Must cut drywall to replace AL wire?

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  #1  
Old 08-27-04, 09:59 AM
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Must cut drywall to replace AL wire?

I had an earlier thread (titled 4 wires into one twist nut) and that got me thinking that I need replace my Aluminum wiring with copper throughout the house. I talked to the city building inspector, he said I would need to staple or nail the new wire to the studs every few feet and then they would come and do an inspection. It seems I have to cut open a lot of drywall. Is there another way?
 
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Old 08-27-04, 10:38 AM
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What the inspector says is true, but only if you decide to go way overboard on fixing your problem. BTW, I'd almost be that the opinions of the electrical pros on this site will be split 50/50 on agreeing with me on how to fix the "problem".

First, there is nothing inherently bad about aluminum wiring, the problem arises when aluminum wiring is USED WITH FIXTURES DESIGNED FOR US WITH COPPER WIRING. Due to their different rates of expansion and contraction, aluminum and copper shouldn't be mixed. Doing so causes intermittent opens and builds up heat. The "best" way that I've seen to fix the problem is by "pigtailing" copper wire onto the aluminum, then using the copper to connect to outlets, switches, etc. The only way to make the pigtailing operation work is to use the appropriate wire nut AND THE NO AL OX paste. This ensures positive connection between the dissimilar metals and prevents aluminum oxide which is at the root of the dissimilarity problem.

Check with an experienced electrician, or an electrical supply house, such as Graybar, CED, Rexel or whoever the regional players are in your market.

It's quick, easy, NO SHEETROCK REPAIR, and best of all it works.

Good luck.

Frank
 
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Old 08-27-04, 10:57 AM
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Wink

Had a guy that worked for me in the shop. When some one would ask what you going to do tonight.Would aways say going home and see what wall receptacle starts a fire tonight.Had aluminum wire in the whole house.
That paste does work . But only where the wires can be looked at , in a furnace , AC or the panel like. Not for everything in the home. Even when the lug said CU AL.The power companys call it a cold flow. Thats like it pays to check the lugs to see if they are still tight in the panel.
BUT MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING

If you have it all in the walls . Yes I would do the drywall way now for sure.
My .02 cents

ED
 
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Old 08-27-04, 11:24 AM
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According to the National Electrical Code, stapling is not required when new cable is fished through finished walls. Ask your inspector if local rules deviate from the NEC in this area. I doubt it. Perhaps the inspector did not take the time to fully understand your situation.

But as has been stated, aluminum wire is fine if properly terminated. During the era when aluminum was being installed, we did not know how to properly terminate it, so almost all aluminum wiring needs to be reterminated to make it safe. That's generally more feailble than replacing it. Replacement is more justified with Knob and Tube wiring, or ungrounded wiring.
 
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Old 08-31-04, 12:40 PM
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Proper AL termination?

Originally Posted by John Nelson
According to the National Electrical Code, stapling is not required when new cable is fished through finished walls. Ask your inspector if local rules deviate from the NEC in this area. I doubt it. Perhaps the inspector did not take the time to fully understand your situation.

But as has been stated, aluminum wire is fine if properly terminated. During the era when aluminum was being installed, we did not know how to properly terminate it, so almost all aluminum wiring needs to be reterminated to make it safe. That's generally more feailble than replacing it. Replacement is more justified with Knob and Tube wiring, or ungrounded wiring.
I am checking with the city inspector on the the stapling question. All the wiring I have looked at it so far in the house is pigtailed with copper wire. The pigtailing was done or contracted out by a previous owner. No purple wire nuts, but from what I read on the web, those aren't too safe anyway. How is AL wire properly terminated?
 
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Old 08-31-04, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyger52
How is AL wire properly terminated?
purple wire nuts or special crimps.
 
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Old 08-31-04, 12:55 PM
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. How is AL wire properly terminated

Best way is take it all out and go copper all the way. I have had it blow in electric furnace with paste and on AL UL set screws


My .02cents ED
 
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Old 08-31-04, 01:16 PM
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The purple wire nuts are UL listed for joining copper wire to aluminium wire. They are filled with anti-oxidant paste. Properly used they are IMHO far better than ordinary wirenuts or non-AL rated terminations. This does not mean that they are perfect, however. Even copper-copper connections made with the best wirenuts can fail.

Keep in mind also that 'backstab receptacles' are also UL listed.

I have used the purple AL rated wirenuts in a home that I lived in. Some web searching has turned up reports of their failure, but my guess is that they are safer than the above mentioned backstab terminations.

If you chose to use them, I would recommend that you be _very_ careful making the pigtail.

1) Strip the old wire back to expose fresh new conductor. Strip this to _exactly_ the length listed on the wire nut package. _Inspect_ the wire right at the point where you stripped it to make sure that you've not nicked the wire. Any nick can grow into a snapped wire.

2) Abrade the surface of the wire using 'No-Al-Ox' and a scotchbrite pad. This cuts through the aluminium oxide surface, and then coats the surface to prevent oxidation.

3) Line up all the conductors to be spliced. This connector is listed as 'no pretwisting required', and I would suggest that for this splice that pretwisting is actually worse than not pretwisting. When you twist on the connector, make sure that you twist it until a couple of twist appear in the wires outside the wirenut.

4) Don't attempt to take the wirenut off and reuse it.

-Jon
 
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