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Knob and tube wiring is a simple form of wiring that gets its name from the porcelain knobs and tubes used in the installation process.The wiring itself is simple copper wires wrapped in a rubber sheath (earlier versions were wrapped in asphalt soaked cotton cloth).Knob and tube works best when it has air to breathe.If you cover it with blown-in insulation it is not able to cool down and dissipate heat like originally intended, and this increases the potential for fire.
At the time, it was the standard for wiring new electrical installations due to its relatively low cost compared to the other options of the time like armored cable and conduits, which could cost two or three times as much as knob and tube wiring.You knew I was going to get to it eventually, right? Yes, knob and tube wiring has a very distinct set of disadvantages too.That’s right, there is no ground wire included in a knob and tube setup. It wasn’t until the 1960s that a dedicated ground wire was consistently included in every circuit.Today, there is a definite fear of old house wiring, especially when it comes to knob and tube wiring.
Some of that fear is reasonable and some of it, like anything, is just blind fear from lack of knowledge.I am a licensed general contractor who works exclusively with historic buildings and have had plenty of experience with knob and tube, as well as learned a lot from the very skilled electricians on my job sites.