Many old homes have retained their charm through the years. In some cases, these old homes have been renovated with electrical retrofitting to prevent them from deteriorating. However, most old homes have problems and a fix will require a rather big investment. For example, knob and tube wiring is common in most old homes and can eventually cause significant problems for a new owner. While knob and tube wiring can be replaced with modern wiring system during the electrical retrofitting, the costs can be astronomical.
Is knob and tube wiring dangerous?
Some local electrical codes mandate the removal of knob and tube wiring; however, other areas only require the removal in accessible locations. New building constructions do not allow knob and tube wiring because it is incapable of handling the demands of modern appliances. Knob and tube wiring is evident through porcelain knobs used to anchor wires to studs and floor joists. The traditional wiring system is very easy to identify because of the separate hot and neutral wires that run parallel to each other. There is no ground wire making it significantly dangerous for appliances with the 3 prongs. Knob and tube wiring was dominant in many homes when the demand for electricity was minimal. Years ago, there were no computers, entertainment systems, dishwashers, microwaves and air conditioners. Nobody expected that after a few decades, the traditional wiring system will not be adequate to satisfy electrical demand.
In some old homes, knob and tube wiring has been retrofitted incorrectly to meet the extra demands of appliances. The danger to the knob and tube wiring system results from inappropriate modifications. The modifications can easily create fire hazards particularly if the home has blown-in insulation. Knob and tube wiring that is covered by insulation in the attic has to go; otherwise it can be very dangerous.
Replacing knob and tube wiring during an electrical retrofitting is best done when the house is being renovated. If you are uncomfortable with the idea that the safety of the home is being compromised by the knob and tube wiring, get quotes from competent electrical contractors who can install a new wiring system and conduct a proper electrical retrofitting. Replacement of the system during renovation will reduce your expenses because it will minimize the need to cut into the walls to uncover the wires.
Professional home inspection prior to a purchase will catch any problems that need to be rectified. You can get a repair or replacement estimate from an electrical contractor so that you can negotiate with the seller to cover part of the overall costs. The cost of replacing knob and tube wiring tend to vary but be diligent in ensuring that you are working with competent and qualified electrical contractors. You can get into real trouble if you allow an inexperienced handyman to retrofit your electrical system.
Buying an old home has its share of risks but if you have it professionally inspected you can avoid spending a fortune in repairs. Before buying a home, make sure to assess its condition and whether it can still be considered as a good investment.