Help with old AL wire house

I recently bought a foreclosure in Columbia, MD and it was wired with AL wiring (built in 1974). I have already replaced most plugs and switches in the house with AL/CU rated ones, as the previous were all CU only. I have run into a bit of a problem though, and thats for the GFCI’s. I am going to need one in each bathroom and then 1 in the kitchen, only problem is I cannot find a GFCI that is AL rated. Do they make them?

If not what is the best way to proceed? Use the purple ideals to pigtail copper and use a normal GFCI. Or use a GFCI breaker for the kitchen circuit and the bathroom circuit?

I also found that both bathrooms are on the same circuit which is only on a 15 amp breaker. There is also some plugs in the bedroom that are on that same circuit. That is not code these days correct? Should this be something that needs to be addressed immediately?

Thank You


You will not find a GFI receptacle rated for use with AL wire. You could use a GFI breaker instead. You probably could not fit the GFI receptacle in the box anyway.

Be careful working with that wiring. I had quite a few that were broken or broke off just by moving the wires in the box.

Current codes would not have the bathroom receptacles sharing circuits with other rooms, except for other bath and powder room receptacles. They would also be on a 20 amp circuit.

If you need further help send a PM.


Am I going to run into any problems with the bathrooms only being on a 15amp breaker and not 20amp?

Why would you put a 15 amp breaker on a 20 amp circuit? Purchase a 20 amp GFCI breaker. . .

Unless he has #10 AL he will be limited to the 15 amp breaker size. #12 AL is only good for 15 amps.

At the time that house was built the requirement for the 20 amp circuit may not have existed. My Code books don’t go back that far.

You’re right Jim. I wasn’t paying attention :roll:

Unless you are re-wiring the house, there’s generally no rule that says you must bring the home up to current standards - codes are not retroactive.

A 20 amp circuit is certainly preferable, but you’re limited to the existing conductor size.

The problem you may run into is that the 15 am is more likely to trip, especially since it is shared outside the bathroom. Blow dryers and curling irons may bring this problem to light.

You can pigtail the Al to new Cu wire.

Thanks for the info, I think the 20amp and 15 amp GFCI breakers will be the best solution as well, esp. since i already have the normal AL/CU plugs purchased.

As far as the normal 15amp AL/CU plugs go, are they pretty safe in the long term? Are they something I should check every year to see how tight the terminals still are? Or would that be overkill? I have read many things about AL wire and it seems like everyone immediatly screams your house will burn down, but if done correctly I assume there should be minimal worries.

Unless you copalum crimp it, or rewire it, the connections should be inspected on a periodic basis.

About 5 years ago, I did a short interview about Al wire for a local Tv station. My piece was followed by a Fire Chief (25 years service) of a station right in the middle of a 1960-70’s subdivision all done with aluminum wiring. He claimed he could not remember a fire in that locale that was attributed to the AL wire. Not that care/inspection should not be used…just that it is maybe not as bad as perceived by the public.

Install lots of smoke detectors (I tell this to all my clients…they are cheap protection).

Up in my part of the world, 15A is normal for bathrooms and in middle-aged homes, a 15A GFI breaker in the panel serves the outdoor receptacles as well as the baths. The Canuck rule is 12 outlets max on 15A. Should not cause nuisance tripping, but I’m no electrician and the above would not be code compliant. An electrician would see if you do indeed have #12 gauge AL and advise you further.

I never encourage home-owner wiring for this reason. If there’s ever a fire in the wall, “Who touched the wiring last?”

John Kogel