Pigtailed aluminum wiring - standard red wire nuts

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  #1  
Old 01-24-19, 01:50 PM
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Pigtailed aluminum wiring - standard red wire nuts

I just found out my landlord pigtailed our entire house with red wire nut twist-on connectors. How much of a safety hazard is this?

 
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  #2  
Old 01-24-19, 03:09 PM
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If the pigtails are copper to aluminum then it is a big problem. If aluminum to aluminum and the wire nuts are not approved for aluminum that is a problem too.
 
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Old 01-24-19, 03:12 PM
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Yes it's copper to aluminum I believe :/
 
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Old 01-24-19, 03:31 PM
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It could create insurance problems. If the local AHJs are very strict about certificates of occupancy it could even make the rental against local ordinance.
 
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Old 01-24-19, 03:49 PM
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How bad is this? Bad enough for me to move myself and my kids into my parents house until I get my landlord to fix this?
 
  #6  
Old 01-24-19, 05:06 PM
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Does it at least have antioxidant applied?
It will be grease in dark gray or almost black color.

It is still violation, but in my experience it is not much worse than purple wire nut made for aluminum to copper connections.
This is not because antioxidant + regular wire nut is ok, but it is because purple wire nut barely works.

So long as your breakers work and all splices are made in a junction box (preferably metal ones), risk of fire is relatively low. Any fire started from the splice will be contained in a junction box.

Just watch out for any flickering lights as this means you have loose connection.
 
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Old 01-24-19, 05:48 PM
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It's a problem and it needs to be taken care of. If the landlord is not going to address it immediately.... get the lease terminated and your monies paid back.
 
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Old 01-24-19, 06:16 PM
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The panel is brand new if it helps (we had a zinsco replaced) and that has been done properly. The red nuts are behind outlets. Not coated in antioxidant. Does this change things?
 
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Old 01-24-19, 06:18 PM
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Can you post a picture of the wire that is spliced with the red nuts?
 
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Old 01-24-19, 06:29 PM
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This is the only picture I got when the electrician came.. my guess is this is not that helpful, but it;s a try. When the electrician showed it to me it was silver and gold. He didn't seem immediately concerned but did say it needed to be changed / it wouldn't pass an inspection.


[img=start]cid:[email protected]
 
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  #11  
Old 01-24-19, 06:47 PM
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This is our panel if that helps
 
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  #12  
Old 01-24-19, 07:56 PM
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Pros, is it just me are do some of those look like #14 wires?
 
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Old 01-24-19, 08:24 PM
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This might be related to the nuts, but when unplugging my baby's wipe warmer, I noticed that the plug was a bit warm, it went away after a while. Is this of concern? I am trying to figure out how much of a hazard it is and if it's worth moving before lease ends if landlord won't change things...

Also, I noticed that devices plugged into the outlets are a bit loose (e.g., to where a phone charger could fall out, although it usually doesn't)
 
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Old 01-24-19, 09:12 PM
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You may be able to break the lease because of the safety issue. It's called constructive eviction https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructive_eviction

Warm to the touch wall plates can be a warning sign. Receptacles that are loose can cause heat do to increased resistance and even fire in extreme case.
 
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Old 01-24-19, 09:17 PM
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Loose connections at the blade/receptacle connections can lead to heat and/or fire. Higher loads like a space heater can exacerbate any loose connection anywhere in the system.
 
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Old 01-24-19, 09:18 PM
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I have never seen aluminum conductors smaller than #12.
 
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Old 01-24-19, 09:40 PM
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To be clear, the receptacle that is warm is only warm when the appliance is plugged in / a few minutes after plugging in, not sure if that was an issue too.
 
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Old 01-25-19, 05:31 AM
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I have plugs that get warm under heave load (usually something that heats) Plugs that fall out or are loose causes ore heat than a tight plug and needs to be fixed.
 
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Old 01-25-19, 06:52 AM
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If the aluminum wire between the outlet and distribution panel was installed when the distribution panel was replaced, you may have a case because a permit should have been obtained and a AHJ inspection when completed. If the wire was not replaced, you have a much harder case to prove in my opinion. Determining when the aluminum wire was installed and electrical code applicable, manufacturer and identification of wire and wire nuts involved are some of the things you have to prove to use a construction eviction as reason for breaking a lease. By the way, I can't find any relationship between the color of wire nut insulation and electrical ratings. What is significant about red colored wire nut?
 
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Old 01-25-19, 10:55 AM
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There's a lot of information here about the hazards of aluminum wiring.
https://inspectapedia.com/aluminum/A...ng_Hazards.php

There are a LOT of houses out there wired like yours. There is a hazard, but it's not like it's going to have an issue tomorrow. I would make sure my smoke detectors have batteries in them (as they should anyway), try not to use any high-wattage plug-in appliances (space heaters are notorious for causing problems), and sleep well at night.

Those red wire nuts are rated for Copper to Copper connections only. If you look at Ideal's brochure, you'll see the details. (Multiple companies make similar wire nuts, but as far as I know, they all have basically the same ratings).
 
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Old 01-25-19, 03:45 PM
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The wire on the receptacle appears to be copper.
 
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Old 01-25-19, 08:36 PM
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Really? Our landlord said the house was wired in aluminum and pigtailed, but I guess she could have gotten it wrong? The electrician also showed me the copper/aluminum pigtail. That would be a huge relief.
 
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Old 01-25-19, 08:45 PM
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a copper.pigtail is one of the solutions to having aluminium conductors. The copper connects to the switch or receptacle.
 
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Old 01-25-19, 09:04 PM
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Phew, so if it pig tailed with copper then it is safe to use the red nut?
 
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Old 01-25-19, 10:01 PM
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No, red wire nuts are not rated for aluminum.
 
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Old 01-26-19, 08:36 AM
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Phew, so if it pig tailed with copper then it is safe to use the red nut?

No, not at all! Pigtailing aluminum wiring with copper pigtails can be done if terminated correctly and red wire nuts are far from proper.

You need to educate yourself on aluminum wiring repairs. I suggest you open and print this publication 516 from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Basically it says that NO WIRE NUT should ever be used where the copper and aluminum wires come in direct contact.


https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/516.pdf



Look again at the picture of the new electric panel in your post #11. I see copper to aluminum splices in there using the Ideal #65 Twister purple wire nuts. Although they are UL Listed for aluminum to copper splices, it's interesting to note that UL HAS NEVER tested them and they have a very high failure rate! The purple wire nuts have the very same zinc plated spring in them as the red wire nuts. The ONLY DIFFERENCE is the purple wire nuts are filled at the factory with antioxidant compound. It's also interesting to note that the antioxidant compound is flammable. The electrician that told you the red wire nuts need to be replaced was correct, but he is not well versed in the approved copper to aluminum wire splicing methods.
 

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  #27  
Old 01-26-19, 04:58 PM
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While purple wirenut has high failure rate, it is still legal to put them on as it is UL listed for such a use.
As far as I know, it works fine when installed correctly. The problem is it is very easy to install incorrectly.
You have to remove oxidation layer on aluminum wire first (preferably under antioxidant grease), twist a good length of copper onto it then put wire nut.
All purple wire nut splice failures I saw were from copper or aluminum wire barely making contact (different length of wires under the nut) or using heavily oxidized aluminum wire spliced without sanding.
It might still fail if the splice is in humid area.

Also, there was a time when pig tailing copper wire to aluminum with regular wirenut filled with anti-oxident was acceptable repair. I believe that was before purple wire nut was available.

The best way to fix without having special tool is using AlumiConn, but it is pretty expensive and may have box fill issue.
 
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Old 01-28-19, 12:30 PM
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While purple wirenut has high failure rate, it is still legal to put them on as it is UL listed for such a use.

True, they are considered acceptable because of the UL Label, but I would never use them for anything more than a temporary connection. They are approximately the same price as the AlumiConn connectors though so why not just do it right the first time. They were designed originally for use in low amperage connections of aluminum to copper connection such as installing light fixtures. Somewhere I have a copy of meeting notes where the VP of Engineering at Ideal, US CPSC, UL and Dr. Jesse Aronstein discussed the issues surrounding the purple wirenuts and the VP of Engineering told them these wirenuts were intended for the low amperage connections. At the end of the meeting he agreed to go back to Ideal and change the instructions to reflect this on the packaging, but it never happened. Apparently someone higher up at Ideal overruled the VP of Engineering.

Also, there was a time when pig tailing copper wire to aluminum with regular wirenut filled with anti-oxident was acceptable repair. I believe that was before purple wire nut was available.
Also true. Back in the late '70s and early '80s there were a few brands of twist on connectors that were UL Listed for use with copper to aluminum connections when antioxidant compound was used.
 
  #29  
Old 01-28-19, 08:53 PM
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You can get purple wire nut less than 1/2 price when you buy in bulk.
Also, there are few other disadvantages of alumiconn. It takes more room in general and may not fit in the junction box very well. The largest connector they have is 3 port and when there 3 aluminum wires + pigtail being spliced, you are forced to use 2 connectors per splice which takes up even more room and higher cost.

I just wish they made 4 port models.
 
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