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  1. #1

    Default Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Inspected a home today and I think it might have aluminum branch wiring but I am not 100% sure.

    The reason I am not positive is because the vast majority of the box is obviously copper but there are a select few breakers that look aluminum (however I know they make coated wiring that kind of looks aluminum even though it isn't) and because the diameter still looks 14 gauge and not 12 gauge but I only eyeballed it.

    This home had a lot of shoddy DIY work and I am thinking he added aluminum wiring to the bottom of the box for an addition in the basement and I just want to be sure it's not just some type of coated 14 gauge copper before I advise my client.100_4623.JPG100_4627.JPG100_4628.JPG

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Yes it is.

    And those are 20 amp breakers so it better not be 14.

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Looks like aluminum wiring to me

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Looks like aluminum to me. You should always look at the neutral bus bar, its easier to tell if its tinned copper there.

    Jeff said, "And those are 20 amp breakers so it better not be 14." - Actually they would need to be #10 I believe for a 20 amp.


  5. #5

    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Looks like aluminum to me. You should always look at the neutral bus bar, its easier to tell if its tinned copper there.

    Jeff said, "And those are 20 amp breakers so it better not be 14." - Actually they would need to be #10 I believe for a 20 amp.
    He said he eyeballed it at 14. I agreed, needs to be 10 AWG

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  6. #6

    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Thanks I thought it was aluminum and yes it looks like 14 gauge but not sure, its very DIY in the basement and they all go to unfinished strapping without drywall in the basement I am going to recommend it all be removed and if the client wishes to finish the basement work to have it done by a licensed electrician with permits.


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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Also check the sheathing, as it may be a further clue that its alu. wire.


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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    It looks like aluminum to me. When I find tin dipped copper it's usually cloth sheathed and in homes built before 1950. When in doubt I turn off the breaker and pull the wire to look at the bare end.


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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    I don't think 14ga aluminum was even made.
    12ga>

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trent Tarter View Post
    It looks like aluminum to me. When I find tin dipped copper it's usually cloth sheathed and in homes built before 1950. When in doubt I turn off the breaker and pull the wire to look at the bare end.
    Usually ... tinned copper was used with rubber insulation as the copper reacted with the rubber and the tin coating isolated the two compounds from each other.

    Rubber insulated wiring was mostly gone by the late 1940s to early 1950s and was replaced by thermoplastic insulation.

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    I don't think 14ga aluminum was even made.
    12ga>
    Beat me to the punch.....
    I've never seen 14g aluminum. Since Noah, 15amp required minimum 12g al.

    Many defects or errors in your photos, but I'm sure you covered that.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Sure they did, and do.

    18AWG speaker cable. Electronics Cable and many others. readily available today. Just not approved for house or building branch circuit wiring.

    Years ago they even made 14 AWG for low amp home wiring and I have even seen 10 amp beakers used with it for modular homes and RV's, although very, very, very rare.

    Many low end light fixtures come with it today, both AL, and Tinned Copper. Mostly Tinned Copper.

    Last edited by JeffGHooper; 02-17-2015 at 11:20 AM.
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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Yep - Looks like Aluminum to me too but it also looks a little bigger than the Copper - Maybe that is the photo ?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Yep - Looks like Aluminum to me too but it also looks a little bigger than the Copper - Maybe that is the photo ?


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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post

    Sure they did, and do.
    18AWG speaker cable. Electronics Cable and many others. readily available today.
    I don't think anyone was talking about speaker wire. Though I even doubt speaker wire would be made of aluminum.
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    Just not approved for house or building branch circuit wiring.
    Bingo, That's what I was talking about. Wiring in houses

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    Years ago they even made 14 AWG for low amp home wiring
    Can you document?
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    Many low end light fixtures come with it today, both AL, and Tinned Copper. Mostly Tinned Copper.
    Again, can you provide documentation.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    I don't think anyone was talking about speaker wire. Though I even doubt speaker wire would be made of aluminum.

    Bingo, That's what I was talking about. Wiring in houses

    Can you document?

    Again, can you provide documentation.

    Sure, when I get back to the office I will post links. The information is readily available should you wish to explore.

    Yes, lots of speaker wire, the cheap stuff, is AL. Common knowledge.

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  16. #16

    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Like I said, very, very very rare.

    If you are not doing real high end homes with specialty systems I would not expect you to run into it as basic home wiring is just that, basic.

    The Q110 is a 10 amp breaker and the Q210 is a 2 pole 10 amp beaker. Rated for AL. see:

    http://w3.usa.siemens.com/powerdistr...07-019-028.pdf

    There are others. Like AIRPAX - UPL1-1RO-2433-3 - Circuit breaker. 10Amp 250V 50/60Hz.

    See page 10 of this one for Square D 10 amp breakers for 14 AWG AL at the bottom. It is a QO.

    http://www.schneider-electric.us/doc...talog-2013.pdf

    or

    https://www.altestore.com/mmsolar/ot...t_Breakers.pdf

    Here is a roll of 14 AWG at Lowes for you:

    Shop 25-ft 14-AWG Solid Aluminum Wire (By-the-Roll) at Lowes.com

    Just for fun I will throw in some 14 AWG AL fence wire. Just because of the way you asked.

    Fi-Shock? Aluminum Wire, 14 Gauge, 1/4 Mile - Tractor Supply Co.

    Here is a little speaker wire for your next project from home depot. One is copper the other is AL.

    CE TECH 100 ft. 18-Gauge Stranded Speaker Wire-Y611814 - The Home Depot

    Never say never! I could go on but I think you get the jest! Light fixtures from China I forgot, I will let you do the leg work for that one. Just the tip of the iceberg.

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    Sure, when I get back to the office I will post links. The information is readily available should you wish to explore.

    Yes, lots of speaker wire, the cheap stuff, is AL. Common knowledge.
    The statement I made was
    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    I don't think 14ga aluminum was even made.
    12ga>
    What is shown in the OP is not speaker wire, or light fixtures. So my post was not about speaker wire or light fixtures. There is really no need to discuss them or even bring it up.

    That said
    Was 14ga single strand aluminum wire made and used for/in residential wiring?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Was it used in? Yes, but not legally unless on a 10 amp breaker.

    Was it made? Still is.

    Buy it here.

    Shop 25-ft 14-AWG Solid Aluminum Wire (By-the-Roll) at Lowes.com

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    Was it used in? Yes, but not legally unless on a 10 amp breaker.

    Was it made? Still is.

    Buy it here.

    Shop 25-ft 14-AWG Solid Aluminum Wire (By-the-Roll) at Lowes.com

    I learned something new
    Thank you

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    That solid Al with the insulation on? makes great fish tape for pulling wire into wall cavities.
    You can get a nice hook on the end, strip off a few " of insulation and bend a tiny hook in there.

    I have a chunk of that with a hook to go fishing for insulation behind a wall outlet.

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    Was it used in? Yes, but not legally unless on a 10 amp breaker.

    Was it made? Still is.

    Buy it here.

    Shop 25-ft 14-AWG Solid Aluminum Wire (By-the-Roll) at Lowes.com
    Reading is fundamental. The wiring is not aluminum, it is copper as required by the NEC. The sheath is aluminum. Entirely different animal. Using the above statement would mean the NM cable have plastic conductors. You cannot rely on the descriptions written by someone with no product knowledge. I would have hoped someone performing inspections would have a better knowledge of code requirements and products.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    I learned something new
    Thank you
    I learn something new every day Rick.

    The day I do not, I better get out of the business, cuz that's when the fat letters arrive1 LOL

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Jeff
    I'm not being argumentative, I just want to know.
    Was 14ga single strand wire made with a plactic sheath (Romex)?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Reading is fundamental. The wiring is not aluminum, it is copper as required by the NEC. The sheath is aluminum. Entirely different animal. Using the above statement would mean the NM cable have plastic conductors. You cannot rely on the descriptions written by someone with no product knowledge. I would have hoped someone performing inspections would have a better knowledge of code requirements and products.
    Yes, and I still do not see where that is stated; however, I will give you that. Other posts below that I made have links to solid and braided AL.

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Again, it comes down to product knowledge. How can you inspect without knowing what you are looking at?

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    To my knowledge yes in the early 70's, before we knew of the problems, and I have inspected such. In fact the original posters photo may be just that. The modular home industry used it extensively. Maybe not in the ROMEX brand name. NM I believe.

    Jerry may know more and be able to chime in.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Again, it comes down to product knowledge. How can you inspect without knowing what you are looking at?
    Are you talking to me? Ok.

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    Question Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trent Tarter View Post
    It looks like aluminum to me. When I find tin dipped copper it's usually cloth sheathed and in homes built before 1950. When in doubt I turn off the breaker and pull the wire to look at the bare end.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Usually ... tinned copper was used with rubber insulation as the copper reacted with the rubber and the tin coating isolated the two compounds from each other.

    Rubber insulated wiring was mostly gone by the late 1940s to early 1950s and was replaced by thermoplastic insulation.
    Jerry, This is not meant to be argumentative but for my education. You posted before about tinned copper wiring having a rubber insulation and how the rubber breaks down. Thank you for that information. However, like Trent I usually see tinned copper with a cloth insulation and pre 1950. Is this a geographic thing or ??

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    The rubber insulation had a cloth overwrap. Fabric was not the insulation. Consider the older AC cables for an example.

    - - - Updated - - -

    The rubber insulation had a cloth overwrap. Fabric was not the insulation. Consider the older AC cables for an example.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    [QUOTE=Jim Port;254180]The rubber insulation had a cloth overwrap. Fabric was not the insulation. Consider the older AC cables for an example.

    Jim, Did all tinned copper have a rubber insulation with cloth sheathing or did some of it have a cloth loom insulation that was saturated with rubber?

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    The only method I remember with fabric insulation was knob and tube. I do not remember any of that being tinned.

    Perhaps one of the older members can add to this. Jerry, are you out there?

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  31. #31

    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    [QUOTE=Tom Rees;254182]
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    The rubber insulation had a cloth overwrap. Fabric was not the insulation. Consider the older AC cables for an example.

    Jim, Did all tinned copper have a rubber insulation with cloth sheathing or did some of it have a cloth loom insulation that was saturated with rubber?
    From what I understand the tinning came about because of the rubber as they noticed the reaction between the rubber and copper. The attached is very basic, but a good history. He is not completely accurate on some of his dates.

    https://www.dli.mn.gov/ccld/PDF/eli_GFCI_history.pdf

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    They do make 14 gauge (and smaller) insulated aluminum wire and cable; it's often used to connect to electric fences made of aluminum. It's better than connecting copper wire to the aluminum fence. Insulated because the connections are often buried running from the charger, which is located indoors. I think I've seen it for sale in farm supply places and rural hardware stores.
    Small gauges are available because while the voltages are high, the amperage is quite low.

    I've also seen low diameter aluminum conductor cable used for low voltage outdoor LED lights. In this case, both low voltage low amp. I think these were two-conductor DC, no ground wire in the cable.

    I am NOT an electrician.


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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    [QUOTE=JeffGHooper;254186]Very interesting
    Thanks for posting

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    Yes it is.

    And those are 20 amp breakers so it better not be 14.
    To complete the thought in case not everyone recognizes your point, a 20 A breaker requires 10AWG or larger Aluminum


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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyle Montgomery View Post
    Inspected a home today and I think it might have aluminum branch wiring but I am not 100% sure.

    The reason I am not positive is because the vast majority of the box is obviously copper but there are a select few breakers that look aluminum (however I know they make coated wiring that kind of looks aluminum even though it isn't) 100_4627.JPG100_4628.JPG
    So far as I know, coated copper was only used in rubber-insulated wiring. If it's normal building wire and it's thermoplastic-insulated, . . . aluminum.


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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Rees View Post
    However, like Trent I usually see tinned copper with a cloth insulation and pre 1950. Is this a geographic thing or ??
    Tom,

    What I suspect you are referring to is cloth outer sheath, not the insulation, as the cloth is not the insulation.

    NM cable with tinned copper and rubber insulation had a cloth outer sheath.

    Then they brought in thermoplastic insulation with the cloth outer sheath, then they began making NM cable basically as we know it today with thermoplastic insulation and the outer PVC sheath.

    The rubber insulation dries out and cracks and the cracks are basically "uninsulated" places where the conductors can short out or ground out. (While "air" is an insulator, you need good and reliable amount of "air" for insulation purposes, and the "air" in the cracked rubber insulation is nowhere equivalent to what the rubber insulation was originally.

    Most likely ... any rubber insulated NM cable you find really needs to be replaced due to the deteriorated insulation.

    Added - I guess I should have read the other newer posts first before replying ... they already addressed this.

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Jerry, Found a good picture of tinned copper from one of my older reports. I can see what you were talking about the insualtion cracking. Just didn't look like rubber to me at the time.

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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    [QUOTE=JeffGHooper;254186]
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Rees View Post

    From what I understand the tinning came about because of the rubber as they noticed the reaction between the rubber and copper. The attached is very basic, but a good history. He is not completely accurate on some of his dates.

    https://www.dli.mn.gov/ccld/PDF/eli_GFCI_history.pdf

    Jeff This is a great article - thank you for sharing - nice piece to help educate customers that are purchasing older homes which may in fact be museums of electrification


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    Default Re: Is This Aluminum Wiring?

    Tom,

    Yes, that looks like rubber insulation which is dried out and cracked, and is cracking off the conductor.

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