The Inspection Bureau, Inc.
"Electrical Safety Since 1888"
Information For Aluminum Retrofit Jobs
We frequently are asked what is the best way to deal with the wiring in homes that were built between 1965 and 1973, where the 15 and 20 amp branch circuits are wired with aluminum conductors.
the use of aluminum branch circuit conductors has been suspended for 15 and 20
amp branch circuits, aluminum wiring is still installed in homes every day.
Examples include service entrance conductors, feeder cables, HVAC circuits,
range circuits, dryer circuits, etc.
Almost all of the problems that we hear about today have
to do with “old technology” aluminum wiring that has been terminated on
switches and receptacles that had their UL listing withdrawn because of the
problems that developed with the connection between the aluminum branch circuit
conductor and the brass alloy screw on the device.
The permanent solution is
the Copalum method. (This is a crimp method of joining a copper pigtail to
the aluminum wire. The copper pigtail is then terminated on each device.)
The second method is the
use of wire-nuts or other approved devices that are UL listed for this purpose. (This method also
consists of joining a copper pigtail to the aluminum wire. The copper pigtail is
then terminated on each device.)
The third method is to
replace the switch and receptacle devices with devices that are listed for use
with aluminum wire. (This method is probably the least preferred by the
inspection community because subsequent homeowners may unknowingly replace the
aluminum rated devices with unapproved devices.)
Bureau, Inc. is not in a position to recommend or endorse any of the three
methods mentioned above. Any of these methods, if done properly by a skilled
electrician, will improve safety. Arguments can be made pro or con for each
method. Also, when retrofitting, be sure to correct the lighting fixture and
appliance terminations. Additional
information about repairing aluminum wiring may be obtained from the U.S.
Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.cpsc.gov.
Poe, Chief Electrical Inspector