Knob and Tube ?

Questions and answers relating to houses built in the 1800s and before.

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calclan
Posts: 201
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2006 8:46 pm
Location: Redlands Ca.

Knob and Tube ?

Post by calclan »

We still have some knt in the attic. To rewire do walls have to be ripped out or does it depend on the individual case? Our kitchen and baths all have the gfc plugs so some of the wiring is updated I think. The knt in the basement is just the ceramic knobs no more wires so something has been done somewhere. Just curious about how much wrecking has do be done if any. :roll:
Thanks
Paula

Schag
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Post by Schag »

Just curious about how much wrecking has do be done if any
That's the key statement right there.
From all the research that I've done on K&T, it seems to be just as good if not better than modern wiring.
As long as the covering is in good shape, why replace it?
What you need is a good electrition that knows this old stuff and is not just wanting to rip everything out willy-nilly.

Phx Matt
Posts: 349
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 11:18 am
Location: Phoenix, AZ

Post by Phx Matt »

GFCI doesn't mean anything in regards to it being on new wiring vs. K&T.

A GFCI monitors the amount of current flowing from hot to neutral. If there is any imbalance, it trips the circuit. It is able to sense a mismatch as small as 4 or 5 milliamps, and it can react as quickly as one-thirtieth of a second.

windstar
Posts: 88
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2006 12:03 am
Location: Pennsylvania

Post by windstar »

From all the research that I've done on K&T, it seems to be just as good if not better than modern wiring.
As long as the covering is in good shape, why replace it?
I agree with Schag......as a matter of fact we just re-wired the 2nd floor bathroom in our old farmhouse. The electrician said there is nothing wrong with old knob & tube wiring. The problems occur when the wire covering is worn...even more when worn wiring is covered with insulation or otherwise. Find somebody with some good knowledge and experience who doesn't have the "rip it all out" additude before he steps foot in your door.

Tony Gagliardi
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Location: Northeast Ohio

Post by Tony Gagliardi »

I disagree, the general rule of thumb should be to replace K&T. There was nothing wrong with K&T when it was brand new 100 years ago.

First, K&T circuits do not have a ground with them. Without writing a book here, there are some very good reasons that newer appliances, tools, etc. all come with a grounded plug.

Second, The insulation on K&T wiring may look good but is most likely deteriorated somewhere along the wiring. After all, it is just a cloth wrapping that has sat inside a hot wall for 100 years.

Third, the advent of ceiling mounted lights has made it dangerous. K&T was not manufactured to withstand the temperatures generated by newer ceiling light fixtures.

Fourth, K&T circuits were never designed to carry the large Amp draw that most of todays families need. Most K&T was never designed to carry the load of lights, tv, stereo, computer, refrigerator, stove, dryer, hair dryer, curling iron, etc. To make this worse, K&T outlets were few and far between in a house so most people just throw on an outlet extender or extension cord and load it up all around the house.

An overloaded circuit can cause fires.

Now, if a family with K&T can avoid all of the above scenarios then the odds of a problem are slim, but the odds are also slim that you can find many of todays families that can avoid all of the above scenario's.

And, no, I am not an electrician looking for work.
1915 Bungalow
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Jeanne
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Location: Erie, PA

Post by Jeanne »

Many good points, Tony.

Also, because of these risks, many insurance companies will not insure a house if it has K&T wiring. We had to replace our wiring before our insurer would cover it.

Crash
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Location: downeast NC

Post by Crash »

It's interesting, if not amazing, how issues are discussed to derive desired resolutions. Which is to say: If you like K&T, then there are many reasons you wouldn't remove it - many of them providing little evidence to support the validity of such reasoning.

So I understand that "Good looking wires" is an attribute of electrical systems, but I also understand that you can't see electricity. In this case, visual inspection doesn't amount to scientific evaluation. So while checking resistence wouldn't describe much, at least it would describe an attribute of electricity.

And while electricians can pontificate on the suitability of wiring technology, perhaps a fire marshal could also provide meaningful information.

Ultimately, a resolution may not be the desired one. Either way, without proper investigation, it won't be scientific either.

Just thought I'd bring that up. Personally, my house once caught fire due to a K&T problem, we did a lot of work to ensure that can't happen again. Since Paula's house had some of it's K&T removed, I'd investigate why the earlier work was done to see if it was just a "Tear it out" mentality, or a well-considered change to avoid K&T shortcomings. (oh how I do pause to smile at the "shortcoming" wordplay).

windstar
Posts: 88
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2006 12:03 am
Location: Pennsylvania

Post by windstar »

Many good points very well taken. :D

It is true most insurance companies will not insure a home with K&T any more. And in all honesty, my family's electical needs will most likely superceed what the K&T wiring in our farmhouse offers. And a quick visual is not a true electrical inspection. That is why I suggested a very professional and knowledgeable electrician.

So, I will sort of clarify my previous post.

We are indeed replacing the wiring in our old house (as in the bathroom as I mentioned). Most of the work we are doing on our own, but for the heavy duty stuff, we needed some advice. The first electrician was a "rip and tear" guy...with no mercy for the house's integrity or our pocketbooks. Out the door he went!! The second electrician is more experienced, and as a matter of fact (funny you said this Crash! :wink: ), a fire marshall! Does he suggest we re-wire??? You bet. But, you don't need to be destructive to do it. There's my agreement with Schag.
What you need is a good electrition that knows this old stuff and is not just wanting to rip everything out willy-nilly.

S Melissa
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knob and tube

Post by S Melissa »

A lot of our houses are balloon frame houses. If a balloon frame catches on fire, you are usually burned out. The fire flies up the walls to the roof, and burns back down through the middle. Totaled.

With all the work we do on the old houses - saving wavy glass, fidigiting with sticky doors, scraping off layers of lead based paint (what's my name again??), crawling around in bat infested attics routing out the little monsters et.al. - you can't cheap out on the electric especially. My house was totally rewired in 1978 - in 2003 when I redid my kitchen, my panel was already out of code - had to be replaced. I also had 15 amp wiring going to circuits that needed to carry at least 20 amp - things like microwaves, toasters, space heaters (to keep ice cicles from forming on your nose in the bathroom in january), and window air conditioners (to keep mold from forming on your nose in july) and TVs and woofers and tweeters, and computers etc. from blowing up or shorting out. You can recover from a flood (bad plumbing) from bad paint (what's my name?), bad carpentry (bent nails are too code), and sloping floors (whee!) but a fire - you may not live through. Get your electric updated.

They can pull wiring through sometimes, and a good electrician can (it'll cost you time) can fish things through without a ton of damage. But plaster is cheap in comparision. Get your electric updated. Put the knob and tube stuff out to the trash :arrow:
Melissa
Canton, MI
1860 Italianate - Reuben Huston Home
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stjomo
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Post by stjomo »

MELISSA......AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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