Robbie - I'm just a dopey old wireman and not a contractor, but I'm also involved with project management, contacts and estimating. From my perspective I can answer all your questions with one single answer, and that is I just wouldn't do the inspections at all.
Look at it this way, you have a resi customer or (worse) an insurance company who are trying to find someone who will make a determination that the alu wiring is safe. You really don't need to see it - it's not. What I mean is, even if it's OK today, it will deteriorate tomorrow, and unless it's regularly maintained (which you cannot control), it won't stay OK.
The insurance company really worries me - they're likely looking for more than mere assurances, you might be bitting off more legal liability than you know.
'fraid I'd run, Radar
There are 10 types of people. Those who know binary, and those who don't.
IMO you charge what you need to for your involvement and be honest in your report.
If I was evaluating a system with aluminum wiring I'd report on the need for a level of maintenance that is unrealistic to expect from a typical homeowner. I'd also report the dangers of non-professional repairs to the system, or replacement with wrong devices or connectors.
Then I'd recommend a complete rewire with copper wire.
From my point of view, that's an honest report on aluminum wiring. Too bad if the customer or insurance company doesn't like the report.
PS...and if the aluminum is to remain, I'd strongly recommend an interwired 120-volt with battery backup smoke alarm system to every sleeping area and every floor (with copper wiring).
Do you guys agree or disagree that if all terminations are done like it said on the report, so there will be a piece of copper pig tailed to the aluminum with one of those connectors, that it will make it safe?
Any opinions on this?
I was just curious on how others improve the safety of the wiring in the house without re-running copper everywhere.
I have been asked to check out aluminum wiring in houses before and always told them no thanks.
[This message has been edited by RobbieD (edited 02-12-2006).]
I just looked it up on the web for the first time. Wow it seems expensive for the training. Seems crazy since its only a specialized crimping tool. They don't even give a price for the tool, they say lease only? Has anyone ever used this tool and received the training? http://tooling.tycoelectronics.com/procedure.stm
I have done some aluminum repairs by using small size Cu/Al split bolts with Deox to convert to Copper wire for connection to receptacles. These are UL approved for Cu to Al connections.I tape the splice with 3M tape. I advise the customer in writing to re-torque all Aluminum connections every 5 years and to repair all Al splices, but they just want to fix the "burned outlets." I think all the Cu/Al wire nuts (purple?) are no longer UL listed. It may be cheaper to re-wire a house with Copper than to Copalum all outlets. If I were Copalum certified, I would want $150 hr. per electrician. But where would you find work?
I do not see liability in inspecting a house and recommending re-wiring with Copper wire or re-splicing all connections and pigtailing to Copper. The liability is in doing the pigtailing work. Also, what is the big deal in re-wiring a house for $15 k if the seller is making a $400 k profit on the sale? (Just kidding--I know sellers who balk at merely replacing a few receptacles or switches.)
Consulting is a service we normally provide. We have inspected a few locations with AL wiring throughout. In 100% of those cases the result was so poor our recommendation was complete replacement. Don't know what they finally did.