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Buying A House With Knob And Tube Wiring _TOP_


If you live in an older home (and there are many of them in St. Louis) it might have knob and tube wiring. Knob and tube (or K&T) was the standard method of electrical wiring when electricity was first used in homes in the 1880s. New innovations in cable and wire came along in the 1920s, but K&T was still common up until the 1950s when more modern methods took over.




buying a house with knob and tube wiring



Knob and Tube wiring used a series of porcelain knobs anchored to building materials behind walls and above ceilings. They held the electrical wires in place on their path throughout the house, keeping the hot and neutral wires separate for safety. Wherever the wires needed to pass through joists, a hollow, porcelain insulated tube was added. The wires, which were encased in rubberized cloth sheathing, could safely travel through the tubes without their heat harming the wooden joists or coming in contact with other wires.


Something to consider with a home that has knob and tube wiring is insurance. Some insurance companies may balk at covering a home with what is considered an outdated, and possibly unsafe system. Other companies may not rule it out, but might require an inspection or charge a higher premium or deductibles for a house with K&T.


In general, knob and tube wiring should be updated. Even if it is in good shape, it is obsolete and will only get worse as time passes. It will cost about $8000 to rewire a 1,500 square foot home. The question then becomes, does a seller need to spend the money to replace the wiring in order for the house to sell?


The agents at Berkshire Hathaway HomeSellers Select Properties have seen all types of homes in the St. Louis region. They can offer their expertise about whether your home will sell with its knob and tube wiring, or if it needs your immediate attention.


Homes in the U.S. built from around 1880 to the 1950s often still have knob and tube electrical wiring. This is where electrical wires anchored by ceramic insulating knobs pass through ceramic tubes placed inside holes drilled into the wooden joists of the house.


Obtaining insurance for a home with knob and tube wiring comes with a specific set of requirements. You must hire an electrician and submit to your insurance agent a contract stating that the knob and tube wiring will be replaced within 60 days. Once the job is complete, a receipt indicating completion must be submitted.


The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that home appraisers should examine the electrical box to ensure there are no broken or frayed wires. Major selling guides (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & FHA) are ok with knob and tube wiring as long as it functions, is safe, in good condition, and is a minimum of 60 amps.


When you are buying a home with knob and tube wiring, there are a few issues to be aware of. For instance, insulation cannot touch the wires, as the heat from the wires cannot dissipate. Knob and tube wiring does not provide a third wire for grounding, only a hot wire, and a neutral white wire. Even if two-slot outlets are replaced with three-prong outlets (for devices that require them, such as kitchen appliances) there is still no third wire which protects against electric shock.


One of the most common issues with knob and tube wiring is incorrect modifications. Because it is easily accessible, some homeowners make their own repairs and do not splice the wire correctly and they make inadequate, unsafe modifications.


If the home you want to make an offer on has knob and tube wiring, have a licensed electrician inspect it thoroughly to determine the cost to bring it up to code. If the wiring is a hazard, you have a few options. You can buy it as is and deal with it when you own it. In doing that you can attempt to offer less in preparation for having to deal with the expense. But this will only work if you are not competing with other buyers. Your other option is to request that the seller remove it as part of your offer. As a seller, you can have it removed yourself to avoid any issues with potential buyers or you can leave it in place and sell as-is. Be aware, though, that buyers, agents, and home inspectors will likely notice it.


While you may sell a home with knob and tube wiring, the buyer may have issues with knob and tube, also known as k&t wiring. Are the concerns valid? Yes, it could be very dangerous. Can knob and tube wiring cause a fire? Yes, it can. Can you get homeowners insurance? Most likely, no. There are insurance companies that will give you 30-60 days to remove the k&t wiring, but they are getting harder to find. And if the buyer is getting a mortgage, they need homeowners insurance, and if no insurance, then no mortgage.


Most homes built before 1950, used porcelain knobs and tubes with electric wiring. The wires were run separately mounted on the wooden joist with knobs, with the hot wire on one side of a joist and the neutral on the opposite site of the joist. Other times the wires are run 10-12 inches apart in the same area. When the wires had to change directions or go through a floor joist, the tubes were inserted into a hole in the joist to keep the wire safe from touching the wood. The wire was coated with insulation which over time, is breaking down from the heat and stress from it hanging with the weight of the wire. The wiring is meant to be cooled by regular air in the home.


First off, there is no ground wire with the wiring. Secondly, homes built with the wiring, did not anticipate the amount of electricity that is used by today's common homes. Third, homeowners have added insulation that may contact wires and not let them cool down which could create a fire. The electrical outlets were not built with ground fault outlets which could create a safety hazard around wet areas like the kitchen and bathrooms. Because of these issues when buying an older home, homeowner insurance companies may ask if you are aware of knob and tube wiring. If there is an issue and you were aware of the wiring, the insurance company may not pay the claim.


The only solution for knob and tube wiring is to rewire the home. Costs could be anywhere from $4,000 on up to $15,000. Prices increase in many older homes because the homes were built with plaster walls that makes cutting a hole and repairing the walls harder to do increasing the price. There are some homeowners who have taken the easier route and only removed the visible knob and tube wiring such as in the basement. Therefore, it is critical to have a competent home inspector when buying an older home who can check the outlets to insure there is no active k & t wiring in the walls.


In early 2018, I purchased a house "as is". It was a house sold through an estate and it had been lived in by three generations of one family. Both the good and the bad news was that it had not been updated. My biggest concern was that it had knob and tube wiring. Everywhere. Knob and tube wiring made me nervous and my number one priority after the purchase was to replace all the K&T (short for Knob and Tube).


This is the wiring that always seems to be a big issue in many HGTV shows (Property Brothers, Love it or List it etc.). In these HGTV shows, they always seemed surprised to find knob and tube wiring, but I sure wasn't. The sellers, including the real estate agent, were very upfront about some of the issues of the house. And then there was the 64-page inspection report ...


I was in love with my dining room chandelier light. Many of my light fixtures were original, fit the style and age of the house and I loved them! The fixtures did need to be rewired but that was much cheaper than buying new ones.


One of the main reasons I was afraid of the knob and tube electrical system was because there were DIY's like the one below, which was behind the fridge. I'm assuming they were DIY projects! I'm sure an electrician wouldn't use a power bar to plug in electrical appliances. How safe were the installation of the newer modern wiring and any recent repairs. Seeing this concerned me that unsafe splices might be hidden from view. I did not know if there were any unsafe modifications behind the walls.


Did you know knob and tube wiring doesn't have a ground wire? So, all those appliances etc., are not grounded when they are plugged in. Just because you can plug in a plug with three prongs doesn't always mean that outlet is grounded - it just looks like it is. Seeing the three-prong outlets that weren't grounded made me not trust what was there. The technical term is there is an absence of an electrical grounding conductor.


There was some visible damage caused by rodents in my attic. The live, exposed wires were touching the flammable insulation. I would never have been able to sleep knowing my house had wiring that in certain areas was a fire hazard.


My home inspector told me my knob and tube were properly installed and most of it was safe. But, I needed to get a licensed electrician to do a thorough electrical inspection of all of it (some was in the ceiling and some in the walls!). In my mind it would be a partial inspection because they wouldn't be able to see everything.


If I had chosen to keep the existing knob and tube wiring, they all would have had to be changed to GFCI receptacles. Even with GFCI's, there still wouldn't have been a ground, but the individual outlet could trip.


Also, the wires were insulated with a rubber-coated cotton cloth tube in areas. This rubber could become brittle, fray or damaged purely from age! This covering is called loom. It's the black tube-type covering shown in this picture (closer to the switch).


I was surprised my homeowner's insurance company didn't have an issue with the wiring. I was told that although my home insurance didn't have an issue at that point, there was a potential insurance issue later.


But, back to the knob and tube. This is what they look like. The knob is on the left and then there are three protective porcelain tubes. At the bottom is the rubberized flexible cloth tube called a loom (that I mentioned above). 041b061a72


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