Home Inspectors' Concerns Regarding Twist-On Connectors for Aluminum Wiring Repairs
The CPSC SAFETY concerns with aluminum wiring hazards and problems with some of the aluminum wiring repair connectors on the market
raise safety concerns. Home inspectors should review the CPSC recommendations for and against various aluminum wiring
repair connectors (available at this website).
In addition to the re-wiring option, there are aluminum-to-copper
connection products that perform well for aluminum wiring repair using the
field experience with the inspection of in-service residential
electrical wiring, the availability to consumers of any comparatively
low-cost "solution," if it is approved for only narrow, specific,
limited use, may result in widespread do-it-yourself
misapplication and possibly dangerous use of the device.
seen this problem where we've found use of common twist-on
connectors as a "retrofit" made by homeowners and electricians who
have heard that there is a "pigtailing" "fix" but who have not read
the CPSC literature or who considered the AMP TYCO COPALUM aluminum wiring repair too costly or too difficult to obtain in their area.
Improper use of connectors can actually increase the probability of a fire since
owners think the aluminum wiring hazard has been eliminated and may ignore important
signs of a looming failure.
Ordinarily the CPSC does not "approve" nor "disapprove" specific products.
An exception was the case of the "Copalum connector" for aluminum wiring,
probably because another product of equal reliability had not been
listed, and because of the inherent dangers of improper retrofit attempts.
Misunderstanding: ASHI Does Not Approve Products
In a 7/27/95 conversation with a representative from the Ideal corporation, the author was
told that the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) was in the process of
approving these connectors. This appears to have been a misunderstanding.
Home inspectors who may have heard that
such an approval was forthcoming should be advised that ASHI does not approve (nor disapprove)
7 Points of Key Aluminum Wiring Repair Advice Home Inspectors Should Give to their Clients
Aluminum Electrical Wiring repairs in a home where that work has not been performed will be a significant expense
Aluminum wiring repairs should not be deferred, as the risk increases with age and use of the electrical system; meanwhile be sure that the home has working smoke detectors, and turn off any circuits behaving oddly.
Aluminum wiring repairs should be performed only by a licensed electrician who is well informed about the correct repair methods. Using an improper repair method may actually increase the risk of a fire.
See ALUMINUM WIRING REPAIR ELECTRICIANS
Do use one of the following aluminum wiring repair methods:
Do not use any of these aluminum wiring repair methods
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ALUMINUM WIRE REPAIR METHODS to reduce risk in buildings with Aluminum Electrical Wiring - Overview of Acceptable Repair Practices (in the document you are presently viewing)
Reducing the Fire Hazards in Aluminum-Wired Homes, Jess Aronstein, Ph.D., This document answers most technical questions about the hazards and remedies of aluminum electrical wiring. Some of the sections of this very thorough document are listed below:
 J. Aronstein, "Fire Due to Overheating Aluminum Wired Branch Circuit
Connections", Electrical Safety Conference: Electrical Fires; Cause,
Prevention, Investigation. University of Wisconsin, Extension, Madison
WI, April 7, 1981.
 "National Controlled Study of Relative Risk of Overheating of
Aluminum Compared With Copper Wired Electrical Receptacles in Home and
Laboratory", Executive Summary. Prepared for U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission. Report #F-C4812-01, Franklin Research Center,
Philadelphia, PA, April 20, 1979.
 R. Newman and W.H. King, Jr., "Pilot Study of Branch Wiring Systems
in Montgomery County, Maryland", U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission, Sept., 1977.
 J. Aronstein, "Summary Report, Study of Overheating of Aluminum-Wired
Electrical Receptacles in Scarborough, Toronto, Homes", Wright-Malta
Corp., Ballston Spa, NY, January 11, 1982.
 J. Aronstein, "Test of 'Old Technology' Aluminum Wire With Twist-On
Connectors", Project Report CPSC-C-79-0079, Task II, For U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission, Wright-Malta Corp., Ballston Spa, NY, Feb.
 J. Aronstein, "Overheating Failures of Presently-Listed
Aluminum-Wired Connection Combinations Within Rated Service Conditions",
Wright-Malta Corp., Ballston Spa, NY, November 23, 1981.
 "The Trouble With Aluminum Wiring", Consumer Reports, January, 1981,
 R.L. Hicks, "Pigtail Splicing Connections for Baseboard Heaters and
Similar Cyclic Loads", Ontario Hydro Research Division, Report
#78-235-K, May 17, 1978, p. 3, (Table 1).
 "Aluminum Building Wire Installation Manual and Design Guide", The
Aluminum Association, Inc., Washington, DC. (p. 12 in 1978 Edition).
 J. Aronstein and T.K. Hare, "Evaluation and Analytical Electron
Microscopy Investigation of a Plated Aluminum Wire for Branch Circuit
Applications", IEEE Transactions: Components, Hybrids, and Mfg. Tech.,
V. CHMT-11 No. 2, June 1988.
 J. Aronstein, "Evaluation of a Twist-On Connector for Aluminum
Wire", Transactions, 43rd IEEE Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts,
 J. Aronstein, "Analysis of Field Failures of Aluminum-Copper
Pigtail Splices Made With Twist-on Connectors", Transactions, 45th IEEE
Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts, Pittsburgh, PA, 1999
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
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