Re: aluminum wiring overhaul
The following will not help the original poster in her quest to fix up the wiring in her house, but will hopefully help those following this thread understand some of the issues with aluminum wiring.
Wiring installed by fixture manufacturers is often smaller than that required for branch circuit wiring. Manufactured devices have maximum ratings stamped or printed on them which is often lower than the branch circuit amp rating. In the past, it was expected that this label rating would be observed and therefore the smaller wire size was considered OK.
Originally Posted by Blue RidgeParkway
Newer fixtures that have convenience outlets typically have 14 or 12AWG wires running to the convenience outlet because experience has shown that people don't pay attention to the nameplate ratings. Table lamps still use 18AWG cords. A wall oven I bought a couple of years ago requires a "50A circuit" but has a 10 gauge copper wire pigtail (normally 30A max) installed by the manufacturer. And it's UL listed. Manufacturers get a different set of rules to play by than electricians do.
Another thing to be aware of is that the stranded wires in fixtures are often tinned copper, meaning they have a tin coating to aid in soldering, and that gives them a silvery look that could be mistaken for aluminum.
As I understand it, 14AWG aluminum wire has NEVER been permitted for residential branch circuit wiring (but a manufacturer may certainly have used it in the fixtures they produced). Aluminum is no longer permitted for 15A and 20A 120V branch circuits. But I haven't Googled that, so I can't be sure.
The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.