Replace that Old Knob and Tube Wiring: You’ll Be Glad You Did!

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.

Making Plans for DIY Home Improvement

Getting into the neck of DIY Home Improvement work can be done spontaneously, but you just might have regrets later on. The best thing to do before investing any considerable amount of time or money into a project is to create a plan. Get your favorite writing utensils (and accessories, such as a sharpener and an eraser), writing pads (graph paper and sketch versions), drawing boards (white or chalk), and a clipboard, because these are what make up the nails and hammer of good planning! It is necessary that you have a calculator, a compass, and a ruler, to make precise measurements and drawings. Don’t forget to have on hand some masking tape and a framing square, as those come in handy. A binder and dividers will also go a long way to keep things organized and together. Last but not least, you need your thinking cap – you need to decide what it is you want and what it will take to get there.

Honestly, what it takes to get there is for the most part funds! Plans for DIY Home Improvement can be either specific or general, but either way a good plan must keep your budget in mind (and help you stick to it!). Many DIY Home Improvement projects fail in this regard. Don’t make your DIY project another casualty to poor planning. Make your estimates and mark them up by 10% just so that you’ll be prepared for any unforeseen contingencies.

Plus, sometimes our expectations don’t reflect the reality that we are after. Regardless, unexpected problems can pop up and mistakes do happen. If they don’t you’ll still have that extra money to maybe add a little adornment to your project that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.

In addition to funds and good estimates, timing is important as well. You have to take into consideration the environment of where your home improvement will take place. You probably don’t want to repaint the exterior walls on a rainy day or, if your project is located where it snows part of the year, to replace a roof during the winter. You also have to consider you or your family’s schedule. If you have small children, you have to make sure that they won’t walk into the middle of a hazardous construction zone. Probably the best time is during the summer, where there may be more extra hands available. It is a good idea to always have someone around to help; hopefully, no accident would (knock on wood!) occur, but it would be great to be prepared with someone who can handle a phone, an extinguisher, or simply their hands to help you up and out of what ever you’re dealing with. He or she could also help you go over any checklist of required tools and equipment to initiate your job.

Now if you know that you have the funds and the time to get the work done, recheck your incentives. Will it provides benefits now and in the long-run? There is the possibility of a “stylistic depreciation” that you should keep in mind, which means that certain home renovations are actually temporary fads that last about five years. Really think this over because you should want a good ROI and your own satisfaction with what you complete. Will you be changing the color spectrum of your home, rearranging a room, or installing new fixtures? Check out our page on ROI: Get the Best Return On Your Home-Improvement Investment for some things you should really consider in your planning.