Alumimum wiring: house fire

Got a call to investigate an electrical fire in a house last week. It was 7:00 a.m., the residents were awake and noticed flames coming out of the walls.

If you look closely, you’ll see the outlet says: “CU Wire Only”

It was a rental house. The residents moved out and I had the electricity and water to the home turned off until the owner makes the house electrically safe (in my capacity as the local AHJ).

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As a Home Inspector and a Professional Fire Fighter, I have seen numerous homes with aluminum wiring problems (including fires). I have also seen some homes with aluminum wiring that do not seem to have any problems.
I always call out aluminum wiring and list the problems associated with it.
I was wondering, as the local AHJ, what do you consider making the home electrically safe? I have seen multiple ways to deal with aluminum wiring, but I only know of two ways that are approved or safe/correct (per most industry experts).

Go read up on these;

I don’t think the connectors show on the website you listed ( ) are one of the prefered methods of repair. These connectors still require a screw/torque and two different types of wire with different properties.
Actually the question I had, was what a local AHJ (Joe in this case) considers a proper/safe repair (making the house electrically safe).
I know some electrians consider the connector you posted a safe repair method, but I was wondering about various AHJ’s.

Great question. I don’t feel like I can require any particular type of repair. Just that the receptacles have to be listed for use with aluminum wiring. This is part of what I’m demanding:

“…After the repair, the electrician shall provide to me a written statement on his company letterhead stating that the house has been thoroughly inspected and made electrically safe. The inspection must include a visual inspection of the condition and correct type for each outlet, switch, and circuit breaker in the home and the letter must specifically state that all branch circuit breakers and branch circuit switches and outlets are safe for use with aluminum wiring. According to the International Residential Code, the repair must include the installation of hard-wired and interconnected smoke alarms and the installation of arc-fault circuit interrupters and ground-fault circuit breakers where required.”

Cop Alum Crimps are/were popular, at one time I think they were the only endorsed by the CPSC. The tools used are not available at Home Depot :slight_smile:

Well Tim / If the tools aren’t available at HomeDepot, how is the owner gonna make repairs?

Well as long as I don’t have to inspect any Light Fixtures or Ceiling Fans…:smiley:

Could you actually find an electrical contractor who would do this and accept the liability? And does anyone really have the authority to require this?

Yep. I changed the letter…forgot about that initially.

The one electrician I know of who has bid on the job said he would only re-wire the home…no “fixes”.

The house was involved in a fire due to unsafe wiring practices. Repairs requiring a permit must occur. I have the authority to demand a full (documented) inspection of the home and repair as deemed necessary by the electrician. They have the right to appeal it (but the appeal costs $200).

Good call then Joe, it looks like you have it all covered. :smiley:

I did a 3 family that had the 3rd floor completely rebuilt due to electrical fire caused by aluminum wire. The realtor told my client that all the aluminum was removed from the house until I showed him it was still in 2 of the four panels. In fact, the new 3rd floor had a sub panel in it that was doubled tapped off of the sub-panel lugs in the cellar. He called the electrician that did the work who came over to challange me. I asked him if he wanted me to call the AHJ as a mediator. The sad part is the AHJ approved the installation after the fire. Must have been a “phone-in.”

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A building official/inspector would be overstepping his authority by demanding that aluminum wiring be removed. The double-tapping should have been caught, however.

In the photos I see aluminum feeder conductors and not aluminum branch circuit wiring. Aluminum conductors in larger sizes were never really a problem when installed correctly.

the second circuit down on the left was one of them, the electrician took it off to verify while I was there and there were more in another panel. My client specified in his agreement to have it all removed as a condition of sale along with fixing the double tap feeder to the 3rd floor panel.

It’s hard to tell from conclusively from the photo but I would bet that the conductor on the second CB on the left is tin coated copper and not aluminum. Not to say that the old dried out rubber installtion cannot be a fire hazard.