House with Aluminum and Copper Wiring

Old 06-20-05, 09:25 AM
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House with Aluminum and Copper Wiring

We are buying a house that has Aluminum and Copper Wiring...Several of the outlets have open circuits in the house..It was built in 1979 so I dont know if it has two or three wires behind the outlet..also I'm not sure if its Hot/Ground or Hot/neutral or whatever that is switched..How would I test the outlets to see which wires are reversed? Also How can I make the Aluminum Wiring Safer? My dad said to get something at Home Depot or something..It's like a grease lubricant or something to put on it so it doesnt overheat...Can we just rewire the house with the newer safer Romex Wireing? How hard is it to do? How much would it cost for a 2200 sq. foot house? Is it as simple as just pulling the wire through and connecting the outlets to the wire on one end and connecting the other end to the breaker box? Can we do this without punching holes in the walls?
Old 06-20-05, 11:11 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Hi there,

When I purchased my house, which was built in 1972, it also had aluminum wiring in it. The aluminum wire that was installed was primarily used for the heavy duty appliances, like the A/C and oven. Everything else was copper.

Personally I hate aluminum. Over time, and we're talking like 1-2 years at least, believe it or not but your utility bills will be higher if you use a lot of aluminum as opposed to copper. The reason you will pay more is because since aluminum is not as conductive as copper, it requires more electricity to power whatever appliance you are using as opposed to copper, which would not require as much electricity. Simply put, the less resistance the better. And since copper is the second most conductive natural metal, copper is a good bet.

In case you are wondering, silver is the most conductive natural metal.
Old 06-20-05, 11:40 AM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
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You can buy a tester for $8-10 that plugs into a receptacle. It will tell if the wires are reversed or dead. Black wires on glod screw. White wihires on silver screws. Problem could be in a receptacle other than the one you are testing.
If you have aluminum wires on receptacles I would replace all the receptacles. Make sure you use the ones that are rated for aluminum wire.
All the receptacles on copper wire, make sure the wires are connected under the screws. The ones that poke into a hole in the back(back stab) are known to be problems. Aluminum wires should never be used in back stabs.
Old 06-20-05, 11:50 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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You should have 3 wire wiring that is grounded. I doubt you have any wires reversed certainly not a hot/ground reverse. You probably got this information that the house has open circuits from the Home inspector?? Most likely you have some opens in your neutral wires (this gives a hot/ground reverse indication on a tester when you apply a load) of the branch circuits. I would almost bet it is backstabbed outlets with aluminum wire and these backstabs have failed. A backstabbed receptacle is simply a small hole in the back of the receptacle that the wire is pushed into and held there by a pressure spring type device. These are notorious for causing failed connections especially with aluminum wire. If you are not familiar with residential wiring and aluminum wire and how to deal with it read this article.
As for rewiring the house I dont think it is necessary and some damage to the walls is almost inevitable. It is a task that is no small undertaking for the DIYer. No way to tell you the cost but it wont be cheap. You should read at least two or three books on residential wiring be fore you attempt this yourself. Hope this helps some

Last edited by Roger; 06-20-05 at 09:58 PM.

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