Aluminum Wiring


Old 11-29-05, 06:26 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 5
Aluminum Wiring

I need to replace an old light switch. I am not sure if there is any aluminum wiring in the house. While the house was built in the mid 50's, I do not know the history of all the electrical work done since then, but know work has been done over the years. How can I be sure there is no aluminum wiring and if I can't be sure is there a problem with using a switch made for aluminum wiring if none actually exists? Thank you.
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Old 11-29-05, 06:43 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
You won't know if any of the wiring is aluminum until you get it far enough apart to see the wires. Copper and aluminum look very difficult, so it's easy to tell. The only thing that might confuse you is the possibility of "copper-clad aluminum" and "tinned copper". These might appear to be one metal when looked at from the outside, but are not that way in the core. You can usually see this by looking at the cut end of the wire to see if it is a different color inside than on the surface.

Over the years, there have been a number of different techniques for dealing with aluminum wires, including special wire nuts and special switches and receptacles. However, in recent years, all these old practices have fallen out of favor. The only currently accepted practice is to use a special crimping tool and special crimping connectors. Unfortunately, these tools and connectors are not sold to the general public, so you need a specially trained electrician to do this work.
Old 11-29-05, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Turn off breaker. Remove switch plate. Unscrew and pull out switch if necessary. Look at wiring.

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