Take the 2-minute tour ×
Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

We have purchased a condo home that was built in 1975. The inspector brought up the hazards of aluminum wiring. Since we have very little knowledge regarding this area we were wondering if we should rewire the entire place or if it is OK just to have an electrician pigtail? Can you please help? We just want to ensure our safety.

share|improve this question
3  
Condo? What about your neighbors? Do they have aluminum wiring? You might want to consider getting the board to issue an assessment to have the entire building/complex rewired. –  longneck Aug 13 '13 at 16:34
2  
Also did your inspector just bring up that dangers of aluminum or did he take the time to make sure (on at least a few examples) that it looks like it was installed correctly? –  DMoore Aug 13 '13 at 17:02
add comment

1 Answer

Aluminum wiring is not the fire hazard people would have you think it is. In fact it is perfectly safe and there has been studies showing that the only increased chance of fire is produced with an improper installation. This usually means that contractors using outlets or devices that are not rated for aluminum. This does cause the wire to eventually overheat at contact and expand/contract so many times that it becomes brittle and can short.

Pigtailing aluminum is perfectly acceptable. Your electrician would just go to every outlet and pigtail the aluminum with a short copper strand using a Al/Cu Wire Connector (these are usually purple for identification). This is probably the best solution for lights and other "non" outlets. For outlets you can pigtail or just connect an Al/Cu rated outlet.

However your local building code may have stipulations - mine is fine with correctly rated outlets. I have read in other places that they require pigtails and I have read in other places (an electrician driven county) that they require a rewire.

share|improve this answer
    
As an added note on what the CSPC has to say, not all purple wire connectors have been evaluated/approved by the CSPC for connecting copper and aluminum. As of June 2011, the CPSC (cpsc.gov/PageFiles/118856/516.pdf) approves of only three methods for a permanent repair: 1. Complete Replacement of Copper Cable, 2. COPALUM Method of Repair, 3. Acceptable Alternative Repair Method/AlumiConn Connector –  user14416 Aug 13 '13 at 16:55
    
The only approved purple connector for item number 3 as identified by the CPSC is the AlumiConn connector (homedepot.com/p/t/…-googleads-‌​-pla-_-202889892&ci_gpa=pla) –  user14416 Aug 13 '13 at 16:57
1  
Part of proper installation is coating AL wire in an anti-oxidant paste, like Noalox (trade name). –  gregmac Aug 13 '13 at 17:30
3  
I'd also add one of the added dangers associated with AL wiring is overloaded circuits. Houses built in that time frame tended to have fuse boxes and fewer circuits. The appliances we use today are higher-power and we obviously have many more electronic devices, which can cause circuits to run near their limits, or even trip. When AL wires expand and contract they can leave an air gap, where the AL can oxidize (leading to more problems) or arc (which can cause a fire). If fuses are tripping, some people will replace then with higher-rated fuses, which is obviously totally wrong and unsafe. –  gregmac Aug 13 '13 at 17:43
1  
That is a good point. Whenever I inspect a house for family/friend... we do a full circuit check which takes a couple hours and 3-4 people yelling and filling out a spreadsheet. –  DMoore Aug 13 '13 at 18:32
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.