, but, lazily, we haven't done anything
else to replace the existing Al wiring. I do occasionally go around the
house feeling receptacles for heat (None so far).
The Gov't. publication, which I still have from the Consumer Product
Safety Commission, was later superseded by another, which simply noted
that you should consult with an electrical professional - the dumbing
down of the US public being assumed, I guess.
Finally, we just bought a new dishwasher, and had it installed since I'd
installed the last one and wanted to be sure a "professional" install
the new one. I mentioned the aluminum wires running up to the washer,
but the fellow had no idea as to what I was talking about. I am thinking
of having at least the Al wiring leading to the washer replaced with
copper, since it's a pretty straight run to the circuit breaker panel in
the floor below. I'll ask the electrician, after we locate a "good" one,
what else he might do to replace at least the high current wiring with
My last house built in the same era had Al wires. It had Al/Cu
compatible fixtures throughout the house and for almost 18 years
never had any problem as far as wiring goes. Still it was always in
my mind and we moved building another house for the sake of peace.
Copper clad wiring was all the rage for about 24 months, in the late "70's.
The only reason to use it was to avoid buying al/cu devices.
There is nothing wrong with the AL wire. Every power company that I know use
The problem comes when some untrained electrical worker installs it
improperly. Electricians know how and what to do with AL wire and their
The tool and crimps mentioned are for "trained" installers only. I live in
Phoenix and there is ONE wholesale house, city wide that has the tool. They
rent it out for $35.00 a day. Problem; you have to buy $500.00 of the parts
before they will order them. The tool and crimps are made by ONE company.
(their way or the highway).
If you do some reading on the "wirenut" bags and boxes that are ~10 years
old you will see al/cu. Today it is either al or cu but not both, EXCEPT for
one $3.00 a piece wirenut at HD made by IDEAL, I believe.
There are 10's of thousands of homes with AL wiring across the USA,
including mine. There are NOT 10's of thousands of fires caused by AL
wiring. Like any other product improperly installed or improperly applied
there can and will be problems. Ace hardware sells AL/CU devices at the
best price I have found unless I want to order a 100 of them from the supply
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