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Fencepost
Re: aluminum wiring overhaul

The following will not help the original poster in her quest to fix up the wiring in her house, but will hopefully help those following this thread understand some of the issues with aluminum wiring.

Blue RidgeParkway wrote:

...See if you can find 14/ 16/ and even 18/. Ever come across an electrified cabinet (medicine cabinet, etc.) With convenience receptacle(s)? Lighting? A late 60s/early 70s light fixture with a convience receptacle? Check that wiring or the wiring pulled through?...

Wiring installed by fixture manufacturers is often smaller than that required for branch circuit wiring. Manufactured devices have maximum ratings stamped or printed on them which is often lower than the branch circuit amp rating. In the past, it was expected that this label rating would be observed and therefore the smaller wire size was considered OK.

Newer fixtures that have convenience outlets typically have 14 or 12AWG wires running to the convenience outlet because experience has shown that people don't pay attention to the nameplate ratings. Table lamps still use 18AWG cords. A wall oven I bought a couple of years ago requires a "50A circuit" but has a 10 gauge copper wire pigtail (normally 30A max) installed by the manufacturer. And it's UL listed. Manufacturers get a different set of rules to play by than electricians do.

Another thing to be aware of is that the stranded wires in fixtures are often tinned copper, meaning they have a tin coating to aid in soldering, and that gives them a silvery look that could be mistaken for aluminum.

As I understand it, 14AWG aluminum wire has NEVER been permitted for residential branch circuit wiring (but a manufacturer may certainly have used it in the fixtures they produced). Aluminum is no longer permitted for 15A and 20A 120V branch circuits. But I haven't Googled that, so I can't be sure. ;)

JLMCDANIEL
Re: aluminum wiring overhaul
Fencepost wrote:

The following will not help the original poster in her quest to fix up the wiring in her house, but will hopefully help those following this thread understand some of the issues with aluminum wiring.

Wiring installed by fixture manufacturers is often smaller than that required for branch circuit wiring. Manufactured devices have maximum ratings stamped or printed on them which is often lower than the branch circuit amp rating. In the past, it was expected that this label rating would be observed and therefore the smaller wire size was considered OK.

Newer fixtures that have convenience outlets typically have 14 or 12AWG wires running to the convenience outlet because experience has shown that people don't pay attention to the nameplate ratings. Table lamps still use 18AWG cords. A wall oven I bought a couple of years ago requires a "50A circuit" but has a 10 gauge copper wire pigtail (normally 30A max) installed by the manufacturer. And it's UL listed. Manufacturers get a different set of rules to play by than electricians do.

Another thing to be aware of is that the stranded wires in fixtures are often tinned copper, meaning they have a tin coating to aid in soldering, and that gives them a silvery look that could be mistaken for aluminum.

As I understand it, 14AWG aluminum wire has NEVER been permitted for residential branch circuit wiring (but a manufacturer may certainly have used it in the fixtures they produced). Aluminum is no longer permitted for 15A and 20A 120V branch circuits. But I haven't Googled that, so I can't be sure. ;)

Interesting post but a little incorrect. NEC branch service wire requirements have a large safety margin (50% of the ampacity for the ga.) built in while fixture wiring goes by actual ampacity rating. If you open a typical 20 amp power strip you will not find 12 ga. wiring inside nor will you in a fixture with a convenience outlet. NEC requires 12 ga for a 20 amp branch service, the ampacity of 12 ga. copper wire which is what it can be used for in fixture wiring is 41 amps. The minimum size wire allowed for fixture wiring is 18 ga. (and is the most common size used) has an ampacity of 32 amps and makes it safe to use on all 20 amp branch circuits.

As far as I know no fixtures were manufactured with aluminum wiring.

Ampacity of 10 ga. wire is 55 amps that's why it was used on your stove.

Aluminum wiring is permitted but it must be the new series AA-8000 aluminum.
Jack

Fencepost
Re: aluminum wiring overhaul
JLMCDANIEL wrote:

Interesting post but a little incorrect. NEC branch service wire requirements have a large safety margin (50% of the ampacity for the ga.) built in while fixture wiring goes by actual ampacity rating. If you open a typical 20 amp power strip you will not find 12 ga. wiring inside nor will you in a fixture with a convenience outlet. NEC requires 12 ga for a 20 amp branch service, the ampacity of 12 ga. copper wire which is what it can be used for in fixture wiring is 41 amps. The minimum size wire allowed for fixture wiring is 18 ga. (and is the most common size used) has an ampacity of 32 amps and makes it safe to use on all 20 amp branch circuits.

As far as I know no fixtures were manufactured with aluminum wiring.

Ampacity of 10 ga. wire is 55 amps that's why it was used on your stove.

Aluminum wiring is permitted but it must be the new series AA-8000 aluminum.
Jack

Thanks, Jack. I was wondering how they got away with it. Always happy to learn something new.

goldhiller
Re: aluminum wiring overhaul
Ernie_Fergler wrote:

Google is not perfect, we have to remember that...:rolleyes:

Am I gonna have to revoke your Google diploma? :eek:

I should hope not. ;)

Here....just brush up a little and you too can assume the pretense of being the mighty Wizard of Oz. :D

http://www.cwire.org/data-mining-using-google/

reign16
Re: aluminum wiring overhaul

what do you mean of that??!

___________________
aluminum plate

platypus
Re: aluminum wiring overhaul

Thank you all for sharing your knowledge! Can you please share more?

We have been researching Aluminum wiring - found a perfect house, only to learn it has Al wiring. We are not comfortable with that (we have 2 little ones). I'm sure this has been asked before in other threads, but can anyone give us a BALLPARK estimate to re-wire the house? (We realize there are other fixes, but we're looking into this one first).

It's a 3000sf ranch, built in 1969, with a 2000sf finished (walk-out) basement (other part is garage). 4 Bedrooms and 4.5 baths, LR, DR, FR, Kitchen, Foyer, Laundry Room upstairs. 1 Bed, 1 Ba, Den, and storage rooms in basement. 200 Amp panel at one end of basement and sub panel at the other end (split furnace and water heaters too). We're assuming the task would include drywall removal/replacement/etc...?? Does it mean tearing up the kitchen?

We are going to call around, but can't until Monday! :)

Thanks so much in advance for any guidance!

Ernie_Fergler
Re: aluminum wiring overhaul
goldhiller wrote:

Am I gonna have to revoke your Google diploma? :eek:

I should hope not. ;)

Here....just brush up a little and you too can assume the pretense of being the mighty Wizard of Oz. :D

http://www.cwire.org/data-mining-using-google/

Thanks for the tip !!!!!:D

JLMCDANIEL
Re: aluminum wiring overhaul
platypus wrote:

Thank you all for sharing your knowledge! Can you please share more?

We have been researching Aluminum wiring - found a perfect house, only to learn it has Al wiring. We are not comfortable with that (we have 2 little ones). I'm sure this has been asked before in other threads, but can anyone give us a BALLPARK estimate to re-wire the house? (We realize there are other fixes, but we're looking into this one first).

It's a 3000sf ranch, built in 1969, with a 2000sf finished (walk-out) basement (other part is garage). 4 Bedrooms and 4.5 baths, LR, DR, FR, Kitchen, Foyer, Laundry Room upstairs. 1 Bed, 1 Ba, Den, and storage rooms in basement. 200 Amp panel at one end of basement and sub panel at the other end (split furnace and water heaters too). We're assuming the task would include drywall removal/replacement/etc...?? Does it mean tearing up the kitchen?

We are going to call around, but can't until Monday! :)

Thanks so much in advance for any guidance!

Generally all new wiring can be accomplished by cutting access holes in the drywall. These can easily be patched. Some rooms may not even require that. A complete gut or large tear up should be unnecessary. I guess large tear up is a relative term. Not knowing your area, your house, or labor rates in your area I would guess you would be looking at between 5 and 10 thousand dollars. But I have been out of the market for a while.
Jack

kengrubb
Re: aluminum wiring overhaul
woodwoman wrote:

I'm not a gambler w/stuff like this. Is $3500 a reasonable estimate to do this? Is there an average per outlet/fixture so I can count these up and see what this will cost?

If this is $3,500 for copalum crimps, I've read the average is about $75 per crimp. One problem with copalum crimps, if and when a section of aluminum wire needs to be replaced, you'll likely have to get an electrician to come out and re-crimp it. Not all electricians have the special tools. When I called Tyco and asked, they only had one electrician in Washington state with tool and training.

I've seen estimates of $8K to completely rewire a house with copper. Personally, I'd rather have all aluminum gone and replaced with copper.

I ran into some aluminum wire last night, and I'm eyeing the AlumiConn connectors. While no "special tools" are required, a torque screwdriver is required and they can run anywhere from probably $150 to $300. AlumiConn are supposed to be available at Lowes and they cost around $3 each. Much cheaper than copalums.

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