How to Safely Replace Old Knob and Tube Wiring

How to Safely Replace Old Knob and Tube Wiring


Replacing old knob and tube wiring can seem like a daunting task, but with proper planning and safety precautions, it can be done safely by a homeowner. Knob and tube wiring was an early method of electrical wiring used in homes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While it was safe when initially installed, it can become hazardous over time as insulation breaks down. Replacing it completely should be a top priority for homeowners with knob and tube wiring. In this article, I will provide a step-by-step guide on how to safely replace knob and tube wiring as a DIY project.

Dangers of Knob and Tube Wiring

Before beginning any work, it's important to understand the potential dangers of knob and tube wiring:

These risks demonstrate why replacement is so important. Never take shortcuts or delay when dealing with knob and tube wiring.

Getting Professional Guidance

While a DIY replacement is possible, it's wise to consult an electrician early in the process. An electrician can:

If the home still has the original electrical service panel, the electrician may recommend an upgrade to the entire electrical system.

Planning the New Wiring System

When planning the project, there are several factors to consider:

Take time to carefully design the new wiring system on paper before purchasing any materials.

Obtaining Necessary Permits

Most jurisdictions require permits for home electrical work. The general process is:

Having the permit ensures code compliance. The inspector will also need to perform a final inspection before signing off.

Staging the Project

With proper planning, the project can be executed systematically:

1. Purchase all required materials

This includes:

2. Reroute a single circuit

As a trial run, replace just one knob and tube circuit initially. This allows you to understand the full process start to finish.

3. Replace circuits incrementally

With the learnings from the first circuit, continue replacing the remaining knob and tube circuits one by one. Avoid trying to replace everything at once.

4. Remove old wiring at the end

Only remove original knob and tube wiring after each circuit has been replaced and tested. Attempting to remove too much at once can create safety issues.

Key Safety Measures

When dealing with live electrical wiring, safety should be the top focus:

By following proper safety protocols, you can upgrade from hazardous knob and tube wiring to a modern electrical system meeting current safety standards. Paying close attention to planning and safety will lead to success on this critical DIY project.