Knob and Tube Wiring and Old Houses PDF Print E-mail

Planning to buy an old house? Old houses can be a great source of pride but there are plenty of things you might want to consider before buying, or living, in one. One is the wiring. Most, if not all, old houses have electrical wiring systems suited for the decades they were built in. Clearly, this poses a problem for you since modern lifestyle requires a much higher load of electricity than what old wiring systems can handle. The oldest wiring system you are most likely to encounter is the ‘knob and tube wiring’. Knob and tube wiring, or K&T Wiring, is commonly found in homes built from around the late 1800s to the 1940s. Knob and tube wiring was originally designed to handle small amps of electricity, and although it’s already considered obsolete today, you might find K&T wiring still in place if you’re planning to buy an old house.

In some ways, knob and tube writing is safer than modern wiring methods as long as it’s carefully installed and maintained. Among other things, knob and tube wiring is designed to freely dissipate heat to the surroundings. Open airspace is considered highly important. Hence, the wires are widely separated from each other by 4 to 6 inches, and this allows the heat to readily dissipate into the air. Clearly, insulation disrupts this process and causes the heat to build up. With that said, knob and tube writing is often seen as a safety hazard as it can cause fires. Knob and tube wiring is not inherently dangerous, but it tends to deteriorate over time. Moreover, past owners might have added some modifications to the system that make it dangerous. Although some insurance companies make exceptions for houses with inactive K&T wiring systems, most insurance companies refuse outright to underwrite homes with active systems. For most interested buyers or sellers, replacing knob and tube wiring is the only way to go. So before you buy that old house you had set your eyes on, have it inspected first by a qualified electrician. If there’s an active knob and tube wiring system, have it removed only by trusted technicians.

 



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