Aluminum circuit wiring can overheat and damage electrical plugs such as this one.
Aluminum House Wiring
Reader Response: Glass and pottery pioneers
Recent Q&As: Avoid the element grooves when coating a lid
ALUMINUM HOUSE WIRING
By Fred Paget
Aluminum is a lot cheaper than copper, but it is not as good a conductor as copper. Bare aluminum in air immediately forms an oxide film that is an electrical insulator. This occurs so quickly that even if you scrape off the oxide, it reforms rapidly. Thus you have a poor connection that heats up and gets worse with time.
To make a good aluminum wire connection, you have to use patented terminals that have a goopy substance inside that keeps the air out. The terminals have to be put on with expensive tools that crush the surface of the aluminum to break up the oxide film. The goop keeps it from reforming. Those tools cost hundreds of dollars, and the terminals are costly, too.
A good many years ago they tried wiring houses with aluminum, and a fair number of house fires resulted. Nowadays utilities use it, but they have the know-how and the tools to do it right.
Q. I had a house that had copper wires throughout--except for the aluminum feeder wires (the wires that go from the meter to the main breaker panel in the house). What do you think of aluminum feeder wires?
A. The feeder would be fine as long as it was put in by an electrician who was trained and had the right tools and terminals. That is what the public utility put in my house. Trouble occurs when aluminum wire is used in the walls and terminated under brass screws on switches, receptacles, or other fixtures.
Fred Paget of Mill Valley, California worked as an electrician in a shipyard during World War II. Later he transferred to a Victory Ship as a chief electrician and was part of the battle for Okinawa. He graduated as an electrical engineer from Sanford in 1952 and spent his career designing industrial lighting and power supplies. He once worked on the Princeton Experiment Package on the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory.
In last week’s Kiln Pointer, I mentioned some of the late pioneers in ceramics and glass. David Kittrell of Kittrell/Riffkind Art Glass in Dallas, Texas wrote, “Boyce Lundstrom and Dan Fenton are members of that group of ‘vitreous adventurers’ who looked at glass, and looked at kilns, and said, ‘Why not?’ We followed their trails, and now we are challenged to follow their spirits of exploration to take our chosen media to new levels.”
Q. In the Q&A section of [last week’s] Kiln Pointer, someone mentioned coating the lid of the kiln. What does one use? Do you have any tips for avoiding the element coils of a glass kiln lid?
A. I recommend Paragon's Liquid Kiln Coating. Shake the container. Pour some of the coating into a bowl. Stir the coating just before you apply it to the firebricks.
Apply the coating with a large, soft sponge. First moisten the sponge with water; then squeeze out the excess water. Dip the sponge into the bowl of kiln coating. Wipe the coating over the lid surface. The coating should be thin enough so that you can still see the brick seams underneath. If the coating is too thick, it will flake off later.
Do not let excess coating run into the element grooves. Apply a light coat to prevent this. If the coating drips along the edges of the grooves, remove by wiping a cotton swab or rag along the groove.
"It matters only that you manifest your genius; it doesn’t matter when. It’s never too late or too early." -- Mark Victor Hansen
Last week we gave my sister Emma a surprise birthday party. A friend in Japan named Keiko sent her a beautiful calligraphy of Emma’s name. Keiko placed an extra copy of the calligraphy at a temple on Mt. Fuji, with wishes for good luck.
Some of the most precious gifts are hand made, whether Japanese calligraphy, a stoneware mug, enameled earrings, or a dichroic glass pendant. They are treasured far beyond their material value.
With best wishes,
Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. – Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd., Mesquite, Texas 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 / firstname.lastname@example.org / www.paragonweb.com / www.facebook.com/paragonkilns
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