This is what I found Friday morning at my first call of the day for an " intermittent power problem".. Yes that is aluminum wire in those " backstab" connections, the ONLY connections on that receptacle! If you look at the front fiew of the receptacle you can see it is even stamped "CU-AL"! ( Noticed that after scraping about 10 layers of paint off the thing). You can sort of see near the plate mounting screw hole, where the innards of the device got warm enough to actually turn the plastic brown. Even the side view shows a little browning of the plastic right near where the little tab to split the device is located..
Adam, Is that the original condition that the wire insulation was in?. That recept has been really hot, by the looks of things. I really don't like the idea of an aluminium wire in a stab-lok connection, as opposed to copper in it. Aluminium has to be really tightly clamped to give an effective connection at the best of times.
Yep... I've changed a few of those in my day. The one pictured is actually still in good shape. Normally the face plate of the receptacle is burnt up and falls off and/ or disenigrates when 'tampered' with. This one is a real survivor!
Yes thats the original condition of the wire and insulation just as I found it... This one is actually one of the more damaged ones I have found, usually the conductors just have some charring around the push-in terminals.. There are hundreds of these buggers around the city in the complexes we maintain.. All el-cheapo smith and stone devices, with aluminum backstabbed in...
I did have one only once that was as bad as ShockMe77 described... Vintage 70's leviton receptacle ( the ones the plugs fell out of all the time or were really loose even when they were new) with the aluminum actually under the terminal screws. I took the darkened cover plate off but the rest crumbled, I mean it had already turned to basically ashes anyway. The frightening thing was the receptacle had a bed cranked right up against it and there was a 1500W space heater of all things plugged in!!
Years ago, we found someone had wired an entire bedroom/bathroom addition to an existing 15-amp receptacle circuit, wired with AL. After burning-smell complaints, we investigated and found the last original receptacle box was wired with cvompletely bare wires!
We then opened the wall above this box and discovered that the wires supplying it were bare (and perfectly parallel) for about two feet up! The wire had been so hot for so long that there were no remnants of insulation to be found, as if it had vaporized.
The wires were as clean and shiny as new. It was fortunate that nobody had disturbed the receptacle. They could have moved the wires just enough to have led to arcing inside the wall. Scary!
[This message has been edited by Larry Fine (edited 08-15-2006).]