Older house wiring puzzle

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many insurance companies REFUSE to write NEW policies on homes with K&T wiring.
OK its time i flood this discussion with info
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In 1987, the National Electric Code prohibited the placement of insulation in contact with this type wiring. Later, a couple of west coast states permitted insulation provided the wiring was "certified" by a licensed electrician, foil or paper backed batt insulation was not used and warning signs were placed where the old wiring is concealed by the insulation.
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bob haller wrote:

make sure it's reliable info with links.
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NEC 394.12 2002 specifially prohibits insulating K&T in wall cavaties
geez its near a 100 years old, everything needs replaced eventually.
shingle roofs 25 years
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The only thing I have ever found wrong with K&T is that it is getting close to 100 years old . Not just the wiring but the insulators and the framing they are attached too and the fasteners they are attached with. Almost all problems I have seen with it are due to age. A lot of things happen in years. Wood shrinks, nails rust, insulators crack, all it takes is time for something to go wrong. If the argument is that there is still plenty of K&T that looks like the day it was installed I would agree but I would have to ask, "for how much longer".
The only code I know of that specifically addresses K&T is a local code that forbids the repair and modification of K&T wiring.This pretty much means if it breaks or you touch it rip it out. I first became aware of this when helping my then fiance to restore her Victorian farmhouse around 1982. Switch wiring mounted externally on a wall which we had taken down while making repairs to the wall could not be replaced. We were able to get around this by letting the K&T become a low voltage control circuit for her lights. Under this code the updating the breaker panel forced the removal of all of the K&T with the exception of the part we used for low voltage.
Jimmie
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wrote:

I'm likely going to raise the ire of some home inspectors on this group, but I've found them, on the whole, to be a pretty clueless bunch.Many "minor issues" identified are actually pretty expensive and serious shortcomings, while many "serious issues" are simple maintenance items that can be easily remedied at low cost. And many quite major issues are totally missed.

Actually, in many cases , done as part of a redecoration job to get a house ready to sell (improve curb appeal, make it "show well", the cost to totally rewire to current code is SURPRISINGLY affordable. Particularly if the house has both an accessible attic and a full basement. It's incredible how little plaster/drywall really needs atro be damaged/opened up to rewire an older home. The only thing not "to code" would be the spacing of "handy-straps" holding the cable to the studs. The extra wire needed to do it the "simple" way is much less expensive than the extra labour etc to do it the "hard" way.

Yup - but the FACT is, you still cannot buy NEW insurance on a home with K&T wiring in the vast majority of both the USA and Canada.
Renewals are still (generally) available - but no "new business"

In many cases you can leave K&T by code, but in those same cases you may STILL not be able to write new insurance policies on the home.
A friend's son bought a home less than 10 years ago that was advertized as fully rewired and re-plumbed.
When he went to sell 2 months ago, a home inspector found there was still K&T in use throughout most of the main part of the house, as well as a lot of galvanized water pipe and the cast iron sewer stack (which was rusted through and leaking in several spots)
When that was discovered, it had to be told to all prospective buyers - which severely limited the market, and the price he could expect to get for the house.
After getting some estimates they dropped the price something like $30,000 and it was snapped up almost immediately - the buyer knowing the wiring and plumbing could be brought up to current code, with all iron pipe and K&T wiring replaced, and redecorated for that amount, with money left over. (House listed for $285,000)

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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Bullshit. That's just not true in the US. Don't know about the french.
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On Mon, 28 Sep 2009 18:49:27 -0500, Steve Barker

Hey JERK. The French are Canadien - the rest of us are Canadian - and speek "'merican" just like most of you "yanks" and "rebs"
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

OK Asshole. I was just referring to the Canadians as french. duh.
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On Mon, 28 Sep 2009 22:03:19 -0500, Steve Barker

well, we aren't. Don't be an ignorant ass about it.
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bob haller wrote: >

The only K&T hazard in the post - as already stated, over fusing can be a problem for any wiring system. This is not a specific K&T hazard.
--
bud--

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bob haller wrote:

My "dreamland" is based on years of experience as an electrician. Much of it was doing service calls where I saw numerous K&T installations.
I believe Roy, another electrician, has also written K&T that has not been abused is not a problem.
halerb had a nightmare where he was attacked by knobs and was forced to hide in tubes.
To look at claims of K&T hazards:

Over fusing is a problem for any wiring method. One could argue that K&T is more immune in that wires are not in contact with each other until they reach a box.

I have seen no evidence of problems in attic wiring. I have salvaged wire out of attics that was in like-new shape.
Heat at ceiling lights can certainly rot out insulation. It rots out *all* insulation including plastic. I have seen rubber insulation on BX and plastic insulation on Romex crack off when the wires were moved. Light fixtures now have ratings for the temperature rating of the supply wiring. And Romex now has a higher temperature rating. What about the old 2 wire Romex? If anything K&T is safer because the wires are not in contact until they reach the box. It is not easy to fix BX where there are bare wires back to the connector.

"Critters" can be a problem for Romex.
None of these problems are unique K&T hazards.

As posted previously http://www.waptac.org/sp.asp?idq90 is a report to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs on adding building insulation around existing K&T wiring. The report looked at available information on hazards of insulation around K&T. The report found no record of hazard was found in the large number of K&T installations that had insulation added around them. Larry Seekon, whose comments are quoted, was head electrical inspector in Minneapolis.
There is no reason to believe "insulation on top of knob and tube wiring is a major fire hazard". This is home inspector FUD. Where is the supporting data.
--
bud--

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wrote:

It is NOT grounds for non-renewal - and insurance is NOT being cancelled because you have K&T, even here in Ontario. They ARE, however, refusing to write new business on houses with K&T - and no regulator can force them to write that new business.
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On Sep 16, 10:05�pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

the only non renewal I talked about is from friends who homeowners company got sold or went out of business. the new company inspected the home and was picky about hazards. both were required to replace all K&T wiring
one friends home needed a new roof, she didnt have the bucks to replace it. but had a mortage. so her lender gave her forced place insurance on structure ONLY. no coverage for possesions or living expenses. this was very bad.
they had a fire, the home was unlivable. officially homeless we had them move in here in our basement while their home was worked on. the damage was so bad, 130 grand lots of stuff had to be brought up to current code, being it was a gut rebuild. the cost was right about the value of the home.
I suggested they use the insurance money to pay the loan and sell off the derelict home, but they refused, and lived with us for 7 months and were out of the house 2 years largely because of insurance delays.
if your insurance company changes hands you can find out no one will insure you. this happened to at least 2 people i know.
some years ago severe coastal storms bankrupted some homeowners companies which started them being picky
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I thought them GRCI (pronounced "gerky") breakers only approved in GReat Britain?
--
Christopher A. Young
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On Sep 10, 11:05pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I was trying to sort out the K&T wiring in my grandfathers house. I followed a pair of wires through the attic thinking one was hot and the other neutral. Wrong, both were hot and went to overhead lighting. The switches were in the neutral side and these wires connected to a pipe buried in the ground along side the house. Apparently this was the neutral/ground buss. The current switches in the house were modern switches but from some old photos taken in the 40sI learned they used to be knife switches. Final solution was to just rip everything out and rewire.
Jimmie
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JIMMIE wrote:

The switching on the neutral side carried over into the romex days. I found that in my next to last house we bought. BUT they did have all the switch branches junctioned in boxes in the attic, so it wasn't a big deal to make it right.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

The only singe-wire runs you *should* have are ground wires added later to an existing ungrounded circuit. I would recommend leaving any sound K&T wiring going to the bedrooms and such alone. Original wiring that was done right and not messed with. The mess that you're talking about, I'd replace it all with new NM cable; abandon in place the stuff that's hidden in the walls and tear out what's exposed in the basement. DO NOT do that black-wire-only thing you are talking about.
Last time I checked (which was in 1995) K&T was an acceptable wiring method in the electrical code, but not for new work. You could still make repairs to old K&T and the NEC gave some details about it.
Maybe you could just cut those single wires and see what goes dead? :-) (Probably switched lights or split outlets.)
Best regards, Bob (not an electrician)
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On 9/11/2009 10:00 AM zxcvbob spake thus:

But I have to if I want to get rid of the K&T runs as the homeowner wants me to. Since I'll be replacing it with NM cable (which is what I proposed--*NOT* just running a single black wire, like the person before me who ran a single white wire several feet for a neutral conductor)--it'll be as safe or safer than what was there before.

I already did that, and I thought I posted that here. When I cut the single wire, all the lights in the front of the house--living room and front porch--went out. No outlets, just lights. So I know what's on that circuit. I just don't know exactly where neutral wire for that circuit comes out. But since it'll all be replaced by NM anyhow, doesn't really matter. I was hoping someone could comment authoritatively on that anomaly (the single-wire feeds), but I guess not.
--
Found--the gene that causes belief in genetic determinism

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To trace the mystery wire get one of those AC circuit tester pen gizmos. If I recall these will sniff out an active circuit under the plaster. So what you do is kill all circuits except the mystery one and trace the wire runs.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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