Plus he's one of the few posters here with the annoying habit of never
quoting previous replies (small point, but not in his favor).
I will say that I think exercising due caution when doing electrical
work is important. I cringe when I see the numerous news reports of
houses burning down, just wondering whether it was an electrical fire
that was responsible. I don't *ever* want to be the cause of such a fire.
But that doesn't mean one has to be a total Cassandra about it either ...
Found--the gene that causes belief in genetic determinism
On Fri, 11 Sep 2009 11:11:28 -0700, David Nebenzahl
My younger brother's old house (old crappy farm house) burned down due
to an electrical fault. The house had a LOT of K&T wiring - but it
wasn't K&T that caused the fire. The old "shack" had a sagging summer
kitchen - and the ROMEX wire going from the main house to the addition
had a "shear failure" due to movement between the 2 parts of the
building. The wires rubbed through the insulation enough to cause heat
without blowing the breaker/fuse. (Think it was the stove cable).
Anyway, it got him a new house.
It WAS from wiring, and the short where the wire was damaged was not a
good enough connection to draw enough power to trip the overcurrent
protection on the stove wire. 15 amps on a 220 circuit is3200 watts -
and that is a LOT of heat to be created in a small area. Definitely
enough to start a tinder-dry timber structure on fire. It takes 50
amps to blow the circuit protection on a range receptacle circuit.
That's over 12000 watts.of concentrated heat.
That's a fact jack. And covering it with insulation does nothing to it
either. Well, it might keep the mice and squirrels off it. LOL! As for
being a fire hazard, well a 14 ga wire on a 15a breaker is not going to
get hot, and it is almost always at least 10" away from it's partner
wire, so there's not much chance of a short, so I would go so far as to
say the K&T wiring methods in many ways are much safer than the
practices we use today.
I think the phrase "once you muck with this" is the key. It doesn't
matter whether you (in theory) do or do not make it any worse than it is
now. Once you touch it you may be held responsible for it.
Does local code/law require you to be a licensed electrician to do this
work? Does your liability insurance cover electrical work you perform?
Does the locale require permits? Will the owner's policy cover them if
non-permitted or non-inspected work results in damage?
I asked state farm my homeowners carrier about K&T the agent reported
we cant write new policies for it.
A few years ago A friends homeowners company wenty out of business, he
HAD to have his home rewired since no other company would insure K&T
He also had to have a railing installed on some outside steps, repair
some cracked cement walk areas, dispose of debris stored under his
homeowners insurance has changed dramatically in the last 10 years
I really dont care what anyone does to their home. but a contractor or
home handyman should be very careful. its probably impossible to prove
who did what when to the wiring the OP admits was hacked repaired.
so there could be another unknown fault he doesnt know about but might
end up in legal trouble over that he didnt even do.
if theres a fire the wiring will be looked at carefully, legal defense
even if OP wins can easily cost thousands.
you were warned
I think all the above are very good questions. I would be damn
careful what I did to patch up or improve old K&T wiring which is
already a mess. And I would be certain to know the code, pull any
required permits and get any required inspections.
Just because a customer wants something done on the cheap doesn't mean
as a professional you should do it. If someone gets electrocuted or
the house burns down, you could very well be sued. And for a
professional the courts generally take the view that YOU are the
expert and should not be doing something half assed or on the cheap
that isn't really the right thing to do just because a client wants
Also regarding the debate about insurance and K&T, a simple google for
"knob tube insurance" brings you lots of hits that say there most
certainly are issues of insurability with at least some insurance
On Fri, 11 Sep 2009 10:29:29 -0700, David Nebenzahl
EXCEPT it is not designed to handle the current requirements of
today's average home.
In a LOT of ways, it is actually SAFER (electrically) than current
wiring practices as the live and neutral are widely spaced.
Pretty hard to drive a nail through a wire and cause a short.
However, MANY older homes with K&T have NO BOXES. Therefore no "fire
enclosure" if a faulty device (switch , receptacle, or lamp base)
should start on fire. That's where the underwritters start having
fits. Particularly if there is flamable insulation around those wires.
On 9/11/2009 2:53 PM firstname.lastname@example.org spake thus:
Yabut, the K&T circuits (3 of them) are all on 15-amp breakers, so
they're well within their ratings. No danger there.
This was stated elsewhere in the thread, and I agree with it.
I've seen lots of houses with K&T wiring, but *none* with "no boxes" as
you describe. (On the other hand, I have seen *lots* of wiring added
later that should have in boxes but wasn't.) All devices (switches,
outlets and lighting fixtures) have proper boxes here.
Found--the gene that causes belief in genetic determinism
Heck, if anything, it is safer.
It takes a lot of care to initially install K&T wiring as compared to just
slapping down some romex and putting in a few staples. K&T doesn't depend
upon the insulation of the individual conductors to prevent a short. The
knobs and tubes are made of a ceramic.
K&T wiring doesn't have a separate ground conductor and until GFCIs became
available, that increased the risk of shock from appliances and in wet
Powering a section of K&T from a GRCI breaker creates a very safe situation.
Yeah why bother installing something that saves lives, bet they want
to save bucks on their new vehicle by deleting safety belts? and why
not remove and sell off the air bags too.
hey wonder what the courts would say if dave here did some remodeling
in kitchen or bath and didnt install GFCIs.
later a hairdryer drops in the tub and a child dies.
happy go lucky dave losses everything he owns.........
would he be criminally liable? but he did save the custmer a few
I service machines for a living and have seen lots of safety hazards.
I REFUSE to work on a machine that has a gross safety hazard unless
the customer approves my correcting that safety issue as part of the
what other things are installed so long ago without being replaced for
newer safer items. please name some I am interested?
Around here K&T has no boxes unless they were added at a later date.
the wires are soldered on and buried in walls where connections cant
if the solder joint detoriates for whatever reason it can overheat and
since its not in a box cause a fire..
plus K&T homes are lucky to have one outlet per room, which leads to
lots of trip hazards, idiots puttng extension cords under carpets and
overloaded circuits most K&T homes have very few seperate circuits.
lack of grounds is a biggie for me. a ungrounded but GFCI outlet can
cause computer troubles:(
Maybe if you learned to read you could figure out what John and Dave said.
Another item you have been challenged on in the past. In years of doing
service work I never saw a solder joint that "deteriorated". I saw 2
that failed that were "cold joints" when they were made. One was K&T.
Anecdotal evidence (clare's younger brother) proves the real hazard is
Romex. I am confident you will now demand removal of all the hazardous
Romex wiring out there.
It is certainly as strong as your anecdotal evidence.
Or has an insurance company come up with actual casualty data?
K&T typically has one outlet per room, necessitating lots of extension
cords. beyond the unsafe stuff the OP admitted on post one and ii
pasted, do you still think K&T is safe and effective?
90 year old anything is elderly, all sorts of wierd stuff happens when
something is that old.
how many roofs has a 100 year old home had? how many plumbing
how many vehicles have you had in a lifetime?
nothing lasts forever despite how much you protest
The number of outlets in a room has nothing to do with whether K&T is
safe. My house, originally wired with rigid pipe, had one or two outlets
per room when it was built.
The anecdotal evidence in this thread (clare) clearly indicates Romex is
Still missing - the insurance casualty data that shows K&T is unsafe. An
insurance company did not present any such data in one of the links that
The only links that have been posted do not support your crusade against
I believe the electricians in this newsgroup do not agree with you.
yeah sure obsolete wiring thats been hacked repaired admitted by OP in
post number one so old the insulation is falling off, no GFCIs, no arc
fault breakers, no grounds, with lots of extension cords run around.
Yep totally safe and effective, heck its so great it should be the
all those required NEC safety codes are totally unnecessary, and state
farm is out to lunch refusing to insure homes with K&T/
heck high steps with no railings, its just a scam to sell
those defending K&T are just attempting to defend their refusal to
upgrade their homes.......
The NEC still has a section on K&T. Among the limited applications is
reconnecting in a rewire. Why is it still there?
In Minnesota, State Farm put a surcharge on houses that did not have the
service replaced in some time period (don't remember what it was). They
were reversed by the state insurance regulator. I remember there was no
insurance casualty data that supported the surcharge.
In one of the links provided, an insurance company that was challenged
"provided no justification for its position".
As I have said, K&T is probably the latest redlining technique.
The house I live in has never had K&T.
The links provided do not support your fetish.
I don't remember anyone else who did either. Why don't you get any
Still no insurance casualty information that shows K&T is a problem.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.