Should I replace knob and tube wiring?

39 Replies

What is your plan with it? Are you flipping it, or holding onto it? Me personally, I would replace it. It makes a notable sell point for updated wiring, and if you are holding onto it, it would benefit you for fire safety. 

Originally posted by @Tj M. :

I am doing a remodel on a house with knob and tube wiring. Would you spend $5k-8k to replace it all or just leave it?

I can and do rewire to code.

If I was new, I'd take a basic wiring course and do it myself. It's worth having the knowledge and it really isn't all that difficult. Try a local community college or Home Depot. Or, hire a college student studying electronics. That alone would save you probably $5,000

 

I would absolutely replace it.  Most of the times we find that people splice the old stuff with the new.  If there is a fire because of bad wiring and it's your rental that could be trouble.  Even if you plan to sell it I would still replace it as that will likely reduce your asking price or most people get scared off by it.

since you are going to have the walls open...might as well go head and replaced the wiring. Here in st Louis a handful of people that remodel their homes actually keep the knob and tube to have more of the historic look but for a flip yeah replace.

depends on the asset class and price point . In other words I wouldn’t dump 10 grand in a 40 grand house for just the wiring . You might go another 50 years on that knob and tube and never have a problem

I believe most building codes require that if you open up walls you must bring wiring in that area up to current code, which would mean replacing the wiring, adding arc faults, etc. Regardless, I would do it. As others have noted, it becomes a selling point as well as peace of mind for you and the buyer.

Regardless of opinion, you may be required to depending on the type of work you are doing.  Some jurisdictions require bringing items up to code when you pull a permit.  Even if it's not required, I would still do it.  Make sure in your price they are upgrading the electrical panel also. And do not do it yourself! 

I would most Definitely Replace it! Its absolutely a fire hazard, and if you have altered or tampered it in any way it is a potential disaster.

Hope that this helps.

@Tj M. I pretty sure that if you open up walls or even touch any electrical component you have to bring the wiring up to code. Also as many have already mentioned most insurance carriers will have have a hard time insuring knob and tube. Even if you are able to get around ALL of these to not replace it... it'll probably show up in your resale when a buyer sees an updated space but their inspection reveals knob and tube. 

I hope this helps.

@Tj M. Yes if you’re doing a remodel, now would be the perfect time to get rid of that outdated wiring. Lenders and and insurance companies are not big fans of electrical technology that was phased out leasing up to WW2, so if you’re ever planning to sell or have it insured you’ll want to have updated wiring. K&T wasn’t necessarily dangerous when it was being installed and was phased out for cost reasons not safety reasons, but the fact that it is now 80 plus years old, and most likely has splices in it done by who knows who, and bigger loads on it than it was intended for, original fuses replaced with modern fuses meant for higher loads, the cloth and rubber insulation has likely dried out and become brittle, cracked and been chewed on by vermin... all that means it has a high likelihood of being dangerous today or at the very least insufficient to handle modern day electric loads. Get rid of it now while you’re remodeling anyway, it’s long overdue.

Updated about 1 year ago

typo: leading not leasing

Originally posted by @Tj M. :

I am doing a remodel on a house with knob and tube wiring. Would you spend $5k-8k to replace it all or just leave it?

TJ, I don't know of a single insurance company who will knowingly insure a property that has K&T.  

If you want to keep it as a rental, you will probably be stuck insuring it with the states insurance fund/pool with a high price/low coverage policy.

 

@Tj M.

Yes, unless you don’t care if it burns down and possibly someone dying. My conscience couldn’t do that, unless you let the buyers know this is knob and tube and should be replace immediately.

@Account Closed This advice is beyond terrible. Did you really just suggest that you have a college student just learning electrics do the wiring on a rental house? Not only unlicensed but really inexperienced? Someone will die, and if they do you might go to jail. At the very least in any kind of dire you won’t be covered by any insurance and you will be bankrupted by the civil suit that follows. Wow.

Originally posted by @Jonathan R McLaughlin :

@Mike M. This advice is beyond terrible. Did you really just suggest that you have a college student just learning electrics do the wiring on a rental house? Not only unlicensed but really inexperienced? Someone will die, and if they do you might go to jail. At the very least in any kind of dire you won’t be covered by any insurance and you will be bankrupted by the civil suit that follows. Wow.

Don't be absurd.

Electronics students are taught how to wire houses (at least they were when I went through the program) besides it has to go through inspection anyway. It isn't brain surgery. My point was that pulling wire is one thing (a menial task) which saves a ton of money if the electrician doesn't have to do that part, and then you have the electrician finish it. Sorry if if that wasn't apparent.

 

@Account Closed I don’t think it’s absurd at all, and it dangerous advice for people new to this, but I did think you meant having that random college guy do the whole thing...it read like that

Yea, pulling wiring etc isn’t nearly that big a deal, but you are assuming a level of competence most people don’t posses. And you can get away with everything till the stuff hits the fan.

Definitely remove the K&T and rewire it all.  Do not leave it in some areas, like the attic.  I like to buy old Victorian homes and fix them, often they will rewire all the house, but one bedroom, or the attic, or a bathroom.  Don't be that person!  Rewire it all AND remove all the old K&T.  That is the other things I find annoying, just seeing the K&T in an area with new wiring that bypassed around the K&T, but left the old system in place.

One idea you may be able to do depending what you were doing and how you wanted to approach it. You could possibly encase the old style KnT in plexiglass once the wiring was replaced and show the historical aspect of the house as a show piece? It would be disconnected and safe but it may be a conversation starter, or could be a neat historical feature. Some outside the box thinking. I am not familiar with KnT or how it is setup. It should be replaced for sure. 

@Account Closed You really should be using a licensed electrician for a whole house rewire especially if permits will need to be pulled. Going to Home Depot for a 2 hr class on painting a bedroom is one thing, but electrical is a different beast that can have deadly consequences if not done by someone who knows what they are doing

Originally posted by @Jonathan R McLaughlin :

@Mike M. I don’t think it’s absurd at all, and it dangerous advice for people new to this, but I did think you meant having that random college guy do the whole thing...it read like that

Yea, pulling wiring etc isn’t nearly that big a deal, but you are assuming a level of competence most people don’t posses. And you can get away with everything till the stuff hits the fan.

THat's why they invented inspections. ;-)

 

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

We hate spam just as much as you