Knob and Tube Wiring Replacement

Solutions for Massachusetts and New Hampshire

You need an experienced electrician to assess the risks of your knob-and-tube wiring, and the expert electricians at Kuhlman Electric are ready to help you!

Fill out a contact form, and let’s get this done!

Kuhlman Electric Specializes in Knob-and-Tube Wiring Replacements! In fact … Jesse Kuhlman wrote the book on it!

With locations across both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, we can come by quickly to assess your home and provide you with a free estimate.

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Does My Home Have Knob and Tube Wiring?

It’s easy to find out if you have knob-and-tube wiring in your home. Go to your attic or basement and look at the joists. If you see white ceramic tubes or porcelain knobs nailed to the joists with electrical wiring running through them, you have knob and tube wiring!

Kuhlman Electric YouTube Channel: 5 Issues With K&T Wiring

Check out the Kuhlman Electric YouTube Channel below to watch our video on the Top 5 Issues with Knob & Tube Wiring.

What is Knob and Tube Wiring?

Knob and tube is an outdated wiring system found in older homes built between the 1880s and the 1930s. Because there is no ground wire, it cannot be used with modern, three-pronged power supply cables. Knob-and-tube can be a safety hazard due to its age and proximity to insulation; however, it isn’t dangerous by itself, just antiquated.

Some jurisdictions will require that knob and tube wires be replaced in buildings where it is possible to do so. Homeowners may just need to have it regularly inspected for their safety.

What Are the Problems With Knob and Tube Wiring?

While knob and tube wiring doesn’t always need to be replaced, there are a few factors that make it potentially more dangerous than modern wiring methods. Below, you’ll find some of the main reasons why you may want to consider contacting electricians like those at Kuhlman Electric to inspect or replace your K&T wiring.

K&T Wiring is Not Grounded

A knob and tube electrical system doesn’t incorporate a ground. Ground wires give excess electricity a place to go, making your wiring system safer in the event of a power surge or other electrical problem.. Ground wires absorb electrical surges, which prevents electrical shocks and fires. 

Additionally, many modern electrical appliances require a ground wire to function. If your home has knob and tube electrical wiring, your outlets will only have two prongs and no ground wire. 

To use modern appliances, your knob-and-tube wiring needs to be replaced.

Insurance Companies May Not Insure It

Because knob and tube increases your risk of fires, it can be difficult to find a homeowner’s insurance company that will accept you. You may either be unable to find a policy or be charged much higher premiums by an insurance company because of your wiring. 

Areas With It Cannot Be Insulated

Insulation companies cannot insulate homes with knob and tube wiring. This wiring is run between joists with air space to dissipate heat. Whether insulation is blown in or standard pink that surrounds the old wiring, it can overheat and create a potential fire hazard.

Most insulation companies will require a licensed electrician to inspect all wiring to confirm that there isn’t any concealed knob-and-tube. If K&T is found, it must be rewired to the modern standards set forth in the 2020 National Electrical Code (NEC).

Knob and Tube Wiring Insulation Becomes Brittle

This type of wiring was not meant to last more than 100 years. Homeowners will sometimes replace their 15- or 20-amp fuse with a more modern 30-amp fuse because they don’t have enough power. This can cause the wire insulation to overheat since the wiring was not designed to carry such a high current.

When overheated, insulation becomes very brittle and breaks down. Whether homeowners replace their electrical box or install bulbs with higher wattages than the wiring can handle, the antiquated wiring system will begin to disintegrate and increase your risk of fire. 

May Have Asbestos Insulation

While we know today that asbestos is dangerous, it was a very popular insulation method in the late 1800s and early 1900s thanks to its fire-resistant properties. While some knob and tube is insulated with rubber, other homeowners may discover that their copper wiring is actually coated in asbestos-treated cotton. 

As the electrical wires break down with age, you could potentially be exposing yourself to the harmful effects of asbestos.

While we know today that asbestos is dangerous, it was a very popular insulation method in the late 1800s and early 1900s thanks to its fire-resistant properties. While some knob and tube is insulated with rubber, other homeowners may discover that their copper wiring is actually coated in asbestos-treated cotton. 

As the electrical wires break down with age, you could potentially be exposing yourself to the harmful effects of asbestos.

K&T Wiring Insulation Tastes Great (If You’re a Rodent)

Squirrels, mice, and other critters seem to love the insulation on knob and tube wiring. K&T wiring has thin paper or rubber insulation, making it more susceptible to chewing. These pests can leave bare wires exposed and increase the risk of fire or electrocution.

Contact Kuhlman Electric For A Free In-Home Estimate

A Homeowner’s Guide to Knob and Tube Wiring Replacement

Author: Jesse Kuhlman, Owner of Kuhlman Electrical Services

Now available for digital download. This e-book is made for those who want to upgrade the old electrical system of their home or want to know more about knob and tube replacement.

SPECIAL PRICE!

Click here to purchase on Amazon.com

Knob and Tube

Check out our Knob and Tube Guide on Amazon!

A Homeowner’s Guide to Knob and Tube Wiring Replacement

Author: Jesse Kuhlman, Owner of Kuhlman Electric

Now available for digital download. This e-book is made for those who want to upgrade the old electrical system of their home or want to know more about knob and tube replacement.

SPECIAL PRICE!

Click here to purchase on Amazon.com

FAQs About Knob and Tube Wiring

What does knob and tube wiring replacement cost?

The cost of replacing knob and tube wiring varies greatly depending on factors like the size of the home, accessibility of the wiring, and regional labor rates. Typically, homeowners can expect costs ranging from a few thousand dollars for smaller projects to significantly higher amounts for larger homes or more complex installations. Contact Kuhlman Electrical Services today at (855) 948-5143 to receive a free estimate of the cost to replace your knob and tube wiring.

Knob and tube wiring is not necessarily dangerous, but it is less safe compared to modern wiring systems. Its age, lack of a ground wire, and incompatibility with newer light fixtures and appliances pose a higher risk of electrocution and electrical fires.

Obtaining a mortgage on a house with knob and tube wiring can be challenging. Some lenders and insurance companies view this older wiring method as a risk due to its age and lack of a grounding system. However, this does not make it impossible; working with a knowledgeable real estate agent or lender who understands this type of wiring can help you obtain a mortgage.

Technically, it is challenging to have properly grounded outlets with knob and tube wiring because this system does not include a ground wire. Any modifications to include grounding should be done by a licensed electrician to ensure safety and compliance with local electrical codes.

Installing central air conditioning in a house with knob and tube wiring is possible but may require significant electrical upgrades. The power demands of modern air conditioning systems often exceed what old knob and tube systems can safely handle.

Using a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) breaker can enhance the safety of knob and tube wiring by reducing the risk of electrical shock. However, it does not address all of the inherent safety concerns, such as the lack of grounding and potential for overloaded circuits.

Knob and tube wiring, typically installed in homes before the 1950s, was designed for much lower electrical loads than what modern households use. It generally handles less power compared to modern wiring systems and can be easily overloaded by today’s electrical demands.

Romex, a modern wiring type, is generally considered safer and more efficient than knob and tube wiring. It includes a ground wire, better insulation, and is designed to handle higher electrical loads, making it more suitable for contemporary electrical needs.

Traditional knob and tube wiring typically features white and black insulated wires. The black wire is hot, and the white wire is neutral. However, the color can fade over time, and caution should be exercised as color coding was not as standardized when this wiring was installed.

In Massachusetts, concealed knob and tube wiring should not be used in certain areas like bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and other locations where moisture or high heat are present, as per the National Electrical Code and local amendments.

Similarly, in New Hampshire, concealed knob and tube wiring is typically restricted in places with potential moisture exposure, high heat, or where insulation may cover the wiring, aligning with the National Electrical Code and state-specific regulations.

This will depend on the area that you live in, but in most jurisdictions, knob and tube wiring is not up to code. In order to have your home properly insured or to have insulation installed, it is likely that you will have to have your wiring replaced to meet the standards of the NEC.

Not necessarily, no. Many people have lived safely in homes with knob and tube wiring. However, as these systems get older, they can increase the fire risk in your home. Their age and inability to support modern appliances can make the wiring brittle and overheated, which can cause them to spark and ignite the insulation within your walls, potentially causing a fire.

It is highly recommended that you replace knob and tube wiring. While it is still legal to have K&T in your home in certain locations, replacing it with newer electrical systems can protect you from fires and allow you to use more modern electrical devices in your home.

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