aluminum wire


Old 12-05-08, 05:21 AM
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aluminum wire

Thinking of buying a house that has a addition with a apartment that is all wired with aluminum romex.Anyone have any thoughts or concerns about the aluminum wire?
Old 12-05-08, 08:34 AM
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Aluminum wire is permitted by the National Electric Code. It requires special terminations and compound applied to splices, etc. Earlier Al installations may not have these?

Before buying, have a knowledgeable electrician inspect it carefully, and give you a written report.
Old 12-05-08, 09:19 AM
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Aluminum wire really runs the gamut between great condition and tinderbox waiting to happen. The only way to know for sure is a very througough inspection by someone who is knowledgeable in aluminum wire. Pay particular attention to light fixture junction boxes where overlamping may have caused heat damage. Note that if you want to change out light fixtures, you'll need to replace the last leg of aluminum from the switch box to the light box with copper NM-B.

The only long term remedies for aluminum wire are application of the COPALUM crimping system or complete replacement. COPALUM is a pressure welding process that fuses a copper extension onto the aluminum wires, but the manufacturer only sells the parts and tools to electricians which have been trained in their proper use, so you'll have to call them to find a contractor in your area. Tyco Corporation 1-800-722-1111

There is also a new product called AlumiConn which very recently got UL approval and can be applied by DIY. See their site here: AlumiConn However, I'm a little hesitant because there have been other aluminum wire splice methods which were approved and ultimately have had a lackluster safety record.
Old 12-05-08, 01:44 PM
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If you are not planning on using the apartment I would have it re-wired to save the worry. The bad part about AL wire is that you need special devices ( switches recpts etc) when working with it. Which can be a hassle for DIYERS and professionals alike
Old 12-05-08, 06:06 PM
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I've seen some nasty problems with aluminum wiring. Switches and outlets will just stop working due to oxidation on the wire.

One day it works, next day it does not! Then a few weeks later another outlet stops working!

You pull the outlet out and the wire looks like that of a car battery terminal which has a whiteish powder on it (and the car will not start due to this).

COPALUM is the word as said above.
Old 12-05-08, 07:17 PM
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A friend of mine back in the 70's in NJ was watching TV at night and saw a curious glow behind his full length drapes. He pulled the drapes back and found a receptacle glowing red. Yes aluminum, and that receptacle was on the circuit with his washing machine in the basement which was running. He said it had already scorched the back of the drapes and he was about to head up to bed. Enough said.

Old 12-05-08, 07:57 PM
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Was just the apartment wired with the alum wire or the whole house? Maybe you can negotiate the cost having the wiring replaced off the home. It is a buyers market and all.
Old 12-05-08, 08:08 PM
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If you have your heart set on this place, then please have it checked out thoroughly by an electrician.

If not, walk away.

Be aware that regardless of the condition of the wiring, the aluminum will make the place harder to sell, and any break in the price you get now will be lost to the next buyer when you sell again. If you get an evaluation/mitigation by an electrician, get a good statement in writing and save it to show to any prospective buyer in the future. Don't accept a statement that "it's fine" by anybody who isn't an expert in aluminum wiring.

If it was me, I'd try really hard to like someplace else.
Old 12-07-08, 08:50 PM
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Hi everyone! I still peek in every now and then.

Maybe a mod could give hairyw his own thread?

Anyway, I would look at how the house in constructed. Does it have a crawlspace, basement and/or attic? Is it a single level? Although rewiring is not easy (saying that based on very limited experience), it would at least make it possible at some point without destroying the walls.

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