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Aluminum/Copper Pigtailing

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission staff and other government officials have investigated numerous complaints from homeowners across the nation who have had trouble with small gauge aluminum branch circuit wiring.  The commission's research shows that homes with aluminum wiring are 55 times more likely to have one or more connections reach fire hazard conditions than a house wired with copper.

 

The hazards occurred at connections of aluminum wiring to outlets and appliances such as dishwashers, furnaces, etc.  Corrosion of the metal itself (especially aluminum) causes increased resistance to the flow of electrical current and that resistance causes overheating and subsequent fire.  Homes affected were constructed between 1965 and 1973 throughout the United States.

 

Warning signs of a faulty aluminum connection include but are not limited to:

 

  • Warm to touch faceplates on outlets and switches

 

  • Flickering lights

 

  • Non-operative or intermittent power

 

  • A sizzling sound at the wall box

 

  • The smell of buring plastic at the wall box

 

If you have noticed any of the above warning signs please call a licensed elcetrical contractor to remedy the situation.  Please don't try and remedy the situation yourself.  You can be electricuted, or make the wiring connection even worse with handling.  

 

The National Electrical code recogizes a few approved corrective-actions:

 

  • The aluminum wiring can be replaced throughout the structure.  This is obviously the more expensive route of repair.  

 

  • The aluminum wiring can be pigtailed to copper wiring with UL listed and NEC approved AL/CU wirenuts.

 

  • AMP (part of Tyco) manufactures the COPALUM system. It's a form of pigtailing, but we use a special machine that applies (IIRC) over 20 tons of force to the crimp. When it's done, it is as safe as you can possibly get with the notoriously unsafe aluminum wiring.

 

Anything Electric can perform these repairs for you.  We have effectively pigtailed dozens of homes in the last 20-years and we look forward to making your home a safer place to live.