Antioxidant Paste for Aluminum Wiring
Why use antioxidant paste for aluminum wiring? Oxygen in the air reacts to the aluminum wire. The resulting oxidation causes extra resistance to the electric current. It could create an increase in heat that perhaps results in a fire. Many electricians suggest changing out aluminum wires in favor of copper wiring. However, if you’re using aluminum wiring, applying an antioxidant to the aluminum wiring makes it safer.
This treatment is available in a greased form that stops the oxygen in the air from harming the aluminum. The antioxidant paste, in some applications, is not required. Pigtailing copper to aluminum with solid wire, for instance.
The use of 63 and 65 connectors do not require antioxidant paste, because it is not listed to use on the box. Manufacturer’s instructions have the last word on what and how to use their paste.
Uses of Antioxidant Paste
Conductor termination paste are for use on splice and termination connections of aluminum, copper-clad aluminum and copper conductors. The paste gets used to retard oxidation at the conductor/connector interface. These compounds do not harm the conductor metal, insulation, or equipment when used following the manufacturer’s installation instructions. In truth, many meter enclosures appear with some paste already in the lug. Again, it can get used with copper or aluminum conductors. Just don’t forget. They make the paste for use with specific conductor types.
Code clearly dictates that if you use it, it has to be the correct type for the correct conductor material. In other terms, you don’t use a kind made for aluminum conductors on copper conductors. Reference the product label located on the unit container for precise instructions as to the proper use of the compound.
Code for Aluminum Wire Paste
Rule 12-118(1) states that adequate precaution shall be given to the termination and splicing of aluminum conductors, including the removal of insulation, the cleaning of the bared conductor, the compatibility and installation of fittings.
Aluminum conductors are more malleable than copper, and care is needed to not cut or nick during termination. Nicks or cuts at terminations result in a vulnerable spot that may end in breakage of the conductor or a hot spot.
Rule 12-118(2) requires that a joint compound get used with stranded aluminum conductor connections, but does not need it for solid aluminum conductors. Even though not required by code, bare ends of solid aluminum conductors should get coated with the approved joint compound. Note: The compound is conductive and should get used sparingly. Any excess compound should get removed.
How to Apply Antioxidant Paste to Aluminum Wire
Many people install this stuff incorrectly on the conductor. Manufacturer instructions must get followed when connecting almost everything in the electrical trade because most codes and standards require it. The guidelines for many of these compounds can get found on the container. In previous years, there were no codes to follow for the use of antioxidant paste. It was up to the electrician and inspector’s discretion. Now, where a compound is employed, it must be used correctly. Any materials used must adhere to manufacturer instructions and specs.
1) Use a wire brush or cloth to clean the conductor
2) apply antioxidant paste freely to both the connector and conductor
3) connect the joint and remove the excess compound
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