Copper Clad Aluminum Wiring

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  #1  
Old 04-02-15, 06:31 PM
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Copper Clad Aluminum Wiring

Hello all,

I am in the process of replacing the outlets in my family room and noticed several of them have copper clad aluminum wiring. So far what I've noticed is that the hot, neutral, ground of the CCA wire is spliced with the hot, neutral, ground of the copper wire and then a 3rd Copper wire going to the outlets. I'm using the standard white tamper resistant outlet made by Leviton: M22-T5320-W. I cannot find any documentation anywhere stating what wire materials are approved for this outlet (Copper, CCA, aluminum). These are the options that I can come up with:

1) Contacted Leviton and am waiting to hear if the outlet is ok to use for copper clad aluminum. If they say yes, how do I splice the ground wire?

2) Contacted Alumiconn to ask them if their product is approved for CCA.

3) Replace the wiring. This may require ripping out some sheet rock to make things easier (there are 9 outlets).

What do you guys think and suggest?
 
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Old 04-02-15, 07:43 PM
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That article says CCA is safe to leave in place. Does that mean I can use copper clad aluminum wiring with standard wire nuts and outlets from the big box store?
 
  #4  
Old 04-02-15, 07:51 PM
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I think this is pretty rare, I have never seen copper clad aluminum wiring and I have seen a ton of aluminum wiring. I would recommend reading the information that Ray gave you a link to at Inspectapedia thoroughly and following the recommendations you find there. I scanned the information, but I didn't see anything about using wire nuts of any kind. I think I can safely say there is no currently produced wire nut that is U.L. Listed for use with copper clad aluminum wire. I believe the AlumiConn connector will be the way to go, but I'd like to see confirmation from King Innovation on that. I did notice that the recommendation is to NOT USE CO/ALR wiring devices, but to use wiring devices designed for copper wiring.
 
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Old 04-02-15, 07:54 PM
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That article says CCA is safe to leave in place. Does that mean I can use copper clad aluminum wiring with standard wire nuts and outlets from the big box store?
Receptacles and switches can be the copper only type available at the box stores, according to the article. Wire nuts I am not so sure about because I know the wire nuts would cut through the copper cladding into the aluminum. I'd lean toward the AlumiConn connectors if it were me, but you need to hear what they have to say first.
 
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Old 04-02-15, 08:04 PM
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Yes I've read several articles already. I actually read the article linked by Ray before I posted but I don't see a lot of conclusive statements online about what to actually use. I've ripped out some pure aluminum wiring already and I have used some AlumiConns so I have a little bit of experience with it. I also ripped out some copper clad aluminum but in this room its going to be a huge PITA because there are so many outlets. I did a quick check by pulling off the cover plates and it looks like 5 of the 9 outlets have the CCA wire and the other 4 are regular copper. I will not know for sure until I examine the wires more closely in day light. Its pretty hard to see they are aluminum in the night time. I sliced off some of the wire to look at the core to prove if its cca or cu.

I will wait to see what the Leviton/AlumiConn people say. The easier bet might be to use the Leviton outlet for the hots/neutrals and then use an extra green grounding screw to ground the aluminum wiring to the metal box and then use a second ground screw for the pure copper. Do you think that sounds acceptable?

Then again I might just rip it out though depending on a closer inspection.
 
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Old 04-03-15, 07:17 AM
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King Innovation got back to me and said their AlumiConn product is NOT rated for CCA....
 
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Old 04-03-15, 08:02 AM
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I've never personally seen CCA either, so we're in "wing it" territory. My best guess is that even though the AlumiConn is not specifically rated for CCA, it is still probably the best connector to use given the dirth of other good options. The AlumiConn makes a really solid connection and is rated for copper and aluminum, so it is reasonable to assume it will be perform well with CCA, even though the manufacturer didn't specifically submit it for testing. Getting ratings from UL is very expensive, so it probably didn't make business sense for King to get that rating given the rarity of CCA.

All that said, I'd probably replace what I could of the CCA (or any aluminum branch circuit wiring for that matter), and only use the AlumiConns where a rip out was really impractical.
 
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Old 04-03-15, 09:03 AM
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How about my idea to use the Leviton outlet if its rated for CCA and then use a green ground screw to ground the CCA ground separately from the copper? I would not have to use any AlumiConns in this instance. Would it be acceptable?

Or maybe just use AlumiConn for the ground wires?
 
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Old 04-03-15, 09:34 AM
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As long as all of the grounds end up connected to the metal box via mechanical fastener(s), I think you're in good shape. As far as quality of the connections, I would be much more concerned about making sure the hots and neutrals are connected well as opposed to the grounds. The trouble with aluminum wire splices happens after hundreds of heat-cool cycles which do not occur in ground wires. If the Leviton devices provide rated connections for CCA on the hot and neutral, that sounds good to me.
 
  #11  
Old 06-10-15, 06:52 PM
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I ended up replacing all off the copper clad aluminum wiring with copper. I have had an AFCI (Murray AFCI in Murray panel) on this room's circuit for a couple of years. It has started tripping once every few weeks now. When I wired all of the outlets I made sure they were nice and tight and had a hook shape around the screw in the direction the screw turns. Here is what I did:

1) Removed all CCA wire and replaced with copper
2) 3 outlets were on its own circuit so I removed the cable that fed from the panel to the first outlet and connected that outlet to the other circuit with a junction box that was already in my crawlspace (I am running out of space in the panel and don't need any unnecessary ones in the box).
3) I added 6 LED recessed lights (11.5W each) which are powered from switches on this circuit.
4) I added a 4 way switch and 2 3-way switches to control the lights from 3 different entrances to this room.
5) An exterior outlet on the deck is also powered by this circuit (was like that before). I replaced with a GFCI (nothing is plugged into this outlet when the AFCI tripped, can a GFCI cause problems even if its not in use?).
6) There is nothing else plugged into any outlets in this room at this time as its my baby's play room. There are 8 tamper resistant 15A outlets in this room.

The only times this particular breaker tripped before is when I plugged a large wall air conditioner into it as its only a 15A circuit. My plan is to open up every outlet/junction box and check if any wires are loose but I doubt it (I am pretty thorough). I have several other AFCIs that don't have issues. Any other advice other than doing that?
 
  #12  
Old 06-10-15, 08:58 PM
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Ok so I may have determined the cause....

I asked my wife if she was using the vacuum cleaner today and she said yes she did and then she tried turning the wall unit air conditioner on (the one that was problematic before the wiring changes). So today was caused by an overload. So I ask her every time the power is out in that room were you trying to use the air conditioner. She said yes.....

Once I get rid of that wall unit air conditioner I think things will be ok. Thanks!
 
  #13  
Old 06-11-15, 07:38 AM
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Good find! Glad the fix came out well.
 
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