Aluminum Wiring- NACHI Article

http://www.eaton.com/ecm/idcplg?IdcService=GET_FILE&allowInterrupt=1&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestReleased&Rendition=Primary&dDocName=1143077762513

Michael writes:

Yep. Exactly.

Kenneth writes:

That may be true but we’re discussing house wiring.

I can’t think of any way that aluminum wiring (even the new aluminum wiring) is better than copper. I’m all ears though and very open to learning. In what way is aluminum house wiring is better than copper?

;-):wink:

Exactly. The only way to achieve the current transfer density of copper is by using a larger aluminum wire, and I’m not convinced that transfer density is imperative in house wiring.

So is there any advantage of aluminum house wiring over copper?

Cost.

LOL. Yeah, that’s true. It’s cheaper.

I thought EVERYONE knew that. :roll:

Nick, lets not nit pick too much to CYA.
Paul has done you and all of us a great favor.
Please correct the article and move on.

And, Happy Holidays!!

Which line is wrong?

And is there any advantage of aluminum house wiring over copper? I can’t think of any.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t see anyone saying AL is “better” than CU.
That’s not what this is about.

The article contains inaccuracies and mis-statements.
Paul did a fine job pointing those out.

Yes he did. Experts do that. :wink:

I don’t think he did. He mostly agreed with the article. These excerpts from his post:

That’s agreeing with the facts, just disagreeing about which is most emphasized.

Nor did we in the article. Awesome.

Article doesn’t say otherwise. Awesome.

Yep, that’s what the article said too. Awesome.

I’m again pleased to see he thinks the sentence in the article is true.

And that is a greater worry with aluminum. I’m again pleased.

I’m again pleased to see he thinks the sentence is true.

I’m again pleased to see he thinks the sentence is true.

I’m again pleased to see he thinks the sentence is true.

I can’t find one technical disagreement between Paul’s post and the article. Can anyone specifically point to a technical inaccuracy in the article since Paul can’t?

And I don’t know of one way in which aluminum wiring is better than copper. I’m all ears though and would love to learn. Can anyone state any way that aluminum wiring is better than copper?

I want to correct any technical inaccuracies if someone can point one out specifically.
I want to add ways that aluminum wiring is better than copper if someone can point out one way specifically.
I’m not opposed to adding a section that describes new aluminum wiring, how it was improved, and why they had to improve it.

Incorrect Mr. Gromicko -

I made plenty of corrective statements that you and NACHI choose to ignore. You mislead the public about issues that are reflective of the termination issue and devoid of any statement about the fact that the screws also were changed to STEEL during the periods of termination failure as well.

I will indeed agree…you are the correct person to author a document of SPIN as your counter points are simply that…tactical spin.

Good luck…I hardly think any of your qualify as “Experts” on the subject of your article. However, if and when you would like to do a LIVE debate on the subject that is unable to be edited…and pits you directly against me for the members sake…let me know.

Point is I do not have to create “debates” to your inaccurate document. I am not the individual on trial, you are in a position to defend your negative and misleading statements made in an article that was penned by non-experts in the industry who technically know NOTHING about the real differences in CU versus AL.

Fact is…rather than create you own diversion…simply answer the questions?

Your points are in essence “True, but… bla bla bla”

Re-write the way you would prefer it to read… and post it for us all to see. That way we all learn.

Nick, how about this.
Take Pauls original post and copy it unedited.

Then insert your rebuttal to each of Pauls claims, one by one.

Simple enough I think.

I’m happy to. Paul’s comments are in red. My responses follow in black.

I think it is important for me to dispel a few quotes about Aluminum Wiring that I read in posts from time to time and in a NACHI Article. And for the purposes of this post…here is a link to that Article

Quote # 1 - The NACHI Article quoted “inherent weaknesses were discovered in the metal that lead to its disuse as a branch wiring material.”

Fact : That is incorrect, the issue was less about the compound and more about the improper terminations and installation practices of the product and less about the weaknesses in the aluminum itself. The issue during that period did however lead to industry changed in the compounds that helped elevate AA 8000 series to the building wire industry."Paul says that InterNACHI’s article which says “inherent weaknesses were discovered in the metal that lead to its disuse as a branch wiring material.” is incorrect. The sentence is very correct and Paul goes on to explain why. He points to “AA 8000.” AA 8000 isn’t an improved terminal installation practice. It is an aluminum alloy that was changed to improve the inherent weakness in the aluminum wire itself.

Quote # 2 - The NACHI Article quoted “aluminum will generally become defective faster than copper due to certain qualities inherent in the metal.”

Fact : The term “defective” is misleading and boarders on slander really. When Aluminum is properly maintained, terminated properly and is used in accordance with correct installation practices, it’s life span is equal to any other wiring compound. Do not get me wrong, I am a COPPER man but I would never say Aluminum becomes defective faster with all installation practices being equivalent. Poor workmanship and bad installation habits reduce the life expectancy of any system regardless of the conductive material being used.Paul explains that the only possible way that aluminum is equal to copper is only if it “is properly maintained, terminated properly and is used in accordance with correct installation practices.” By pointing out that there is only one scenario where A=B, he demonstrates that otherwise A≠B.

Quote # 3 - The NACHI Article quoted: “In addition, the presence of single-strand aluminum wiring may void a home’s insurance policies.”

Fact : The dwelling that has AL wiring for their branch circuits may have trouble getting insurance depending on the misunderstanding of the insurer but how could having AL single stranded AL void a warranty that someone got in the first place…if they got the insurance then the insurer new it had AL wiring in the first place. Now, it may affect if you change insurers or someone buys a house that a new insurer disliked AL branch wiring but not sure how it would void a warranty since it is assumed you had it in the first place and no one is installing new single strand AL wiring anymore…not since the early 70’s.At InterNACHI, we regularly receive consumer complaints about insurance companies refusing to insure or re-insure homes with aluminum wiring. Paul is wrong.

Quote # 4 - The NACHI Article quoted “On April, 28, 1974, two people were killed in a house fire in Hampton Bays, New York. Fire officials determined that the fire was caused by a faulty aluminum wire connection at an outlet.”

Fact: While this may be true, the article is about the AL Wiring and not the terminations. Any connection will go south if the terminations are not done correctly, how many electricians do you think actually use a Torque Wrench or Torque Screw Driver on their terminations…come on now…be honest with yourself before you answer that question.Paul first agrees with the factuality of the statement by writing “Fact: While this may be true” and then makes a statement that the article doesn’t disagree with.

Quote # 5 - The NACHI Article quotes “Aluminum possesses certain qualities that, compared with copper, make it an undesirable material as an electrical conductor.”

Fact: - So we know that CU has (1) Electron the VAL Shell and AL has (3) Electrons in the VAL Shell…ok…we know that the DC resistance of the two are not similar…but then again…we know this and adjust for this in a size per amp basis…the larger the conductor the less resistance. Now I will not venture into AC reactance, capacitance and complex impedance since it was not discussed in this article…but there is a reason we upsize AL from CU…but I would not go as far as saying it is “undesirable material”…Just sayin!Nor does InterNACHI’s article claim that AL is an undesirable material because we upsize AL from CU.

Quote # 6 - The NACHI Article quotes less ductile. Aluminum will fatigue and break down more readily when subjected to bending and other forms of abuse than copper, which is more ductile. Fatigue will cause the wire to break down internally and will increasingly resist electrical current, leading to a buildup of excessive heat."

Fact: The old AA1350 was prone to that IF you installed it using a poor workmanship type manner. Granted we can’t watch every installation and determine what was installed improperly…However, the bending done during an installation process is usually not the same type of being tolerances one would experience with a piece of AA 1350, stripped of it’s protective insulation…and just bending it back and forth until heat builds up and the product fails…so considering Apples to Apples…I would worry more about the terminations itself than the actual wiring. Now, in the examples of fires…provide us one example of the actual AL wiring failing…other than the terminations (Connections)…and I will show you both CU and AL termination failures…Paul points out that InterNACHI’s article makes the claim that aluminum is less ductile than copper. The InterNACHI article is correct. Aluminum is less ductile than copper. Conversely, copper has a higher ductility than any other metal except gold and silver. Look it up.

Quote# 7- The NACHI Article quotes “galvanic corrosion. In the presence of moisture, aluminum will undergo galvanic corrosion when it comes into contact with certain dissimilar metals.”

Fact: While the galvanic action is true…less us not forget it can happen in any situation where dissimilar metals are in contact. Any conductor that is installed needs to be observed carefully in any environment that it is placed.Paul first agrees with the factuality of the statement by writing “Fact: While the galvanic action is true.” and then reminds us “not to forget it can happen in any situation where dissimilar metals are in contact.” Nothing in InterNACHI’s article disagrees that galvanic action can happen in other situations.

Quote # 8 - The NACHI Article quotes oxidation. Exposure to oxygen in the air causes deterioration to the outer surface of the wire. This process is called oxidation. Aluminum wire is more easily oxidized than copper wire, and the compound formed by this process – aluminum oxide – is less conductive than copper oxide. As time passes, oxidation can deteriorate connections and present a fire hazard. "

Fact: it is true that AL is prone to AL Oxide and Oxidation and that specific compound or complex compound it is less conductive then a conductor without it at the terminations. However, on a properly installed termination that is torqued correctly the mechanical bond of the lug or screw to the contact points on the material will lessen the AL Oxidation process. In fact, in many cases the AL Oxide is only an initial corrosion type event and then provides a protective barrier to further corrosion. it does not affect the current carrying capacity of the conductor itself…so when using AL it is critical to terminate properly…Torque properly…use the correct type of lugs for the material being used…and clean the AL prior to termination…if this is done the AL Oxide will not breach the contact points on the material and the termination…again it is all about how you do the termination…having AL Oxidation on an AL Conductor in of itself is not a problem and will not alter the performance of the product.Paul first agrees with the factuality of the statement by writing “*Fact: it is true that AL is prone to AL Oxide and Oxidation and that specific compound or complex compound it is less conductive then a conductor without it at the terminations. *” and then reminds us that on a properly installed termination that is torqued correctly the mechanical bond of the lug or screw to the contact points on the material will lessen the AL Oxidation process. Nothing in InterNACHI’s article disagrees.

Quote #8 - The NACHI Article quoted greater malleability. Aluminum is soft and malleable, meaning it is highly sensitive to compression. After a screw has been over-tightened on aluminum wiring, for instance, the wire will continue to deform or “flow” even after the tightening has ceased. This deformation will create a loose connection and increase electrical resistance in that location."

Fact: well the basis of this is correct. I would simply say that over compressing any conductor (AL or CU) will damage the connection which is why it is so important to get to know what a Torque Wrench or Torque Screw Driver is and how to properly use it…What you are referring to in the “loose connection” is referred to as “Creep” in the Wire and Cable Industry. Again it comes down to properly torquing a termination. You see…installer error might be more forgiving on CU than AL…but then again thats why the Electricians get paid the big bucks…(sarcasm)…If you install a 4/0 AL in an SE Cable to a lug and you do not use a torque wrench…then you are not doing your job properly…thats my opinion…learn how to use your equipment or leave the trade…Also in the Article it talks about expansion and contraction…FYI…all metals do this…read above to solve that issue.Paul first agrees with the factuality of the statement by writing “Fact: well the basis of this is correct.” and then goes on to remind us that over compressing any conductor (AL or CU) will damage the connection which is why it is so important to get to know what a Torque Wrench or Torque Screw Driver is and how to properly use it. InterNACHI’s article doesn’t disagree that it is important to know what a torque screw driver is.

OK…I will leave the rest of that Article alone because it does present some information that is very helpful to those individuals who are dealing with Insurance related issues or so on. However, the real problem I have with the article is the blanket statement that sums up the article.

NACHI quoted " In summary, aluminum wiring can be a fire hazard due to inherent qualities of the metal. Inspectors should be capable of identifying this type of wiring."

I STRONGLY DISAGREE…and I am a COPPER GUY at heart…the statement tends to lean in a direction that all AL Wiring is a fire hazard and that the inherent qualities of the metal are a poor conductor. The NFPA has listed AL within the NFPA 70 for many years and is still listed…We use AL for Service Conductors, Feeders in all types of applications without an problems. In fact, 9 of 10 homes inspectors right now probably have an AL Service Entrance Cable, Service Drop, Service Conductors Overhead or Underground and numerous feeders in their home as we speak…if you wish to call out AL Branch Circuit Wiring then so be it…but I would focus less on the compound itself and more on the actual improper terminations…and more on how AL has evolved as a result of the negative results of the late 60’s and early 70’s…Paul again doesn’t disagree with the factuality of the article but rather the focus and goes on to say that he would “focus less on the compound itself and more on the actual improper terminations.” But improper terminations are more of an issue with aluminum than copper because aluminum creeps more than copper at the terminations. There are two reasons for this: Copper’s coefficient of expansion is similar to the other metals found in devices and aluminum’s coefficient of expansion is about 1.5 times greater than copper.

Here is a Summary- The Aluminum used TODAY is not the same Aluminum used in the building trades of YESTERYEAR. It has EVOLVED; giving AL in general a black-eye is misleading at best in my opinion.

Now those are my opinions…to which I am entitled.Paul’s summary supports InterNACHI’s article’s focus when he says that “Aluminum used TODAY is not the same Aluminum used in the building trades of YESTERYEAR.” Note that in his summary he focuses on the aluminum itself, much like InterNACHI’s article did and points out that the industry made a change to the aluminum alloy itself. And now you know why the change to the alloy itself was made.

But re-write it or portions of it and we’ll look at it. I want to be fair to aluminum wiring.

Paul does some work for the Aluminum Association with regard to aluminum wiring. So I want to be careful that the article doesn’t become a PR piece for the Aluminum Association that merely advocates for their product.

Thanks Nick & Paul It’s been good reading this thread.

That is what nicky spin looks like folks :roll: