Knob and tube wiring was commonly installed in homes built before 1950. While antiquated, this type of electrical wiring still lurks unseen in attics, walls, and ceilings across North America, threatening fire and electrocution. As a homeowner, I must educate myself on the risks of knob and tube wiring and options for upgrading to modern wiring.

What is Knob and Tube Wiring?

Knob and tube wiring consists of individual rubber or cloth-wrapped wires mounted on ceramic knobs and routed through porcelain tubes. Unlike modern wiring with a ground wire, knob and tube wiring has only a hot and neutral wire.

The insulation on old knob and tube wires often deteriorates over time, exposing bare copper wires. This can allow wires to arc, overheat, and ignite flammable materials in walls. Knob and tube circuits lack safety devices like circuit breakers, increasing fire risk.

Dangers and Risks of Knob and Tube Wiring

Knob and tube wiring poses the following risks:

Fires blamed on faulty electrical wiring cause an estimated 51,000 home fires per year, resulting in 500 deaths and over $1.3 billion in property damage, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

Warning Signs of Knob and Tube Wiring

Watch for the following signs that may indicate the presence of old knob and tube wiring:

If I suspect my home has knob and tube wiring, I should contact a qualified electrician to inspect and evaluate my electrical system.

Options for Replacing Knob and Tube Wiring

Here are my options for replacing knob and tube wiring:

Though expensive, I should strongly consider fully rewiring my home to eliminate fire and shock risks. My family's safety is well worth the investment. I can also check with my utility company for potential rebates to help offset rewiring costs.

Protecting My Family from Knob and Tube Wiring Hazards

Until I can rewire my home, I'll take precautions like:

Replacing obsolete knob and tube wiring should be a top priority for homeowners seeking safety, peace of mind, and full use of their electrical system. With education and proper upgrades, we can protect our families from tragedies related to outdated wiring.