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#63966 - 03/28/06 02:58 PM replacing receps and switches in aluminum wired house
Ogreshouse Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/28/06
Posts: 3
Loc: palmdale,CA,USA
hello all i love all the info in the forums very surprising a lot of people get away with halfscrewed jobs and put people and family in danger!Anyway im new to this forum ive been a residential electrician for almost a year now and do numerous side jobs will have to post pics later.Ok this is my problem my customer has a 73 house wired in aluminum! he wants to swap out all the crappy receps and switches for decora receps and switches this is the first house ive worked on thats wired in aluminum what is the safest method for pigtailing copper to aluminum? he dosent want to rewire with copper any ideas? ive heard many methods but would like to know the safest way

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#63967 - 03/28/06 03:47 PM Re: replacing receps and switches in aluminum wired house
LK Offline

Member

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 1721
Loc: New Jersey
The only approved way to pig tail, is with with special tooling, and training from AMP,
so if you have an extra $7,000 laying around, you can lease the tool for a year, and you will need to complete their training.

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#63968 - 03/28/06 06:23 PM Re: replacing receps and switches in aluminum wired house
LoneGunman Offline
Member

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 141
Loc: Florida
I hope I do not offend you,it is not my intention but how can you call yourself an electrician with less than a year in the field? Also, you talk about halfscrewed jobs and putting people and family in danger but you have less than a year in the field and do "numerous" side jobs, do you not think you are putting people at risk due to your lack of experience?

Are you a union guy with four years apprenticeship and one year as a resi electrician? If so please disregard my post( not because of being union but because you'd have 5 years in the trade if that was the case).

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#63969 - 03/28/06 07:32 PM Re: replacing receps and switches in aluminum wired house
Ogreshouse Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/28/06
Posts: 3
Loc: palmdale,CA,USA
lonegunman i should have clarified the post but ive been working for a company for almost a year and prior ive worked side jobs for the last 6 years with qualified friends of mine in the trade and yes i feel also that im not lacking in experience and i dont put people and thier families in danger because i do the job right the first time i have had no complaints or problems yet i learn new things everyday so far working for this company im with now im completley roughing out houses trouble shooting and the like and trim and finish like i sead i learn new things everyday im very confident in my work and never doubt anything i do but as offense taken? none you obviously have more years and experience under your belt but thanks for the
input

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#63970 - 03/28/06 09:27 PM Re: replacing receps and switches in aluminum wired house
Lostazhell Offline
Member

Registered: 02/21/04
Posts: 1248
Loc: Bakersfield, CA (Originally Or...
While as Les (LK) stated above, the only "approved" means of copper to aluminum pigtailing is the AMP system, AMP has placed the cost of their system in the realm of a 2 or 3 year old work truck. I recommend visiting www.cpsc.gov and searching "aluminum wiring" for an official stance on various pigtailing methods.

Just as an FYI, I've seen the purple Ideal wirenuts listed for AL/CU terminations fail just as miserably as a common wirenut would...(maybe about 4 or 5 times) Aluminum wiring of that era is very unforgiving when it comes to terminations, as compared to copper.

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#63971 - 03/29/06 06:43 AM Re: replacing receps and switches in aluminum wired house
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5305
Loc: Blue Collar Country
Ogre, your posts bring up a whole bunch of issues. Since this forum is seen by literally thousands of folks, I will make my remarks general- so please don't take them personally.

With aluminum wiring, you're stuck between a rock and a hard place. Your only real option is to use al-rated devices. If the style you like isn't available, then it simply isn't available. Instal them using the screws or pressure plates- and not the 'back-stab' (if they have them). Use plenty of anti-oxidant paste, working it into the wire with a 'scotch-brite' or fine steel wool. Then take care to tighten to just the right amount...not too much, not too little. This is one time to use a torque driver.

It's that- or a complete re-wire.

The purple wire nuts are "approved" only by the guy selling them. The "UL" listing of them is, according to UL, being mis-represented, and they are not rated for attaching copper to aluminum.

As for learning the trade....it sounds like you are in that very dangerous zone where you have enough experience to get into trouble, but not enough to realize just how little you've seen of the trade. Let me put it this way : after completing the 5-yr 'wireman' apprenticeship, and getting your journeyman card, you're in a position to start learning!

Running wire in a new house is a whole different thing from service work. Or control work. Or Data. Or....

Finally...here's what they DON'T teach you while you're learning the trade:
There are reasons for licenses, permits, and bond requirements. Among them is protecting YOU from the unscruplous customer.
Indeed, dealing with the customer, and running a business, is entirely different from practicing the trade. You only THINK you've dealt with the customer; they can become completely different folks once the job is completed!

Chances are, this customer is no fool. He's already spoken with some real contractors, and been given the bad news. Now he's trying to be clever, take some short-cuts, and looking for some sap totake advantage of. These worms can appear to be the sweetest little old ladies- but under that blue hair lies a shark!

Sometimes you just have to walk away from a job. This is one of those times.

Besides- you'll be doing them a real favor. With a house that old, and a customer who hires handymen, there are sure to be all sorts of other problems for the unwary. I wouldn't put it past the customer to know this- and be hoping to blame these other things on you!

Correction: don't walk away- RUN!

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#63972 - 03/29/06 07:06 AM Re: replacing receps and switches in aluminum wired house
sabrown Offline
Member

Registered: 12/12/02
Posts: 297
Loc: Ogden, Utah, USA
The advice you have recieved here is good. I have sitting in front of me most of an improperly rated receptacle that was installed originally in my grandmothers home on AL wiring during the early 70's. This receptacle was side wired and likely not properly torqued adding to the problem. Note: The conductor was properly wrapped around the screw. I believe what kept her home from burning to the ground is the metal device box acted as a heat sink thus saving the house.

New AL conductors do not have these problems due to introduced alloys and are much safer (but still require AL rated devices, which brings up the question, is the AL rating based on the new AL alloys?). You need the proper tools and training and rated AL devices, or a complete rewire. Expensive no matter how you look at it. I would still be concerned with what I did not see.

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#63973 - 03/29/06 08:19 AM Re: replacing receps and switches in aluminum wired house
resqcapt19 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/10/00
Posts: 2209
Loc: IL
John,
 Quote:
The purple wire nuts are "approved" only by the guy selling them. The "UL" listing of them is, according to UL, being mis-represented, and they are not rated for attaching copper to aluminum.

Can you cite a source for that. It is marked as CU/AL and is tested to UL 486C. Ideal has a statement on the subject. Not that I work with this type of application, I'm just interested in the source material.
Don
spelling correction

[This message has been edited by resqcapt19 (edited 03-29-2006).]
_________________________
Don(resqcapt19)

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#63974 - 03/29/06 08:58 AM Re: replacing receps and switches in aluminum wired house
gfretwell Offline

Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 9045
Loc: Estero,Fl,usa
The other thing that changed, along with the alloy of the wire, was the material of the binding screws on CO/ALr DEVICES. They use an alloy that more closely matches the wire alloy.
I do agree with the other posters who say "run away" is a viable option. This job will require that you add a lot of "risk" money to the price. There are just too many things that could go wrong.
_________________________
Greg Fretwell

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#63975 - 03/29/06 09:53 AM Re: replacing receps and switches in aluminum wired house
skingusmc Offline
Member

Registered: 05/27/04
Posts: 116
Loc: Simi Valley, CA USA
renosteinke -

"Let me put it this way : after completing the 5-yr 'wireman' apprenticeship, and getting your journeyman card, you're in a position to start learning!"

I couldn't agree more, and would even go further to say that we should never stop learning or think that we have seen/know it all. Just too many silmular but "different" situations and new gear and procedures always coming out.

Steve
_________________________
Thanks
Steve

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