Aluminum wire headache

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  #1  
Old 03-28-07, 08:04 PM
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Aluminum wire headache

First, let me say thank you in advance for any help you can give me. Now, some environmental info.

I bought a home two years ago that was built in 1978. The basement is finished, and is half above-ground.

I want to install Central AC. I bought all the components myself and I have a contractor who's going to do all except the electrical, which I thought I could handle myself. Famous last words.

I need to get power to the whip coming from the outside disconnect which will come into the house in the utility room, which is on the South side of the house, and the electrical panel is on the East side of the house.

Now, for the dilemma. When the house was converted to natural gas furnace and hot water, the old aluminum wire was left in and coiled up into the joists above (the utility room is only partially finished). I've read on here that aluminum wire is problematic, but may be okay depending on what it's connected to.

Well, I can't pull the wire because it's stapled in. I don't want to connect it to copper wire for all the reasons listed in this forum. Then it occured to me that I could use the romex going to the dryer outlet (connected to a 30A breaker in the panel).

So, now for the big question. Can I buy an outlet for the dryer that's compatible with the aluminum wire and be reasonable safe (and code friendly) so that I can utilize the dryer's romex for the AC condenser? If it's do-able and safe, great. If it's not a good idea, tell me straight up.

I really don't want to tear my basement apart pulling out the aluminum wire. I'd almost rather go out of the back of the panel to the outside and run power underground to the South side of the house.

Thanks again for your time and consideration.
 
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  #2  
Old 03-28-07, 09:37 PM
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1) Before you start anything, you could get your hands on a couple of books on electrical wiring and read them. Reading this forum and having us answer your questions is _not_ enough for a safe installation. This is because there are a tremendous number of details that you need to get right in an electrical installation, and at best we can only answer the questions that you ask; we have no idea about the questions that you don't even know to ask, and which we simply assume you understand as necessary background. I suggest reading the thin book 'Wiring Simplified' as well as a more serious tome.

2) You've not provided the minimum necessary information needed to answer your questions.

You need the following:

A) The nameplate power ratings from the HVAC equipment. This should include minimum circuit ampacity, and OCPD requirements. It should also say if the unit is a 240V unit, or a 120/240V unit.

B) The number and type of conductors in the circuits that you are considering extending. This includes how many insulated and uninsulated conductors, the temperature rating of the conductors, and the type (which is aluminium).

Problems with aluminium conductors are generally found in _small_ conductors for things such as receptacle circuits; with proper care and with proper connectors, it is entirely possible to splice between new copper and old aluminium wiring. You may not connect the circuit extension to the dryer receptacle using a plug, and I would advise against altering this circuit (you may have a gas dryer now, but some newer washers will use this 240V circuit, and a future owner might want to go back to an electric dryer). However reusing the old heating circuit (presuming that it is large enough and correctly configured) is probably a fine idea.

-Jon
 
  #3  
Old 03-29-07, 04:00 AM
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Are you sure it was aluminum wire. Aluminum was only used from about '68 to about '73. But you are better off running a new circuit with copper and just forget about the aluminum. Cut it at both ends and label it as disconnected.
 
  #4  
Old 03-29-07, 06:52 PM
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Wink 'Nuff said

1) Before you start anything, you could get your hands on a couple of books on electrical wiring and read them. Reading this forum and having us answer your questions is _not_ enough for a safe installation. This is because there are a tremendous number of details
 

Last edited by John Nelson; 03-29-07 at 07:08 PM. Reason: eliminate repetitive text
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