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Serving the Buffalo-Niagara Falls Area since 1995

Scherer Electric Blog

Knob and Tube Wiring: Should You Rewire Your Home?

We have a long history, more than two decades, servicing homes in Western New York, so we know all about specific issues homes in the area encounter with their electrical systems. Numerous homes in the area are vintage, built before World War II, and they often still have wiring that’s of the same vintage. An early 20th-century home kept in good shape is often a beautiful place to live—but if the wiring is the old-fashioned “knob and tube” wiring, everything is not so beautiful.

We’ll answer the questions people have about knob and tube wiring. To schedule an appointment with an electrician to see if you need rewiring in Buffalo, NY for your house, simply reach out to our team.

What Is “Knob and Tube” Wiring?

Also known as “open wiring,” knob and tube wiring is an early type of wiring system for homes that was used from ca. 1900 to around 1940. This is an ungrounded system made up of copper wires that are run through floors, ceilings, and attics. The wire has cloth insulation around it, and to further limit the possibility of fire damage, the wires are passed through porcelain knobs to keep raised wires away from wood and other combustible surfaces. The porcelain also lines the holes through beams and joists where the wires pass. It can look messy, but it did get the job done of moving electricity through homes in (relative) safety. The term “open wiring” refers to the amount of space around the wires to help prevent overheating.

Is Knob and Tube Wiring Dangerous?

Not if it’s properly cared for an upgraded—it was designed specifically to address the safety concerns of early 20th-century homes.

But here’s the problem—knob and tube wiring is almost never cared for or in good shape today. If a home has this type of wiring that is more than eighty years old, it’s facing serious fire hazards. The cloth around the copper wires eventually deteriorates and the porcelain knobs crack, allowing wires to sag. Previous homeowners probably did their own repair and upkeep work in these electrical systems, and that means many houses will have clumsily jerry-rigged “solutions” to their knob and tube wiring.

A further danger is upgrades to the insulation in older homes that places the insulation directly over the wiring. Without enough air around the wires, they’re at a higher danger of overheating. The wiring can rarely handle the increased energy demands of modern households, which adds another dangerous layer to knob and tube wiring.

We Strongly Recommend Replacing Knob and Tube Wiring

For all these reasons, as well as the decrease in value of the house on the market, we advise our customers to schedule a whole-house rewiring to upgrade the electrical system to current standards. This is a large job, but it’s one our licensed electricians can accomplish without creating too much disruption to your home life. And the outcome is worth it—peace of mind about safety and a more reliable electrical system that can handle your current appliances.

Call on Western New York’s Favorite Electrician! Scherer Electric offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

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