re-addressing the aluminum wire issue


Old 06-14-04, 07:24 PM
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re-addressing the aluminum wire issue

I bought a fixer up about two years ago and I'm currently remodeling my kitchen. To my surprise I found that the wiring to all the outlets in the kitchen we aluminum, two conductor plus ground. I also found out that the microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and conter top toster oven were running the the same 20A breaker! Please note although the microwave(12A) and toster over (15A) were used at the same time, we never blow a breaker.

Since then I have ran new #12/2, for the microwave and giving it it's own 20A, and leaving the dishwasher and garbage disposal on the other. I also relocated one outlet 16" accross the wall. I used the old box as a junction box and ran 12/2 from it to the new outlet which is GFI. Question number one, Is it ok to mix aluminum and copper this way?

I was also replacing the Whirlpool stove with a newer however used Whirlpool unit. The old unit was using #6/2 aluminum wires on a 40A breaker. The old stove unit just had the words, "copper only" but the new one has bigger letters and also bares the universal "fire" image. Do i need to replace this too? Is it really a big deal? I have heard both sides, yes replace, and no you dont need to for some friends.

Thanks for any help you can offer.


Last edited by MrWho; 06-14-04 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 06-14-04, 08:49 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Aluminum complicates things, but done properly, it can be safe.

The only reason your breaker doesn't trip with the microwave plus the toaster is that the toaster is only drawing power briefly, and probably also true of the microwave. Breakers will allow an overcurrent for a short period of time. But I'll bet if you were to set that microwave on high for twenty minutes, and then serially toast a whole loaf of bread, you would not be so lucky.

Connecting copper to aluminum is okay as long as you use those very expensive wire nuts that are rated for such connections. If not, please mitigate this hazard by remaking those connections. Also make sure that all the receptacles and switches connected to aluminum wiring are rated for aluminum.

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