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The Truth About Knob and Tube - Is It In YOUR Home?

Call for a free estimate - (509) 656-4211


The beautiful, old homes that decorate our area evoke feelings of nostalgia for a different time. We love them for their character, their stories, their mysteries, and the hope that we can leave a similar kind of legacy.


But we don't love their knob and tube electrical systems.......


Knob and tube wiring was a common electrical system in homes from the late 1800s through the 1930s. It consists of ceramic knobs that support wires and tubes (usually made of porcelain) that protect the wires as they pass through wood framing. At the time of its inception, it was revolutionary, providing a safer alternative to the exposed wires used earlier. However, its design and materials are outdated by modern standards.




How Knob and Tube Wiring Works


In this system, electrical wires, typically insulated in rubber, are run through these ceramic knobs and tubes. The ceramic knobs serve to hold the wires away from any combustible material, preventing overheating and potential fires. The tubes, placed through drilled holes in beams or studs, act as protective channels, reducing wear on the wires where they pass through wood.


Risks Associated with Knob and Tube Wiring


Despite its initial safety advancements, knob and tube wiring poses several risks:


  1. Safety Concerns: Over time, the rubber insulation on these wires can degrade, becoming brittle and prone to cracking. This exposes the wires, increasing the risk of electrical shorts, arcing, and potentially causing fires.

  2. Limited Capacity: Knob and tube wiring wasn't designed for today's electrical demands. It may not handle modern appliances and electronics, leading to overloading and potential hazards.

  3. No Ground Wire: Another critical issue is the absence of a grounding conductor, a standard safety feature in modern wiring. This absence increases the risk of electrical shock in the event of a fault.


Why Replacement is Necessary


Given these risks, it's advisable to replace knob and tube wiring:

  1. Safety Upgrade: Upgrading to modern electrical systems, like Romex wiring, significantly enhances safety standards. Modern wiring has improved insulation, better capacity to handle electrical loads, and includes safety features like grounding conductors.

  2. Support for Modern Demands: With the ever-increasing demand for electricity due to more appliances and electronics in households, modern wiring can easily support these needs without compromising safety.

  3. Insurance and Resale Value: Many insurance companies are wary of insuring homes with knob and tube wiring due to the associated risks. Additionally, homes with outdated electrical systems may have reduced resale value or face challenges during a sale.


Benefits of an Updated Electrical System


Upgrading to a modern electrical system brings several advantages:


  1. Enhanced Safety: Modern wiring adheres to stringent safety standards, reducing the risk of electrical fires, shocks, and other hazards.

  2. Increased Capacity: Updated systems can handle higher electrical loads, accommodating modern appliances and electronics without overloading.

  3. Improved Efficiency: Newer systems often incorporate energy-efficient features, helping reduce utility bills over time.

  4. Insurance and Resale: Upgrading your electrical system can make your home more insurable and appealing to potential buyers, thereby increasing its market value.


While knob and tube wiring was innovative for its time, it poses significant risks in today's context. Upgrading to a modern electrical system not only ensures safety but also improves the overall functionality and value of your home. Considering the potential hazards and the benefits of an updated system, replacing knob and tube wiring becomes a prudent and essential investment in a home's safety and efficiency.


Call for a free estimate!

(509) 656-4211

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