Home Buying in Oakland>Question Details

Oaklandish, Home Buyer in Chicago, IL

I am in the process of buying a home that was built in the 1930s and has "knob and tube" wiring. How much of a problem is this and should I?

Asked by Oaklandish, Chicago, IL Mon Apr 8, 2013

be concern

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Antoine hit on the key issue – it cannot be grounded in and of itself. Grounding was introduced in the Bay Area sometime in the 60’s – 70’s and is now a standard part of the uniform residential building code. Grounding increases the safety of electrical systems by helping reduce the risk of shocks. It is very possible to ground each outlet in a home with knob and tube – most people don’t do it because of the cost involved. Having said that, as long as the knob and tube is in good condition, it’s a system that has working successfully for years.

Every knob and tube home I’ve seen has needed upgrading in some way to add additional electrical service to meet the needs of today’s homeowners. Additionally, many homes have replaced the original fuse panels with modern electrical panels with breakers instead of fuses.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 9, 2013
They have been around for a while without any real issues. What you cannot have is "grounding" via know and tube (i.e. two prong only). It might not have enough amp's for a lot of demanding electrical utilities.. Check with an electrician.
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1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 8, 2013
I'd be more concerned about whethr or not the home has been bolted to the foundation and what kind of condition the foundation is in. Additionally, if the home has shear wall (ask your home inspector about that if you don't know what it is) then you should get it shear paneled.

Oakland is in a Zone 4 seismic area and homes built from circa 50's and older can be very vunerable to shifting off of their foundations and collapsing on the ground resulting in a total loss in most cases. Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 11, 2013
Hello home buyer,
Knob and Tube is not the end all be all and in fact I have seen it work for many homes. Often times, you will see it with conjunction to an updated electrical system. Before purchase, you want to make sure you get an electrical inspection and a home inspection. Here is an article written by a local home inspector that you may find useful:
http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2008-10-02/article/…
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 8, 2013
Contact a few electricians to look at your wiring to give their opinions and quotes . Also be sure to have your property completely inspected by a good property inspector, remember cheap is not always better. The property inspector will look at your panels and wiring as well as the rest of the home.

I have knob and tube in my 1914 bungalow, the knob and tube looks fine it’s the additions from other electricians over the past 99 years that have made it a concern. At least that is what my electrician told me.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 8, 2013
Have a licensed electrician check them out.....some homes still have these, working in conjunction with upgraded electric systems. As long as they're in good shape and functional, they may still be fine.

But if you are concerned, then for your own peace and mind, you may want to upgrade to your satisfaction.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 8, 2013
Well, it's been Ok for 80 years.
And it's "Grandfathered" in.
You might want to a historical expert before you do anything; maybe This Old House would be interested, or HGTV.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 8, 2013
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