Post-K&T wiring

Shortly after WWII, K&T was replaced by what some called cloth or paper covered copper wiring.

  1. What is the actual name for this?
  2. When it ages, the covering insulation, both cloth and paper becomes brittle and disintegrates. Most H.I.'s know this. How would you report this to your client, explaining the dangers and problem area’s?
  3. Or is this beyond the SOP?

I was reading a C&D HI report today and there is no mention at all of the possible hazars with this type of wiring. The report uses ASHI and CAHPI standards, but seems to be lacking.
I am asking this for a client for whom I renovating a bathroom and other area’s for.
Your thoughts would be appreciated.


Brian Jones

“braided romex”.

I consider old braided romex to be at least 2 or 3 times more hazardous than K&T. Matter of fact, K&T that was never fussed with or overfused is safe, in my opinion. That old braided romex is a serious hazard, and I don’t mind a bit going on record saying that. A megger check of that stuff will prove it every time.

As far as I am aware, there are no white papers or studies on this particular vintage wiring method and the resultant hazards of leaving it in service.

Thanks Marc.

I knew it was problematic, but I’m curious to know why it’s not mentioned in the SOP of the orgs I mentioned above.

Up here, most, if not all, insurance companies want to see K&T removed or charge much higher premiums. They have no penalties for the ungrounded Romex of the 1940-50’s. If this stuff is much more dangerous than K&T, wouldn’t it show up in fire investigations and their risk stats?


Anyone have any good pictures of Braided Romex?

If no one does, I can dig some out of the scrap barrel and take a few pics.

From a house built in 1953.

The ‘braided romex’ or cloth sheathed cable I have seen appears to have the underlaying plastic insulation intact. Unless that insulation is damaged, brittle or otherwise compromised, it seems like it should be OK. I do call it out if the cloth sheathing is totally falling apart.

The kind with plastic insulated conductors is usually still in good shape except at some of the light fixtures. Earlier versions had rubber insulated conductors wrapped in paper or spiraled cardboard. The rubber is always dried out and falls off when you move it. I think this is the stuff the OP is talking about.

Hey what is wrong with cloth ‘romex’? It takes paint quite well!


The home owner wanted to change his kitchen ceiling light today. When he unhooked the mar’s, everything fell apart. he’s not too happy. There was 3 wires with plastic sheathing, 4 wires with paper sheathing. The 4 wires are the ones that lost their sheathing. someone had put electrical tape on them when they installed the ceiling fan, instead of replacing them.


I did not have time last night (Valentines day and all) to go looking for this pic, but its a good one. Braided Romex, or whats left of it, across the attic entrance.


Great post started many thoughts all good .
I will be at a C&D meeting later this month and will bring it up.
I doubt they will add it as well over fifty years since it was put in .
Thanks … Cookie

Someone didn’t think so Roy…:

Post-K&T wiring2/15/08 6:52 PMtotal bull**** - again

The spiralled cardboard is what was found in this house. When we opened up the walls, the sheathing was falling apart at all the staples.
This is a young couple, owning their first home. He is in the military and 50% of his income goes to the mortgage. Re-wiring was not an option finance-wise, but methinks they are going to have to call in a sparky. Cant live in the house with wires hanging out and overloaded circuits.

Thanks for your comments people.
Brian Jones

Brian I am so sorry I can not understand what makes some people tick.
I just not see why they would do this .
I get then too what surprises me is I can get two Greens and a red for the same post.


Roy… Therte is nothing for you to apologise for, but I thank you. Every barrel of apples has one or two bad ones. Sometimes I’m one, sometimes not.

getting back to the house I’m working on, I forgot to mention the asbestos wrapped ducting we found when we opened up the walls. I informed the owners I suspected asbestos and the tin-banger confirmed it the next day More fun.

Brian Jones

Seems like some jerk is spreading that one that around tonight; got one just about the same time as you!!!

Does anyone have a beef with the paper-wrapped plastic wire from the 60’s?
I would have no problem with it if the insulation is intact and there are no rodents chewing on it. :frowning:
What about these crimped connectors? The black tape has become brittle on these connections and could lead to a short in the box if there is any movement. I would recommend find an electrician who will add wire nuts and or fresh tape at least.
Of course these connections would not be seen during a normal home inspection anyway, maybe in an unfinished basement. If so would you call them out?