Remodeling a Home With Knob-and-Tube Wiring? What Should You Know?

Historic homes can offer a number of unique and aesthetically pleasing options simply not found in more modern homes—from wood trim around your doorways and staircases to built-in bookcases, pantries, and even secret passageways.

However, homes built before the 1930s or so can also boast some outdated components. From knob-and-tube wiring to lead-lined water pipes, outdated technology can limit your ability to upgrade or even replace certain appliances if not updated.

Fortunately, upgrading your home’s wiring doesn’t need to be a complicated or cost-prohibitive process. Read on to learn more about the intricacies of knob-and-tube (K&T) wiring and what you’ll need to consider when upgrading your historic home’s wiring system.


How Does K&T Wiring Differ From Modern Electrical Wiring?

Knob-and-tube wiring was common in homes from just after the Industrial Revolution until around the time of the Great Depression. During the earliest days of interior electricity, K&T wiring could electrify an entire home at a relatively low cost, making it incredibly popular.

However, having each electrical conductor separate from the others—and often separately insulated with cotton batting, asbestos, or other flammable or otherwise harmful materials—could be risky from both health and safety standpoints. 

Homes with K&T wiring may be more difficult to insure than homes with more modern or updated wiring systems, and you may find yourself paying a higher price for homeowner’s insurance for a home wired with K&T than you would for a home with more up-to-code wiring.

Having K&T wiring can also impact your home’s resale value, as many first-time homeowners may be turned off by the prospect of a five-figure project that will end with no appreciable difference in the appearance or resale value of the home.

On the other hand, modern wiring systems always include a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet, which can help prevent power surges and cut power to any overactive circuits to prevent an electrical fire.

This circuit interrupter is invaluable when it comes to fire prevention. You’ll still want to invest in a power strip or surge protector to protect computers, smart televisions, and other appliances from suffering damage during a lightning strike or thunderstorm, but with a GFCI outlet, you’ll usually be able to avoid extensive damage to your home’s wiring even if you fall victim to a lightning strike or other major event.

What Should You Consider When Replacing K&T Wiring?

If you’ve decided to replace your home’s K&T wiring with a modern wiring pattern that includes ground fault circuit interrupters, there are a few factors you’ll want to consider before embarking on this project. 

How Much of Your Home Is Composed of K&T Wiring?

Often, homes that were constructed before the advent of electricity may have several separate wiring systems, as each separate wing of the home was brought “on line” after electricity was first introduced. Knowing exactly how much of your home’s wiring is knob-and-tube as compared with traditional will make your rewiring process much simpler and can save you from hours or even days of unnecessary work.

What Are Your Plans for Your Home?

If you’re just hoping to get your home up to code and able to handle a middle-of-the-line microwave or other small appliance without blowing a fuse, your electrical needs are likely to be much different than if you’re hoping to install a hot tub, koi pond, sauna, or other electricity-hogging appliance or home feature.

The extent of your future plans for your home may dictate the scope of your wiring project, helping you avoid unnecessary work while still ensuring your home’s wiring is up to code and safe.

For more information or for help evaluating and upgrading your home’s wiring, contact Chadwick Electric Services.  We also offer lighting repairs, installation and help with transitioning to LED lights.

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