Aluminum wiring question

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  #1  
Old 08-07-06, 09:07 AM
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Aluminum wiring question

hi, I am purchasing an older mobile home that is an absolute dollhouse and still structurally very sound. It has aluminum wiring inside. 100amp service. The present occupants have all the typical appliances such as washer, dryer, t.v , computers , stereos, etc. My question is this: as long as all the outlets are aluminum compatible recepticles is there anything else specific that I should be worried about. thanks.
p.s. In my other stick built home I have replaced panel with newer one and have completely rewired my present home but that was all with copper wiring and 12/2 NM. Does the mobile home present anything special I should be afraid of? thanks again.
 
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Old 08-07-06, 09:13 AM
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Any residence with aluminum wiring needs to be thoroughly inspected before purchasing. This should be done with a qualified electrician very familiar with aluminum wiring. Do not just chose the first electrician in the book, instead make sure you interrogate the electrician to ascertain their knowledge, familiarity and prior experience with aluminum wiring. Do not rely on a home inspector to inspect aluminum wiring.

The electrician will be able to point out any immediate problems and should also be able indicate and places to watch in the future.

Also, before purchasing, make sure that you can obtain insurance. Some insurance companies will not insure homes with aluminum wiring. others may charge a very hefty premium for said insurance.

If you purchase a home with aluminum wiring, be prepared to perform a similar inspection yearly. While you may be able to learn what to look for and perform some inspections yourself, do not completely eliminate a professional.

Aluminum wiring, when properly installed and maintained is safe, however, when it fails, the results can be deadly.
 
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Old 08-07-06, 10:47 AM
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thank you....today I just came from looking at the actual panel box in the MH. It is not 100 amp as stated but rather 60 fuse panel. The six circuits coming from the panel are all marked #12NM (white romex). Should I assume that this romex is not aluminum wiring? The romex goes to each and every outlet. I did not remove the ceiling fan to check there. Also, at the outside meter which is on a pole next to the MH below the meter is the box with the 200amp main disconnect for the MH. Then the wiring is fed thru pvc underground and comes up inside of a closet where the existing 60 amp service is. thanks! So, does this mean that I probably do not have aluminum?
 
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Old 08-07-06, 11:42 AM
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bring a screwdriver and pull out a few switches or receptacles. That will give you an answer.

or if you are comfortable, take out the screw holding the panel cover on, yu will see all of the wires then and will know right away.

I am not sure if Romex ever made an aluminum wire or not.
 
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Old 08-07-06, 11:51 AM
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I somehow doubt that Romex is being used a brand name, and suspect that Bernard means NM cable.

As dim_bulb says, look at the wire.
 
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Old 08-07-06, 01:28 PM
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thanks, i was referring to romex in generic terms...sorry for doing that. i actually meant that all the circuits coming from the box were 12/2NM with white sheathing. i will return to the MH and remove switch plates and receptacles and check for copper. Would the fact that the MH has a brand new electric dryer and 30gl hot water tank. Are those acceptable appliances to run with aluminum?
-Bob
 
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Old 08-08-06, 07:30 AM
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I am not all that well versed in AL wiring but I believe the biggest concern when working with it, is the connections particularly appliaces require copper connections so there has to be sme kind of connection joining the alluminum wiring to copper. It is this joint that problems occur from a chemical reaction (oxidation) between teh 2 metals (CU and AL are dissimilar and this speeds oxidation) So check your appliances and see if you can see how they are connected to the electrical system. If they are simply wired using the purple wirenuts, you are going to want to have them redone using amore reliable method.

If you take a receptacle off and see the AL wire connected directly to it, check to see if the receptacle (or switch) is marked CU/ALR. But even if it does, you still may wantto look at an alternative connection.

but this I do know - most 60A panels are utilizing 15A fuses, and you have stated there is #12 wire, wich in the world of copper means it should be on a 20A breaker, but there is no rules on oversizing wire, but in the worl of aluminum wire, you typically went 1 gauge higher to get the same ampacity as the copper counterpart. So for a 15A circuit with AL you would use #12 wire as opposed to #14 if this were copper.

keep in mind, any appliance can be "run with aluminum" because the wire is just delivering the electricity, the appliance dont care how it is deliverd since it is the same electricity. The question is "is it safelty connected to that appliance?"
 
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Old 08-08-06, 07:38 AM
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Dim Bulb has addressed some of the concerns with aluminum wiring. The bigger problem is with heat build up. With receptacles there is motion to the receptacle as cords are plugged in and pulled out. To a lesser extent this happens with switches as the switches are moved.

Eventually the motion can cause connections to loosen. When an aluminum-copper connection loosens, the heat build up is worse because of the dissimilar metals.

Fixed in place appliances and fixed circuit breaker panels suffer less movement and have larger wires, so they suffer less from heat build up. Aluminum wiring is less of an issue in these instances.
 
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Old 08-08-06, 08:02 AM
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oh crap, my bad, my mind was thinking faster than my finger could type.

I wanted to point out that the oxidation that occurs causes the once conductive aluminim to now become an insulator at the joint and this will cause heat build up as it becomes harder and harder for electrons to pass through.

thanks for pointing that out racraft
 
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Old 08-08-06, 06:37 PM
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thank you both very nuch....i now have a much clearer understanding.....i have also contracted with a licenced electrician who has much experience with mobile homes.
- Bob
 
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