How to Safely Rewire Your Home Using Obsolete Knob and Tube Wiring

Understanding Knob and Tube Wiring

Knob and tube wiring was commonly installed in homes built before 1950. This type of wiring consists of individual wires that are run through the wall cavities. The wires are supported by ceramic knobs and tubes between joists and studs.

While knob and tube wiring was suitable for the electrical loads when it was installed, it can be dangerous by today's standards for the following reasons:

Should I Rewire?

Given the safety hazards, I recommend completely replacing knob and tube wiring whenever possible. Here are reasons why rewiring is the best option:

While I don't recommend it, you can opt to just replace the knob and tube with modern wiring in the specific locations where you need more capacity. However, the above benefits make full rewiring the best long-term choice.

Dangers of Partial Rewiring

It may be tempting to only rewire the sections of knob and tube circuits that you are using. However, this approach has serious risks:

I strongly advise against partial knob and tube rewiring given the unpredictability of old wiring and the inherent safety issues involved. The proper solution is to fully rewire your home.

Safety Precautions When Rewiring

Rewiring knob and tube circuits is a dangerous endeavor for the amateur. Make sure to take these precautions:

Proceeding carefully and with professional help is crucial when rewiring obsolete knob and tube wiring. Never take risks with electrical safety in your home. Follow all precautions.

Finding the Right Electrician

Attempting to rewire knob and tube circuits without proper training is extremely dangerous and is not worth the risk. Be sure to hire a professional electrician to complete the rewiring safely.

When hiring an electrician, look for the following:

Avoid any electricians who cut corners or make the project sound simpler than it is. Rewiring knob and tube is difficult work that requires expertise. With the right electrician, you can finally make your electrical system safe.

Cost and Timeline

Here is a realistic overview of the cost and timeline to expect for a full knob and tube rewiring project:

While not cheap, a full rewiring is a smart investment that drastically improves your home's safety and value. Get multiple quotes to find the best rate for your specific situation.

Alternatives to Rewiring

While a full rewire is my recommended solution, here are a couple alternatives to consider:

Overall, these alternatives improve safety to some degree but leave much of the obsolete wiring in place. I believe complete rewiring is the best and safest choice for most homes and budgets.

In Summary

Rewiring knob and tube wiring is the only way to bring a vintage home fully up to modern safety standards. While expensive, addressing fire and shock risks makes it a wise investment. Take all precautions, do thorough research, and hire a professional electrician to complete the work safely. The result will be a home electrical system that meets today's needs and provides protection for many years to come.