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Aluminium Wiring Related Questions

Is your old aluminium wiring causing shorts and other problems? Is replacing it the only solution? Wiring replacement and modifications must be done according to code. To ensure that the changes and repairs that you make are the right ones, the guidance of verified electrical Experts can be invaluable. Read below to see a few of the questions on aluminium wiring that Experts have answered.

When a 60 amp sub-panel is being installed 60 feet from the main panel, what gauge aluminium wiring should be used?

Case Details: A conduit is not being used.

#3 aluminium wire can be used. Four wires will be needed. It should be ensured that the sub panel has a separate ground and neutral that do not bond to the neutral of the main panel. If there is no conduit a cable called AL SER should be used. It will have all the conductors and ground in one cable.

What cost effective modifications are recommended to improve safety in an old home with aluminium wiring?

Case Details: This will include the main power bars.

The SE cables and panel being aluminium is not a code violation. The only modification required will be that the conductors need to be terminated using a de-ox compound on the wires. The 15 and 20 amp branch circuits will, however, require remediation. There are various ways of doing this:

  • All the cables can be replaced.
  • A Copalum method of connecting copper wires to aluminium for termination can be used.
  • Alumicon connectors can be used on light fixtures and CO/ALR devices on the switches and receptacles.

The use of Alumicon conductors may be the most cost effective. The installation of AFCI breakers on the remediated circuits will provide an additional level of safety as this would prevent the continuation of arcing on a failing circuit and give an immediate alert that a problem has occurred.

What could cause breakers to trip on a circuit with aluminum wiring and a 30 amp breaker when a baseboard heater is used?

Case Details: The heater is warming the room as it should.

The heater could be faulty even if it is heating as it should. The first step will be to test the heater with an ohm meter. If the reading is as per the heater specifications, then that can be ruled out as the cause. In that case it is likely that there is a bad connection in the wiring that is causing the tripping.

Is it essential to replace the aluminium wiring in an old home with copper wires?

If the existing wiring is not giving any problems, there should be no urgent need to replace it. It is important to ensure that the switches and receptacles are rated for aluminium wire. The main issue with aluminium wiring is that when there is a loose connection that results in heat buildup the metal melts and oozes away making the situation worse which creates even more heat.

What could cause a 30 amp 220 volt breaker on a circuit with aluminium wiring to become so hot one of the screws on it glows red?

One reason for this to happen could be an overloading of the circuit. This should be checked and the load reduced (or the circuit modified) if an excess load is discovered. If there is no overloading then it is possible that a loose connection is causing physical heating of the wire rather than electrical overloading.

Aluminium wire is more prone to problems of physical heating than copper because it is a softer metal and when under pressure and warm it tends to ooze away from the point of pressure. The more it oozes, the worse the problem becomes. The excessive heat could have caused the screw in the breaker to become very hot.

Another possibility is that there may be a loose contact between the breaker and the contact in the panel. The breaker should be replaced and the wiring inspected for damaged insulation which should be repaired.

If a 3 prong outlet on an circuit with aluminium wiring has a white wire to the center pole, a red wire to one side and a black one to the other, where is the ground connected?

Case details: The circuit originates at the sub-panel.

The first step will be to ensure that the sub-panel is correctly grounded to the ground bus bar. The white wire should land on the neutral bar. Once both these conditions are met a #6 lug should be attached to one of the mounting screws of the box.

This can be done by removing 1 of the box mounting screws that secure it to the wall or floor, putting the lug through the screw and then replacing the screw. The ground can then be landed to the lug.

How should a light with 1 black and 1 white wire be connected to a circuit with old cloth wrapped aluminium wiring?

Case Details: The light box on the wall as 2 wires, 1 copper colored and 1 silver.

Generally speaking, the copper colored wire should be hot and the silver wire neutral. However, with old cloth covered wires it is better to check and be sure. There should be 120 volts on the hot wire and nothing on the neutral. A voltage sensor that lights up or makes a sound when it touches a hot wire can be used to check this.

These testers are known to give a false positive indication at times due to “ghost voltage” from nearby conductors. If both the wires show as hot then a voltmeter will have to be used to check each wire. This is done by touching one of the leads to one wire and the other to ground (a metal water pipe, metal part of the building etc.)

Old aluminium wiring can be the cause of all kinds of electrical problems. In some cases replacement is the only solution and in others remedial action can be taken on the existing wiring. The recommendations of Experts can provide you with the right solutions. Going online will enable you to contact Experts who are ready to answer all your questions.

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