My new home has a mix of copper and aluminum wiring. My mother used a shop vac in one of the recepticles last week and blew two of them in my bedroom. Then this weekend my brother was replacing my exhaust fan in the bathroom and that proceeded to blow the entire bedroom and bathroom including ceiling fans, lights and all recepticles. Does anyone have any ideas?
Home Depot sells quality aluminium receptacles. Not doubting your father totally but an electrician needs to check the inside of the panel. A number of things can go and the breaker wont be effected. If the problem is not within the panel an electrician can trace the dead circuits and isolate the problems. Hopefully your new but old home does not have any concealed electrical boxes. Sometimes in older homes the previous owner may have added some electrical items and any Joe could have did it. Believe me I've seen a lot in my 15 years of practice.
Copper we all know, no problem. Alum wire is soft and will cut and scrape real easy and can not be soldered. Ni Crom is a high temp wire used in heating elements in Electric heaters. You can Weld them but more than likely it won't stay. Best is a mechanical fastener. Hard to come by. Where is this wire located...
You said new home. Aluminum hasn't been used in house wiring for many years. It is now only used for the main service wires coming in to the panel. Shop vacs can trip 15 amp bedroom circuits. I think you need to call in an electrician if your dad reset all the breakers. Have him do the exhaust fan too. Let your brother help mom with the cleaning. Forget about doing your own wiring or replacing things yourself. Hire an electrician. The firefighters will thank you.
Many older homes in Las Vegas had aluminum wires before they figured it out, the wire contracts and expands with the heat and, what does Las Vegas have, heat of course. Other places have the same thing. It was a War thing during WW2 for copper wire, use Aluminum instead but, now, it raising heck with the homes that have it. I've seen the entrance boxes where the wires come in and the wires are a good half inch away from the hold downs, when you come back in the morning when it's cool, they're tight. I would suggest an electrician and, get someone that's knowledgeable with the codes and, wiring in the area you live in and, the wiring.
It is very common in older homes to have tin coated copper wiring which many people then think they have aluminum wiring. If you have a piece of the older wiring or can turn the breaker off to one of these wires use a screw driver to scrape at the wire on the bare end; if it's tin coated copper you will see the orange/rust color of copper after a few light scrapes, the scaping is nothing agressive. This will determine if you have aluminum or not. Someone else mentioned about a loose connection which if a copper wire aluminum wire are connected together it would very likely fail creating a short. The two different materials expand contract at different rates which creates a bad connection. There is a special crimp process that can be done to join the two but a electrician should definately do this. A lot of the older homes just have two many items all on one breaker. With what you've described I would suggest using a electrician. Additional: If no breakers are tripped off and you do not have power in some areas you might have another panel (sub-panel) somewhere else in the home OR this circuit is hooked up to a GFI outlet somewhere else such as the kitchen, bathroom or garage. I would physically re-check each breaker and then hunt for a GFI outlet and sub-panel.