Knob and Tube Wiring Services in North Bergen, NJ
Building codes are a set of rules that specify the standards for objects that are constructed like homes and businesses. Building codes impact everything from the type of insulation you can use to the requirements for the electrical system. The codes change over time as new technology emerges or new safety standards are introduced. An example of one such change is in the widespread use of Knob and Tube wiring. Popular during the late 1800s and early 1900s, this method of electrical wiring was seldom used after the 1940s. This article will examine what Knob and Tube wiring is, why it is considered unsafe, and what to do if a person believes they have this type of wiring in their home or business.
What Is It?
Knob and Tube wiring comprises copper wires that run through the lumber framing used in the building via porcelain tubes. The porcelain tubes act as protective insulation so the wires heat does not heat the lumber frame to the point of combustion. As the wires run through the home or building, they are threaded through porcelain knobs that are nailed into the framing at intervals to act as support for the wires. One advantage of knob and tube wiring is the fact that it can accommodate higher amperage than other wiring systems of the same gauge. In knob and tube wiring, the neutral and live wires are separated and run parallel with 4 to 6 inches of space between them. This allows the wires to cool more quickly by dissipating the heat into the open air.
Are Knob and Tube Wiring Safe?
Although it is obsolete and no longer installed in buildings, there are no code requirements to replace knob and tube wiring found in a home. In fact, there are master electricians today who are skilled enough to perform Knob and Tube wiring Repairs.
When evaluating the safety of knob and tube wiring, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the knob and tube wiring itself is not unsafe. It is factors like age, building insulation, and improper modifications and repairs. Second, it has no grounding wire. Because the knob and tube wiring have just two wires, a hot and a neutral, it can not handle the electrical requirements of appliances with 3 prong plugs. When knob and tube wiring was first installed, the home’s electrical needs were limited to small appliances. Over time, electrical needs have expanded and now puts too much stress on this method of wiring. Third, the wires used in the knob and tube wiring are wrapped in rubberized cloth insulation. As the system ages, the rubber becomes brittle and can crack and fall off. This leaves the copper wire exposed, which creates both a shock and fire hazard. Last, changes to the buildings where knob and tube wiring is present can cause safety issues. If insulation is added to the home, it can cover the wires which are designed to be suspended in the air so they can dissipate heat. When insulation is added it can cover the wires causing them to overheat. People also make the mistake of trying to modify knob and tube wiring systems to meet modern electrical needs. These modifications, if done incorrectly, lead to an increased risk of electrical fires.
What To Do With Knob and Tube Wiring
If a person has or is considering buying an older home, it will be important to identify if the knob and tube wiring are present. If it is found, then it is always best to find a licensed electrician who provides Knob and Tube wiring Services in North Bergen, NJ to inspect the system for damage.
Most insurance companies will refuse to insure buildings with knob and tube wiring because of the increased fire risks. An exception may be made if the system is deemed safe following an inspection by an electrical contractor however in most cases people will need to get an estimate of the cost of replacing the knob and tube wiring.
Finding knob and tube wiring in a person’s home doesn’t mean the home is unsafe. It just means that the homeowner or prospective home buyer will need to verify the condition of the wiring. Homeowners should always seek an expert to verify the system is installed and modified correctly.
Xpert Electric is a family and veteran-owned and operated business operating in northern New Jersey and the NWA area. They offer competitive rates and military discounts on all residential, commercial, and industrial electrical projects.