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Safety issue Al to Cu twist connector on Cu to Cu connection?

Safety issue Al to Cu twist connector on Cu to Cu connection?

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  #1  
Old 04-19-17, 08:57 PM
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Safety issue Al to Cu twist connector on Cu to Cu connection?

I'm sub-contracting apartment remodel project and the apartment is wired with aluminum cables.
I am using Al/Cu devices or pig-tailing with AlumiConn for outlets and switches I am replacing and an employee from the contractor is replacing other Al/Cu connectors by using Ideal purple Al to Cu twist connectors (which I told them are not recommended already).
Now I find that this idiot employee is also using them to Cu to Cu connection. More specifically, on smoke detector connectors, which was pulled in copper cable. Someone at this office told him that the wires on smoke detector connector is aluminum and must use purple wire nut. But, the wire is actually tinned copper wire.
I showed him it is copper wire by scraping tinning on the wire, but his response is don't care and will do what he is told.

Since it is copper to copper and I don't think there is anything in the anti-oxidant compound that will harm the copper. So as far as I know it is very unlikely to actually cause problem other than waste of money and the connector is probably not approved for such a use.
Also, smoke detector doesn't pull much current.

Has anyone seen or heard problem caused by using purple wire nut on cu to cu connection?
 
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Old 04-19-17, 09:14 PM
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They are listed for Cu/Cu connections. No problem, just a waste of money.

Mod Note: the above information is incorrect
 

Last edited by pcboss; 04-20-17 at 06:36 AM.
  #3  
Old 04-19-17, 09:33 PM
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I don't recommend using the Cu/Al devices.

If you are contracted to do the upgrades you should be using the AlumiConns from King products or even better the Cop-alum crimp system that can only be installed by certified installers.

Those filled wirenuts have proven themselves unreliable, not effective and should not be used.... especially in a building like that.
 
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Old 04-19-17, 09:53 PM
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Old 04-20-17, 06:37 AM
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They are listed for Cu/Cu connections. No problem, just a waste of money.
The Ideal #65 is not listed for use with copper to copper.

Ideal Industries - Twister AL/CU Twist-on Wire Connector
 
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Old 04-20-17, 06:39 AM
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You are paying for the job to be done correctly and to the codes. The contractor should perform the work properly. They should also train their workers better.
 
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Old 04-20-17, 04:57 PM
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They are listed for Cu/Cu connections. No problem, just a waste of money.

Mod Note: the above information is incorrect
The Ideal #65 is not listed for use with copper to copper.

Ideal Industries - Twister AL/CU Twist-on Wire Connector
Note from a person who actually looked up and read the listing table before posting: Uhh, no it is absolutely NOT incorrect.

Wasn't it you who made mention of posting accurate information a couple days ago? From the PDF in the link you yourself posted... The first two columns are Cu/Cu combinations. The third column is Al/Cu combinations. Don't publicly shame me for being wrong unless I am actually wrong. If I'm wrong, I'll accept it and move on.. But if you erroneously call me out I'll make you eat it.

 
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Old 04-20-17, 05:45 PM
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I don't recommend using the Cu/Al devices.

If you are contracted to do the upgrades you should be using the AlumiConns from King products
As long as they not illegal, I cannot really tell the contractors it cannot be done.
Although, CPSC does not recommend Al/Cu Devices and Ideal 65 Purple wire nut, as far as I know they are legal and approved.
I am using AlumiConns where I can, especially where I see burnt wiring. I am using Ideal 65 for light fixtures and places I just don't have room for AlumiConns.

Only issue I'm finding with AlumiConns are it accepts only 3 wires and there are few splices with 3 cables + light fixture or outlet (Making total 4 wires).
I'd have to use 4 AlumiConns, but sometimes there just aren't enough room. Especially when GFCI is involved.
When I have to use Ideal 65, I am making sure the connection is clean, even ends and tight.
I doubt the employee from the contractor is doing the same as I already found one connection that a cable just pulled right out.

I am also changing out broken outlets and I am finding some of them have overheated wires due to loose connection. I suspect they came loose because aluminum expands and contracts much more than the brass screws they used in old Al/Cu outlets.
New Leviton Al/Cu outlets and switches have different screws, not sure of the material used, but definitely not brass. Hopefully they perform better.

I am even finding some splices didn't even have wire nuts. Just twisted and taped. Wire insulation burnt due to poor connection.
Also found some repair splices done outside of the junction box because the cable was too short for repair.
All I had to do was pull a staple out and stable at different location to gain 2 inches more.

They are listed for Cu/Cu connections. No problem, just a waste of money.
That is great.
I don't really see what is so special about this Al/Cu wire nut other than that it contains anti-oxidant compound and have some sort of seal at the opening.
Rest of construction and material probably is exactly same as regular wire nuts.
That may be why there are plenty of reports of failures.
 
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Old 04-20-17, 06:10 PM
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I looked at the PDF page of wirenuts. Ideal has a mistake/misprint on product #65.

This description is clearly wrong as it says don't use on aluminum wire and then it illustrates for Cu/Al connections. This same exact description is used on most of the Cu-Cu connectors.

Combinations listed on this page are CU/CU Wire only. (Do not use on aluminum wire.) For use on solid and/or stranded wire combinations unless noted otherwise.

Name:  65.jpg
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With the above being said.... it is not specified if it can be used with Cu-Cu connections.

The following are copper to aluminum combinations. Not for use on aluminum to aluminum conductors.
 
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Old 04-20-17, 06:23 PM
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As long as they not illegal, I cannot really tell the contractors it cannot be done.
What is your official position in this renovation ?
Owner, super, job foreman ?

I've worked with aluminum wiring many times.... and many times after a fire. I would NEVER willingly leave it in place. It would NEVER be in my home for 15A, 20A, 30A branch circuits.
 
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Old 04-20-17, 06:59 PM
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Obviously logic is lacking around here because it is pretty clear what it is saying. The CU/CU header is on every single page, and defines all "other than noted otherwise" combinations as CU/CU. The first two columns are obviously Cu-Cu, since it specifically says "Not for use on aluminum to aluminum conductors". So it can't be Al-Al. The third column (with the "The following are copper to aluminum combinations" heading over it and the specific Al and specific Cu gauges) is quite obviously the Al-Cu combinations. So there you have it. If you still don't believe it, email Ideal and/or UL and ask them. I'll accept your and PCboss's apologies when you hear back from them.
 
  #12  
Old 04-20-17, 07:03 PM
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I am a co-owner of sub-contracting company.
The owners of the apartment also owns the investment company and this investment company has subsidiary management company and renovation company. I am subcontracting for the renovation company.

According to the president of renovation company, the owners are being very cheap on the renovation project and wants each unit remodeled at $15,000. However, each unit is costing $19,000 right now.
The original contract was to replace pretty much everything with new.
In order to save money, now they don't even want tub/shower wall tiles replaced and only replace shower valve as necessary.
The original contract was also to replace interior doors with new pre-hung doors, but now they want only slabs replaced. Replacing slabs only may save some money on material, but it is more labor.

This apartments also have push-o-matic breakers and the load center is already full. Only way to pull dedicated line to new washer and dryer is replacing with tandem breaker and since it is discontinued breaker, replacement breakers are expensive. Therefore, they don't want dedicated line.
The original idea was to splice from kitchen outlets, but because they have to be GFCI and also are run in aluminum wires, I could not safely fit AlumiConns + GFCI.
I ended up pulling new 12AWG cable all the way from the load center (which is also in kitchen) and connecting to same breaker feeding kitchen outlet.
This way at least chances of fire is much lower and if needed can add tandem breaker later to make dedicated circuit.

Since I'm going to cut drywall below load center anyway, I'm also replacing dishwasher line at no additional charge, which is installed right below the load center. I decided to do that because I found many aluminum wires connected to dishwasher burnt and I feel safer this way.


I found burnt wires in about every other units, but somehow they never had electrical fire. Guess the junction box is doing their job.

Water pipe leaking is more serious issue right now. Finding pin-hole leaks everywhere.
 
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Old 04-20-17, 07:15 PM
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I hope there's a clause in your contract explicitly disavowing all liability for any fire or other damage that may occur in the future as a result of their tightassedness in not allowing you to remove and replace all of the aluminum with copper..'

They sound like slumlords. You should inform their property insurance carrier, because I bet they don't know about it, and probably drop coverage until the Al was replaced...
 
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Old 04-21-17, 11:00 AM
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I am also changing out broken outlets and I am finding some of them have overheated wires due to loose connection. I suspect they came loose because aluminum expands and contracts much more than the brass screws they used in old Al/Cu outlets.
If the old outlets specifically are marked "Al/Cu" they were never engineered or designed for use with aluminum wire and are just a copper only receptacle that UL gave manufacturers the option to mark with the "Al/Cu" marking due to so many contractors demanding a receptacle suitable for use with aluminum wiring.

New Leviton Al/Cu outlets and switches have different screws, not sure of the material used, but definitely not brass. Hopefully they perform better.
I hope those new receptacles and switches are marked "CO/ALR" and not "Al/Cu". I am aware that the CPSC does not recommend the use of "CO/ALR" wiring devices with aluminum wire, but I am also aware that aluminum wire is rarely terminated properly on those devices. The exposed wire ends must be properly abraded with a lubricant of antioxidant compound and coated with antioxidant before being placed on the screw terminals of a CO/ALR device. I have yet to see a properly terminated "CO/ALR" device fail.


an employee from the contractor is replacing other Al/Cu connectors by using Ideal purple Al to Cu twist connectors (which I told them are not recommended already).
Now I find that this idiot employee is also using them to Cu to Cu connection.
Common sense tells me it isn't a smart thing to do to use a wire connector that costs in excess of $3 each in place of a common inexpensive wire nut just because them employee doesn't care.

Since it is copper to copper and I don't think there is anything in the anti-oxidant compound that will harm the copper.
I am also pretty sure the antioxidant won't harm the copper wire, but did you know that it is flammable?
 
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Old 04-21-17, 05:34 PM
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I hope there's a clause in your contract explicitly disavowing all liability for any fire or other damage that may occur in the future as a result of their tightassedness in not allowing you to remove and replace all of the aluminum with copper..
They sound like slumlords.
I am writing that I made the contractor aware of the possible risk of fire and not responsible for any fire or death caused by existing wiring on every invoice.

As far as I know, most old low cost apartments are run like this. Cheap and don't care attitude from the management and maintenance.
They are spending lots of money on painting exterior and landscaping to attract people. But conditions inside the building is very poor.
Some people living inside also very nasty. Some units I remodeled had rotten carpets and urine smells. Living on the streets is probably more healthier than living inside that unit.
Some units had finger sized cockroaches flying.


If the old outlets specifically are marked "Al/Cu" they were never engineered or designed for use with aluminum wire
I hope those new receptacles and switches are marked "CO/ALR" and not "Al/Cu".
Both old and new ones were marked CO/ALR. I'm just mistakenly saying Al/Cu for their names on atomic table.
Old outlets even had sticker on the back saying only replace with another CO/ALR device.

I also have found decora type switches, which are copper only, installed and some units.
Some of them had copper pigtail with regular wire nut. Some of them had copper pigtail with regular wire nut and anti-oxidant. Some of them had aluminum wire directly connected.
The employee from the contractor is replacing wire nuts on pigtail. However, leaving directly connected switches as is. That is what his boss has told him to do so.


the antioxidant won't harm the copper wire, but did you know that it is flammable?
Flammable!!? What were they thinking?
Well, if the connection is made correctly it shouldn't go that hot in the first place anyway.


I like AlumiConn. Just wish they make 4 wire connector. Having 4 of them to make 4 wire connection just takes too much space.
Also for some reason, their 2 wire connector is more expensive than 3 wire connector. So, just using 3 wire connector even when I'm just making a pigtail.
 
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Old 04-22-17, 09:09 AM
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I also have found decora type switches, which are copper only, installed and some units.
The only CO/ALR rated devices you'll find are the typical duplex receptacle, single pole and 3-way switches. No manufacturer makes decorator switches (Decora style) or GFCI receptacles that are CO/ALR rated.
 
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