Knob and Tube Wiring

Recently a house was inspected here in Maine. It was noted that there was knob and tube wiring in some places of the wiring system. Most of the wiring has been upgraded.

We had a licensed electrician inspect the wiring and judged it to be satisfactory.

The prospective owner has taken issue with the old wiring, and want it replaced because they attempted to get insurance and were denied after the buyers told the insurance company that this knob and tube wiring was there.

Does anyone know the about the acceptance of thid kind of wiring?


I don’t know of any insurance company that will issue a policy on a home with knob and tube.

Who hired the electrician?

Did he issue his findings in writing?

Here is a good article on knob & tube.

Some electricians (here at least) have said that knob and tube is safer (when in good condition) due to the space between the wires. We also have a very temperate climate, with no extreme temperatures, so that helps keep it in good condition.

Here in Eureka, CA I see it fairly regularly and I’m sure that there must be someone insuring these properties. We have a lot of pier and post foundation houses here too, and I know that not all insurance companies will cover those, but there are plenty that will.

State farm, for one, I think is pretty particular. Try some other companies.

A written statement from the electrician may be accepted by some insurance companys in my area. From the buyer’s perspective though, they get their mortgage but it does not mean they are covered if there is a fire! The best insurance is new wiring, IMO.

John Kogel

Have the electrician put that statement on his letterhead and sign it. He’d be a fool to do so. If you are involved with the electrician in any way, I’d form a new relationship with someone else.

If you referred it to an electrician and the buyer hired one who said it’s OK, the monkey is off your back. But if I was the buyer, I’d get a second opinion.


When you refer something like that out, refer it to a licensed “and competent” contractor. Just because you got your electrician license 40 years ago, doesn’t mean you are competent. I’m sure we’ve all seen instances of morons who have a contractors license.

The state of PA, with exception to a few cities, is really scary. There is no contractor certification. If you have a magnet on your truck that says you are an electrician, you are an electrician…scary indeed.

I am working on a program in my jurisdiction to have a very basic and simple contractor registry program. Basically, this program will just check insurances and stuff.

To me it seems to be a negotiating issue and the electricians opinions are moot.

A) Insurance company won’t insure.
B) Buyers want it fixed so they can insure it.
C) Sellers either have it fixed or don’t
D) Buyers buy it or don’t.

Most likely the seller has the home insured, what company did he use?

I see knob and tube wiring here all the time. I always call it out, and my software states that SOME insurance companies wont insure a home with K & T, so they should check with their insurance company prior to close of escrow.

That’s becoming less and less of an avenue lately, as even some people who have faithfully paid their premiums for decades are now faced with new insurance company requirements to just renew their policy. I hear these woeful tales on a regular basis.

You covered yourself by suggesting a electrician look at it. In N.J. I see alot of it and this weather dries and cracks the insulation. I never follow up to see what happens, I always state the entire dwelling needs to be evaluated by a qualified electrician Much K&T is not visible and it is always incorrectly spliced in many places. Also if insulation is installed in walls or the attic that covers the wire it becomes a real fire hazard…Always cover yourself. I believe that G F C I outlets or possibly AFCI’s can be installed to make them just a little safer. Replacement is the safest option.

I heard a guy tell me once, “The only safe thing to plug into knob-and-tube wiring is a smoke alarm”.

Here’s an article on K&T and Insurance issues: Confirming there is no evidence of a problem with K&T that would justify restrictions.

Personally I think it wise to recommend new circuits for any disposal/dishwasher/washer dryer/space heating, and install an AFCI the remaining K&T sections. K&T has no heat problem if not overloaded, and the soldered connections will last longer than anything modern. See also: . Replacing K&T on light fixtures is particularly disruptive and serves only to profit those doing the work.

One of the big dangers with it is people insulate the walls that have it, but it was not designed to have insulation around it… Fire Hazard!

I always let the client know that some insurance companies around here won’t insure K&T.

I’m going to make some calls today to local insurance companies and find out who does and who does not cover this.

A lot of non-members are attracted to this thread…interesting.

Be sure to ask them to be specific in their replies.

K&T is commonplace in MN. I still see it virtually everyday. Up until recently, we had no issues attaining insurance. Recently, insurers have required the service panels be upgraded which requires splicing the K&T to Romex type wiring in splice box(s) outside the service panel. This is where I find issues… with the splice box or splices themselves. Most isues I see with K&T is NOT with the K&T itself… it is due to stoopid crap humans did to it… insulation, coat hangars hanging on it, storage pushed up against it , setting on it in the attic, etc…

As has been stated many times by many knowledgeable inspectors on this MB and others… K&T is NOT inherently a defect. The fact it exists is NO reason to call it out. If it is in a degraded state, yes, it should be referred for repair. It is not the inspectors place to REQUIRE replacement, or to prescribe a fix, as some inspectors claim they do. Advise it MAY need to be replaced if determined to be necessary by a licensed and qualified electrician, if appropriate. Be careful what you state verbally or in your report. It could come back to haunt you. Just look at the many threads started where the inspector ignored the advice of knowledgeable people and/or common sense!

Totally agree.

I call it out and suggest they contact their insurer to make sure it is not an issue.

I see it quite often here as well. I always caution, not to insulate around it, don’t modify or add to it. Any alterations should be performed by an electrician.

What I see often is it inside insulation, and open air junctions splicing it to modern wiring. That’s a no-no.