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What Is Knob and Tube Wiring…and Why Does It Need to Be Removed?

Living in an older house can be great because older homes have lots of character and can be good investments. However, living in an older house can also mean that it has an older wiring system, such as a knob and tube system, which can have some downsides.

Being aware of knob and tube is important for safety reasons and because you may need to replace it sooner than you think. But first, let’s get some background on knob and tube wiring.

What Is Knob And Tube Wiring?

Knob and tube wiring is essentially an older form of electrical wiring. The name comes from the ceramic “knobs” and rubber “tubes” that encase the copper wiring.

Another characteristic of knob and tube wiring is that it is ungrounded. This means the electrical system will not blow a fuse or trip a breaker in the same manner as a grounded circuit would.

As a result, this wiring can be a fire hazard. In addition to being ungrounded, knob and tube wiring can pose other dangers described below.

Why Is It Dangerous?

There are a number of reasons why knob and tube wiring is dangerous. While the wiring in its initial state and time was not necessarily dangerous, the aged materials and today’s electricity needs can make the system hazardous for the following reasons:

  • Not grounded. As discussed, knob and tube wiring is not grounded and thus increases the chances you can overload your circuits and start a fire.
  • Corroded materials. The knobs — and especially tubes — that surround the wires can corrode over time (especially if they are 50-100 years old). These exposed wires can pose a hazard.
  • Energy needs. This type of wiring was sufficient for the energy needs of several decades past but is usually not sufficient for today’s energy needs, which can cause overheating.
  • Easy overheating. Due to today’s energy needs, corroded materials, and a lack of grounding, this type of wiring can easily overheat, posing even more of a fire hazard.

Knob and tube wiring can be dangerous, so it’s important to know the state of your wiring and plan to replace it for your general safety. However, there may be occasions when you will need to update your wiring right away for which you should be prepared.

When You Will Need to Replace it Immediately

Apart from general safety, some life events will require you to update your knob and tube wiring as soon as possible. While it may be a hassle, it’s good to be aware you may need to update your electrical system if you plan to make changes in any of the following areas:

  • Insurance. Many home insurance companies will not insure a home with knob and tube wiring. If you need a new or updated insurance policy for a house with this type of wiring, you may need to update it first. 
  • Smart home. If you want to make your home “smarter” (for example, getting an electric car charger), you’ll probably be putting more stress on your electrical system. Consequently, you’ll need to update your wiring.
  • Selling. Buyers may not be interested in a home with outdated wiring, especially if they can’t get home insurance. So, you may need to update before selling.
  • Insulating. Re-insulating a home may require changing this wiring because it is a fire/installation hazard without updates.

How to Update Your Wiring

Replacing knob and tube wiring without an electrician can be risky. So, it’s a good idea to get a professional on the job!

We at Castle Electric replace knob and tube wiring on a regular basis and would be happy to update your home, making it safer and more efficient. If you want to know if your home has knob and tube wiring, want to replace it, or simply have questions about the process, just contact us at Castle Electric for more information.

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