wiring problems

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Old 09-21-00, 09:13 AM
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Ok...here it goes. I have a couple of questions..hope you r patient. I have a 1970 house and in checking the breaker box it looks like we have a mixture of wiring. There are a few wires which have aluminum written on them. I assume that means they are and should they be replaced?
Secondly and the problem that made us even look at the box is that when running the microwave or the hair dryer the lights dim down and flicker. In checking the breaker we found out that on one 30 amp breaker it is running (are you ready?) The microwave, the lights and receptacles . in the family room, dining room, hallway, bathroom, one half of the living room, and 2 bedrooms. Is this safe? In the living room it as powering our home entertainment center which has 8 plug in components.
Do we need to rewire our house and box to 1. get rid of the aluminum wiring and 2. take some use off of this one breaker? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you!
 
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Old 09-21-00, 12:42 PM
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I'd definately split up the circuit to at least get all that load off of one breaker,
witheach room on it's own, including the bathroom on it's own.
 
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Old 09-21-00, 03:21 PM
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hello alexsyellowjello,
ok first off the alum. wireing is aproved by the code and ok to have in a home as long as it is installed correctly. i persionly dont like it, and feel it is dangerious in small sizes, but this is my own persional opnion. whin alum wireing is installed correctly the splices and connections will be coated with a black substance, this prevents corrosen, the common name 4 this black substance is nolox. if u open up a recep or j box and find u have none then it was installed incorrectly, and needs to be corrected ASAP, as corrosen is the leading cause of fires in alum wireing.
ok now lets address the 30 amp breaker. since this 30 amp breaker feeds standard receps this is not a safe situation. the code states that 15 and 20 amp receps must be proctected by no more then a 20 amp breaker, even if this is #10 wire, which i doubght it cant be done. my gess is that the breaker was poping due to an overload and some 1 replaiced it with the 30. u need to split this circuit up, the microwave needs its own circuit, and the bath as well. i would also put the bedrooms on another circuit,the lights on another and leave the remainder on existing circuit chainging the breaker out to the proper size breaker which would be copper #12- 20, copper #14- 15
alum #12- 15, alum #10- 20.
 
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Old 09-21-00, 08:10 PM
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Both Gary and Sparky is right.

I do have another thought or two. I have been requested over the years to diagnose many such electrical problems as the one that you mention, especially in the time frame that you mention the house was built. You mentioned that your lights dim down and flicker when you run a hair dryer or microwave. I understand that the microwave and the bathroom for the hair dryer is on the same circuit. Although, even if they are on different circuits, they may have the same problem.

In the 70s we did not have the wiring pattern that we use today. Bathrooms could even be on 15 amp breakers with your garage, etc. What was done VERY commonly was that when the receptacles were installed the wires whether 12 ga or 14 ga, these conductors were just plugged into the back of receptacles. This is where I have experienced many instances matching what you are discribing. When plugging the wires into the back of the receptacle we just had a little spring that held the wire. When load is applied to a circuit, no matter the amount of load. A certain amount of heat is produced. When we get to pushing a 20 amp load on receptacles these little springs tended to loose their tensil strength, and cause a bad connection.

I suggest that if you pull out all of the receptacles on the circuit, for a visual inspection, that runs these hair dryers and microwave, you will find several with heating of the insulation on the wires showing a loose connection. This will cause the flickering, and dimming, and is a fire hazard. Replace those damaged receptacles and mount the conductors on the screws instead of plugging into the back of the receptacles

Since the 70s the NEC and UL has recognized this problem and now limit the hole size in the new receptalces used today to prohibit 12 ga wire from being plugged in, thus limiting the amount of load relying on these spring clips and lessoning the chance of causing the deteriaton affect caused by the larger loads.

Now about your aluminim wiring. YOu have a house that was built after research on the aluminum wiring was made, and after electricians started worrying about the smaller aluminum conductors. Most aluminum wiring installed in the 70s were for range or the like using much larger conductors. If you have aluminum #6 or larger and it has the antioxidation inhibiter grease applied at all connections, you should be able to worry less. We have had little concern on the larger conductors of aluminum wiring. The 25 year controversy has been the concern of accepting the use of smaller aluminum conductors such as 12 Ga and 10 ga aluminum wires.

The 30 amp breaker on receptacles is like the previous replies said a flat no no. Receptacles designed for convenience outlet receptacles in a dwelling is limited to 15 or 20 amp rating. Split up these circuits. I suspect sparky is right saying that someone did a do it yourself fix without knowing he set up a hazard. It worked and he was happy, he probably didn't know not to increase the fuse size over the amp rating of the wire.

As to your several plugs coming from your entertainment center, you should be ok if plugged into equipment designed for multiplugs. Please don't use the small lamp cord extension cords. Use the 14 ga or 12 ga appliance extension cords with multi receptacle design and with the on off switch and possibly a thermal cut out push button built in. This should secure your safety. A home entertainment center with 6 or 8 plugs from different equipment in the home entertainment center would not use 1/2 the amp load that your toaster or coffee pot uses each by them selves. This entertainment equipment is electronic with small load usage. Toasters and coffee pots are resistance loads causing heating, same as a hair dryer. These use larger loads even loading a circuit one by themselves.

Good luck

Wg
 
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Old 09-21-00, 09:13 PM
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After reading these replys, I thought I would write to talk about something. 1st, the replys were all good.

As an inspector, I have been to my share of meetings and seminars. Lately the view on the anti-oxidation compound used on aluminum wireing has been changing.

Many manufacturers are saying that, to use "nolox" on their breakers, lugs etc... would violate their listing. Some "nolox" has been found to damage any adjacent plastic parts of breaker panels, such as the interior supports. UL (underwriters lab) was asked about this, and their reply was this. If the manufacturer requires use of "nolox" on their terminations, they (the manufacturer) have to provide it already installed in the terminations. In other words, this compound is not to be applied in the field!

I know that there are new wirenuts that are listed for Cu/Al, so there is no need for the compound to be applied in this case, which was one of the biggest concerns for electricians. I remember using the compound on aluminum to copper connections at receptacle locations, to reduce the corrosion.

I just wanted you guys to realize that some of the old methods of doing things are not always the best.

It is always hard to try to learn new things, but we need to be open to new ideas!

Keep up the good replys on this site. RM
 
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Old 09-21-00, 10:21 PM
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Rick M I think we are both right!

The following two copies of the sections of the NEC states that Rick is right if the manufacturer's instruction prohibits the antioxidation inhibitors.

Ul requires that the instructions must be followed. But Ul also requires the corrosion problem of aluminum connections be addressed. Either the equipment has the method to limit corrosion included in its manufacturing method or the inhibitor must be instructed to be applied.

We do have a question on the table in the electrical inductry that RickM is mentioning. The stance the way I understand it is now, is that the manufacturers instructions must be followed and the instructions must have already included the answer to the corrosion resistance in its instruction wording to meet ul testing requirements to be approved as a connection for aluminum connections.

110-14. Electrical Connections
Because of different characteristics of dissimilar metals, devices such as pressure terminal or pressure splicing connectors and soldering lugs shall be identified for the material of the conductor and shall be properly installed and used. Conductors of dissimilar metals shall not be intermixed in a terminal or splicing connector where physical contact occurs between dissimilar conductors (such as copper and aluminum, copper and copper-clad aluminum, or aluminum and copper-clad aluminum), unless the device is identified for the purpose and conditions of use. Materials such as solder, fluxes, inhibitors, and compounds, where employed, shall be suitable for the use and shall be of a type that will not adversely affect the conductors, installation, or equipment.


110-3. Examination, Identification, Installation, and Use of Equipment
with the equipment
(b) Installation and Use. Listed or labeled equipment shall be installed and used in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling.
 
  #7  
Old 09-22-00, 11:16 PM
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hi there!! Just wanted to thank all you guys for your help with my questions. I guess we have our work cut out for us. Glad we were able to find this problem before something bad happened. thanks again <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by alexsyellowjello:
Ok...here it goes. I have a couple of questions..hope you r patient. I have a 1970 house and in checking the breaker box it looks like we have a mixture of wiring. There are a few wires which have aluminum written on them. I assume that means they are and should they be replaced?
Secondly and the problem that made us even look at the box is that when running the microwave or the hair dryer the lights dim down and flicker. In checking the breaker we found out that on one 30 amp breaker it is running (are you ready?) The microwave, the lights and receptacles . in the family room, dining room, hallway, bathroom, one half of the living room, and 2 bedrooms. Is this safe? In the living room it as powering our home entertainment center which has 8 plug in components.
Do we need to rewire our house and box to 1. get rid of the aluminum wiring and 2. take some use off of this one breaker? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you!
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

 
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