January 3

Should You Buy A House With Knob And Tube Wiring?


Knob and tube wiring was used prior to 1950 long before anybody ever heard of air conditioning, an iPhone or WiFi.  By today's standards, it's considered obsolete but that doesn't mean it can't be a safe if properly maintained.  

Let's talk about what you should know about Knob and Tube (K&T) wiring and how it affects the Real Estate transaction.    

What Is Knob And Tube?

The name pretty much says it all.  It's wiring encased in rubber and protected by porcelain or ceramic tubes.  The tubes are nailed to the walls or support structure to support the tubes.  It was known for being very straightforward and required far less skill than today's electrical systems.  

As televisions, computers, and air conditioning were integrated into our daily lives, it became difficult for these wires to safely sustain the increased load.  K&T is not necessarily dangerous but the system has been considered obsolete for decades and, in some cases, can pose a safety hazard.

What Problems Could Arise?

  • Insufficient Power Supply- K&T was never intended to withstand the load we require today and is easily overloaded.  
  • Damaged Or Poor Connections- When additions and alterations are made the splicing of wires wasn't always done properly.  The age of the system increases the likelihood that shoddy alterations were made at some point.
  • No Grounding- You know that third hole at the bottom of your outlet?  That's the ground wire that greatly reduces the risk of fire.  

Messy splicing:  A big reason why insurance companies don't like K&T.  

How Could It Affect Your Deal

Your biggest hurdle will be finding an insurance provider.  Despite the fact that knob and tube is recognized by the ESA as a safe and viable form of wiring most insurance companies will not renew or issue a new policy on homes with K&T.  The most likely scenario is that you will have to shop around to find a provider.  Some companies will refuse to issue a policy while some will require a 

In most cases, the insurance company will provide temporary coverage but you will be required to upgrade the wiring within a specified period of time. 

In any case, the presence and cost to replace knob and tube wiring should be reflected in the purchase price.  Depending on the market conditions you may be able to leverage the presence of K&T in negotiations.   

Protect Yourself

Insert clauses into your deal that allow for a home inspection at worst and an electrical system inspection from a Licensed Electrical Contractor at best.  Also, speak to your insurance provider prior to presenting an offer to make sure you are educated on what you'll need in order to get insurance.  

Apart from that, put an attractive offer together and negotiate your butt off!!  Good luck!

Simple and Easy.

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buying a home, k&T, knob and tube

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