While knob and tube wiring were all the buzz back in the day, just as with most things we have found better ways. Especially electrical systems. Not only are most knob and tube systems majorly outdated, they stopped putting them in homes in the 1940’s. By design, they are far more dangerous than today’s electrical systems. This may be the reason you are finding it difficult to secure homeowners coverage on that gorgeous home you are about to close on.
A Brief History Lesson on Wiring
Knob and tube wiring system are exactly what the name implies, knobs and tubes. Ceramic knobs support ceramic tubes encasing electrical wires. The knobs hold the tubes in place throughout the wood framing of your home. One of the most significant differences and perhaps most dangerous one compared to today’s methods which bundle wires together with a ground wire encasing them with plastic sheathing. Knob and tube systems run black and white wires separately meaning there are no ground wires. This translates into no protection against fires or electrical shocks if a fault occurs.
According to the US Fire Department, there are more than 45,000 electrical fires each year, with almost half of those involving lighting equipment or home electrical wiring.
The increased risk of injury or destruction is one of the reasons insurance companies tend to shy away from homes with knob and tube wiring systems. Other areas that raise concern for homes with these systems include:
- Insulation: If knob and tube wiring is surrounded by insulation, it may cause heat to build up posing a fire threat.
- Grounding: As discussed above knob and tube has no grounding conductor, which makes it hazardous in kitchens and bathrooms where the likelihood of contact with water is higher.
- Age: The rubber casing enclosing the wiring may have deteriorated, dried and cracked, exposing electrical wires.
- Incorrect alterations: Modern household appliances like televisions, dishwashers, and refrigerators require a higher voltage than the appliances that were being used when knob and tube wiring was initially used. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, it’s not unusual to find that inexperienced electricians or homeowners themselves performed modifications to meet new voltage demands. These DIY fixes could pose serious safety hazards for new homeowners.
Insurance Solutions for Historical Homes
Living in the greater Philadelphia area means there are many opportunities to purchase the historic home of your dreams. But it also means you face an uphill battle when it comes to protecting that dream. Not only does the age of your home come into play but all the conditions of all the systems inside as well. Don’t let that stop you from climbing the hill, there are homeowner’s insurance products available to you and we are happy to provide them.
We work with an array of insurance carriers to provide the best coverage for your historic home. Even if you have an older home that has not been updated from the knob and tube wiring systems, we work with carriers that can provide coverage if your home contains less than 10% knob and tube wiring. We also have carriers that will insure knob and tube so long as there are functioning circuit breakers as well.
If none of the above apply to your home, we have insurers that will agree to cover the home with a work order from a licensed contractor stating that the updating of electrical systems will take place after closing. It’s vital, however, that these updates take place though and sufficient proof is provided. Otherwise, you could be in jeopardy of losing your homeowners coverage. Don’t let the fear of not getting the right coverage stop you from purchasing your dream home.
We Can Help
If you are considering purchasing an older home that may have knob and tube wiring give us a call. We will be happy to discuss what options we have available to you. Remember, it’s also important to have a licensed electrical contractor inspect the home before you close on it. Only they can give you the real status on the condition of your wiring and the updates needed. If you already own your home, be sure to update your insurance with the new information, you may find a credit or two when you do!