Piper Electric Co., Inc. has been dealing with aluminum wire termination for as long as we’ve been in business. Our Colorado licensed electricians can assess your wiring systems to see if you have any termination problems, and they will tell you exactly what needs to be done before you pay anything. You can be sure that we will make the electrical systems in your home as safe as possible without using unnecessarily expensive techniques.
In the late sixties, and early seventies aluminum wiring began to be used because most available copper was going to the Vietnam war effort. However, aluminum wiring is not ideal for small home electrical systems. The electrical devices at that time were not designed to handle the high temperature coefficients of aluminum wiring. Aluminum wires can also expand in diameter and length as they get hot, they can actually back out the screw terminals, causing a loose connection. This, in turn, can cause heat, which can ultimately lead to a fire.
After problems with aluminum wire termination became known—including one notable house fire—the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and other agencies adopted new safety regulations and put more restrictive standards in place. However, many homes from the 60s and 70s still do not have safe aluminum wiring terminations. But there are a number of ways to solve this problem without having to rewire a home.
The Piper Electric Co., Inc way of Aluminum Wire Termination
There are different methods of aluminum wire termination that are approved by the UL. COPALUM ®, ALUMICONN ®, and the Ideal Industries Twister ®. This Twister® device is when electricians use a pigtail device, which is specifically designed for aluminum/copper terminations. This is the method we prefer at Piper Electric Co., Inc. because it is effective but doesn’t have all of the drawbacks of the other techniques. It is UL approved, and can cost significantly less than Copalum or Alumiconn.
Consumer Safety Council Recommendations
According to the Consumer Safety Council, there are only two approved methods that splice aluminum wire to copper wire:
- COPALUM: A crimping method that can only be learned at a school in Oregon and requires a special crimper that can only be leased from a single manufacturer. These limitations make this method the most expensive.
- ALUMICONN: A mechanical lug that has a precise torque requirement which can only be performed by a torqueing screwdriver, which is not standard equipment for electricians. This type of connector is also very limited because of cubic capacity, which could mean that additional replacements—like the box, for example—need to be made, making this a costly solution as well
These standards have caused acceptance problems with home inspectors and insurance companies, which has led to homeowners paying 2 to 4 times as much as they should to have their aluminum wiring terminated.