Slide 51 Aluminum Wire: Special Concern - shell and inhibitor ignite/burn readily

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This article discusses special problems with the combustibility of antioxidant and plastic used in the Ideal 65 Twist-on purple "twister" connector if used for splicing aluminum to copper wires.

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Description of Aluminum Wiring Twist-on Connector Failures: combustible connector shell & combustible antioxidants

This is Aluminum Wiring Repair Procedure - Page 13 Color photos and descriptive captions from CPSC Meeting 9/28/95. In this document aluminum wire twist-on connector failures and repair procedures are described, including aluminum wire repair methods which work and methods which do not work and are unsafe. Color photos of aluminum wire repair procedures, and photos of failed connectors are included.

This document series describes hazards with existing aluminum wiring repair products, explains the aluminum wiring failure mechanism, and reviews recommended retrofit procedures including use of readily-available materials. This information was presented to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission by Dr. J. Aronstein, 9/28/95. The minutes of that meeting were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and posted by Daniel Friedman January 1996.

Slide 50 50. Installed per the manufacturer's instructions, many in retrofit installations, hazardous failures will occur in considerable numbers over the years. The free-burning connector shell is then a cause for concern. A substantial fire can grow from ignition of a connector shell, as shown in this demonstration.

Slide 51 51. The only materials here are those intended to be in the box: the wires, a connector, and the end of the cable sheath. A failing aluminum twist-on splice can ignite its own shell. In this demonstration the connector shell was ignited by a match. A burning glob of plastic drips to the floor of the metal box,

Slide 52 52. The flame does not extinguish. Interaction between the shell and the dripped plastic keeps it going. In an actual installation the side and front of the box would be enclosed, but there are generally enough openings and gaps to provide sufficient air for combustion.

Slide 53 53. The temperature of the wire insulation has increased to the point where it too will burn, and the fire grows.

Slide 54 54. At this point the connector is completely burned out but the fire continues on the wire insulation and cable jacket end. In the wall of an actual home, the fire may spread or not, depending on details. Clearly, however, the inside of the electrical box is no place for free-burning material.
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Slide 55 55. The Ideal #65 connector has more free burning material than the connector shown in the previous demonstration, because it is filled with highly-combustible inhibitor. Now, imagine an outlet box with two or three of them. That is quite a fire lighter.


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