Residential Renovations in Back Bay: Upgrade Knob & Tube Wiring

Massachusetts has a long and storied history and, in fact, there are many homes still standing today throughout the state that are hundreds of years old. However, homeowners doing renovations or making residential wiring repairs in Back Bay and the surrounding Greater Boston area, are still dealing with electrical issues, such as wanting to upgrade knob and tube wiring. Installed in houses up until about 1945-1950, one of the biggest problems with this type of wiring is that it does not contain a ground wire.

Why is a Ground Wire Necessary?
If you will be plugging in modern appliances that require the use of a third prong, you won’t be able to use them in a home that has knob and tube wiring. While many homeowners love the idea of living in a home that is one hundred years old or more, they might not be aware of the issues that this type of wiring can cause. However, in homes where the wiring is limited to the bedrooms, you might not need to upgrade knob and tube wiring right away, unless you will be using a lot of technology in that space.

While there is a lot of controversy around knob and tube wiring, it is not necessary to hire a Boston electrician to upgrade your system if you will only be plugging in two prong plugs, such as lamps, clocks, radios, and many televisions. In spite of this fact, many homeowners still contact Back Bay electrical services to ensure that there is at least one grounded outlet in each room in case they want to use a three-prong plug. It is not just about safety, but also about convenience. If you have never had to think about it before, you have likely not noticed how many appliances require a three-prong outlet, including vacuum cleaners, television boxes, and even hair dryers.

Is Knob and Tube Wiring Dangerous?
If the wiring was installed properly and an inspection reveals that the insulation jacket around the wiring is still in good condition, it could be safe to use. However, if splicing was done over the years to increase connections or if the wiring is buried inside of insulation, there could be some potential issues. Your best bet is to hire a Boston electrician who has experience working with this type of wiring to conduct an inspection and make sure that everything is working as it should. Safety hazards that require homeowners to upgrade knob and tube wiring are usually caused due to abuse, such as nicks to the wiring or a worn out insulation jacket.

While this type of wiring can still be completely safe, homeowners need to know:

  • a ground wire is required for modern appliances and technology to be safely used
  • an inspection should be performed to ensure that hot and neutral wires are not making contact, which is a potential fire and safety hazard
  • the insulation jacket, which is made of rubber and cloth, should not be worn, as it is a potential fire and safety hazard
  • the cost to maintain this type of wiring through professional Back Bay electrical services would be very high
  • grounded plugs with three prongs cannot be used with knob and tube wiring
  • many mortgage companies are reluctant to finance a home that has existing knob and tube wiring
  • most insurance companies refuse to insure a home that has existing knob and tube wiring
  • homeowners must upgrade knob and tube wiring if insulation is being added or replaced, as it can not be run in or under insulation, as it poses a potential fire and safety hazard

What Should You Do?
If you are thinking about buying an older home that has knob and tube wiring or if you already own a home and want to upgrade knob and tube wiring to accommodate more modern appliances and technology, you should hire a Boston electrician who is experienced with this type of work. While there are many local Back Bay electrical services to choose from, it is important to select a service that is properly licensed, insured, and certified to provide the services that you require. Contact M. Foley Electric to get a FREE estimate for residential wiring repairs in Back Bay and the surrounding area by calling 857-829-0516.