When a friend decided to redo the drywall and plaster of his home, he had no idea that he would find out-dated electrical work. He asked us for some help and we quickly came over to check things out. What our friend showed us was pretty interesting! Somehow the knob and tube wiring had a cool retro look to it, what with its ceramic casings and all, and if it were still in use today it would be known as a throwback to the late 1800s and early 1900s. We would call it obsolete, however, since it is really no longer implemented by any electricians that we know. The knob and tubing appeared to be from the 1920’s. Although there are safety features that are inherent in this type of wiring system, the risks that your old knob and tube wiring pose are not worth the worry. Electricians know this.
If you have old knob and tube wiring, not only is there a risk that it is too far deteriorated, but there is also the risk that improper alterations were made over the years after the original installation. If insulation was placed over the knob and tube wiring, you even have a fire hazard on your hands. It would be best to mitigate such hazards by simply replacing it all. There are several dangers that a home-owner or landlord would be risking if he or she chose not to replace the old knob and tube wiring. The knob and tube wiring system wasn’t originally designed to have a ground conductor and the neutral wire was usually the preferred placement for switches, meaning that only the circuit (and not the current) could be turned off.
As much as we enjoy and recommend doing DIY work, we must say that hiring a professional electrician for knob and tube wiring replacement would be a much safer choice. He or she can evaluate the situation from an informed and well-experienced position, and replace the knob and tube wiring without the risk of placing yourself at the brunt of a small explosion! Also, he or she will know the different options available to you, and can choose the one that is more efficient. This is important because one method of replacing knob and tube wiring is by breaking ceilings and walls so that the wires can be run the fastest and shortest route. Tear down jobs may also be necessary to reach higher floors. In considering an electrician familiar with this kind of work, make sure any quote given includes the cost of parts. Such an estimate will consider the price of insulation, along with wall and ceiling replacements.
One last thing to consider, is that if the knob and tube wiring has never been updated, it may be a sign that your home or building may have other problems lurking. Get it checked for untreated asbestos insulation! You may also want to have a plumber examine the water pipes – there may be some burst or frozen lead ones. Not only will you want a house with good lighting, you’ll also want it to be safe. Talk to professionals to check your options.