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Pigtails, Aluminiu, AFCI devices, and what defines Modifying a circuit

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    Pigtails, Aluminiu, AFCI devices, and what defines Modifying a circuit

    Scenario: Existing residential apartment complex was completely wired with aluminium wire and aluminium/copper non-tamper resistant devices. Insurance is requiring all aluminium connections (even connections that are being made to the aluminium/copper devices) to be replaced with a pigtail with an aluminium to copper wire nut. Building is old enough that the existing load centers are non-arc fault protected.

    Question A: If I pull out the existing devices, disconnect the device, install a copper pigtail and reinstall the existing device back in place, does that constitute modifying the circuit and thus requiring me to bring the circuit up to the latest code including but not limited to installing a new tamper-resistant device? What are the requirements that would force me to bring the said circuit up to code? I believe the arc-fault exemption in 210.2(B) would exempt me from adding arc-fault protection. This would exemption would not allow me to add an exhaust hood to the existing circuit without updating the circuit.

    Question B: Due to the replacement of all aluminium connections, we are required to install pigtails in load center as well. Am I allowed to splice all of these conductors inside of the load center? Similar to Question A, would this constitute modify the circuit and requiring me to bringing the circuit up to code?

    Question C: If we replaced the existing load centers with new load centers with arc-fault "combination" breakers, would they sufficiently protect against overheating from aluminium wiring issues? Maybe a cheaper option than going through entire unit and rewiring all devices.

    Thank you for all the help in advance! They have an "consulting engineer" helping them on this project, but I don't think they are thinking through this 100%.

    #2
    Back when we used aluminum wire or even copper clad aluminum wire, the wire was #10. We never had an issue that I recall with the wire or devices. Some of the devices were even "quick-wired" (stabbed in), with no problems.
    Of course, the insurance company can want most anything. Has anyone considered pointing some things to them like all the products were/are listed for the way they were installed, etc..
    To me, pig-tailing the wires to copper, just opens up another possible problem point!

    Comment


      #3
      I have a conference call with the architect and engineer tomorrow. I am just trying to make sure that I am not crazy and that there is actually an issue.

      They are also replacing the GFI receptacles in the kitchen, which also makes me wonder if I will be required to protect these devices with some type of AFCI protection.

      Comment


        #4
        Pigtailing copper in probably constitutes modifying the circuit enough to warrant AFCI. If you're asking legally, I dont know and wouldnt tell you if I did.

        I'd seriously check into Alumiconns vs Al/Co wirenuts

        As to Question C: no AFCI I know of is going to prevent substandard or overworked/overloaded wiring from overheating. Melted devices and the like are probably due to poor/aged terminations vs undersized wire.
        Electricians do it until it Hertz!

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by JFletcher View Post

          I'd seriously check into Alumiconns vs Al/Co wirenuts
          i've seen purple wirenuts melt just like red ones.

          copalum, given the occupancy you are working with, would
          be all i'd consider using. not many people are available to do
          it however, and getting certified yourself was, last time i looked,
          pretty sucky.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSTlBWGu3pM
          ~New signature under construction.~
          ~~~~Please excuse the mess.~~~~

          Comment


            #6
            I curse the day that AFCI's were put into the NEC.

            Comment


              #7
              Pigtailing copper in probably constitutes modifying the circuit enough to warrant AFCI. If you're asking legally, I dont know and wouldnt tell you if I did.

              I was thinking that unless you added 6 feet to the circuit, AFCI were not required?

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by peter d View Post
                I curse the day that AFCI's were put into the NEC.
                peter, please.

                consider all the good it's done... pass & seymours 3rd quarter earnings were up 11%
                ~New signature under construction.~
                ~~~~Please excuse the mess.~~~~

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Fulthrotl View Post
                  i've seen purple wirenuts melt just like red ones.

                  copalum, given the occupancy you are working with, would
                  be all i'd consider using. not many people are available to do
                  it however, and getting certified yourself was, last time i looked,
                  pretty sucky.

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSTlBWGu3pM
                  The alumiconns are better than the purple wire nuts. Here's their info:

                  http://www.kinginnovation.com/produc...port-alumiconn

                  That it is CPSC approved should be enough for the insurance co. Same price about as purple wire nuts ($3 ea), run cooler, smaller than the wire nuts and easier to fit in tight boxes.

                  If he has a ton of connections to do, and it sounds like that, the Copalum system would be worth it.
                  Electricians do it until it Hertz!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Fulthrotl View Post
                    peter, please.

                    consider all the good it's done... pass & seymours 3rd quarter earnings were up 11%
                    Good point, shame on me for not being in on the ground floor of this investment opportunity.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by JFletcher View Post
                      Pigtailing copper in probably constitutes modifying the circuit enough to warrant AFCI.
                      grgarber: I would ask whether it could be considered extending the circuit less than 6' (and less than 6") by putting the pigtail in, although that consideration is more often applied to the panel end of the run.
                      If you are not replacing the receptacles themselves and thus triggering mandatory AFCI, I suspect an AHJ would approve. But this is a gray enough area nationwide that you really need to find out from your own AHJ how they interpret it.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by JDB3 View Post
                        Pigtailing copper in probably constitutes modifying the circuit enough to warrant AFCI. If you're asking legally, I dont know and wouldnt tell you if I did.

                        I was thinking that unless you added 6 feet to the circuit, AFCI were not required?
                        I thought that was on the panel end. idk. VA isnt under the 14 NEC so I dont have it to see.

                        We had this convo last week; even replacing 3 prong receptacles under the 14 NEC requires AFCI unless one of the exceptions is met. and really, if you are removing them to add pigtails, you might as well replace them. You can just cut them loose vs having to remove every wire. Probably a bit more money parts vs labor, but if you are adding a ton of AFCI, might as well do the receptacles too - they are pushing 45 years old if original and wired to aluminum.

                        eta: if you replace them, you can spend time in the shop making and adding pigtails instead of someone's house. Doing it assembly line style in a shop will save labor vs doing it all in the field.
                        Electricians do it until it Hertz!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Fulthrotl View Post
                          i've seen purple wirenuts melt just like red ones.

                          copalum, given the occupancy you are working with, would
                          be all i'd consider using. not many people are available to do
                          it however, and getting certified yourself was, last time i looked,
                          pretty sucky.

                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSTlBWGu3pM
                          Yeah, the tool is major $$$$ ($20,000 or more comes to mind) and of course the required training that comes with it. You need to be doing AL to CU work on a steady basis to make any financial sense of that one.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Questions answered in blue......

                            Originally posted by grgarber View Post
                            Scenario: Existing residential apartment complex was completely wired with aluminium wire and aluminium/copper non-tamper resistant devices. Insurance is requiring all aluminium connections (even connections that are being made to the aluminium/copper devices) to be replaced with a pigtail with an aluminium to copper wire nut. Building is old enough that the existing load centers are non-arc fault protected.

                            Question A: If I pull out the existing devices, disconnect the device, install a copper pigtail and reinstall the existing device back in place, does that constitute modifying the circuit and thus requiring me to bring the circuit up to the latest code including but not limited to installing a new tamper-resistant device? What are the requirements that would force me to bring the said circuit up to code? I believe the arc-fault exemption in 210.2(B) would exempt me from adding arc-fault protection. This would exemption would not allow me to add an exhaust hood to the existing circuit without updating the circuit.
                            [COLOR=#0000ff]
                            The 210.12(B) 6 foot exception is mainly for panel replacements and that 6 feet is going to disappear awfully quick (just doing 4" pt's at each device means the 6ft is gone after 6 devices) after all those pigtails- thus invoking 210.12.[/COLOR]
                            [COLOR=#0000ff]If you replace the devices, 406.4 (D 4&5) tells you about AFCI requirements and TP (TP devices are further elaborated on in 406.12)- you need them both.[/COLOR]

                            Question B: Due to the replacement of all aluminium connections, we are required to install pigtails in load center as well. Am I allowed to splice all of these conductors inside of the load center? Similar to Question A, would this constitute modify the circuit and requiring me to bringing the circuit up to code?

                            [COLOR=#0000ff]Yes, you can splice in the panel and again you are most likely stuck with 210.12 unless provided an exemption by your ahj- remember that 6 ft exception is already gone before you even start on the panel splices.[/COLOR]

                            Question C: If we replaced the existing load centers with new load centers with arc-fault "combination" breakers, would they sufficiently protect against overheating from aluminium wiring issues? Maybe a cheaper option than going through entire unit and rewiring all devices.

                            [COLOR=#0000ff]Use of this forums search function will give you more than enough opinion about AFCIs......[/COLOR][COLOR=#0000ff]
                            [/COLOR][COLOR=#0000ff]
                            And lastly, I strongly recommend and second the use of the Alumiconn product posted by JFletcher vs. the purple wire nut.[/COLOR]

                            Thank you for all the help in advance! They have an "consulting engineer" helping them on this project, but I don't think they are thinking through this 100%.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by user 100 View Post
                              Questions answered in blue......
                              The 6' exception is total?? I was figuring per circuit. How exactly does the 14 NEC read on that?
                              Electricians do it until it Hertz!

                              Comment

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