Can I Get Homeowners Insurance with Knob-and-Tube Wiring?
If your house has the old system of Knob-and-Tube electrical wiring, you’ll likely face problems trying to get homeowner’s insurance. And if you do manage to get insured, your premiums will probably be much higher.
The difficulty of getting insurance for a home with Knob-and-Tube wiring lies in safety concerns.
With Knob-and-Tube (K&T) electrics, wires protected by insulating tubes run through holes drilled in the wooden structures of buildings, supported by porcelain knobs. The knobs and tubes separate the black (hot) and white (neutral) wires.
K&T wiring was commonly installed in Canadian homes from about 1880 to the 1940s. The system was adequate for households at the time but power use increased significantly after the Second World War, with the growing popularity of new electrical gadgets and appliances.
Modern wiring is designed to safely handle the far heavier electrical loads generated by families today, avoiding the danger of electric shock or an outbreak of fire through overworking an old system.
Another problem with getting insurance for a home with Knob-and-Tube wiring is the issue of grounding. In places where there’s a lot of water about – such as bathrooms and kitchens – an ungrounded system could be very dangerous.
Why Insurance Companies Don’t Like Knob and Tube Wiring
Many insurance companies won’t cover homes with Knob-and-Tube wiring on the basis of absence of a ground wire. Another issue is difficulty of access to inspect wiring buried within walls or ceilings.
Insurance providers will also be concerned that Knob-and-Tube wiring may be a safety hazard due to the addition of building insulation. For example, additional thermal insulation installed in an attic can smother the wiring and prevent access to the air it needs for cooling.
Most insurance companies say your home has to have a 100-amp service/ breaker panel. Knob-and-Tube systems run on a 60-amp service.
Other reasons insurance providers are wary about Knob-and-Tube wiring include concerns over:
General wear and tear – because the wiring is so old.
Damage – the ceramic knobs and tubes can crack.
Fragile insulation – K&T insulation can become brittle and flake with time.
Overheating and fire risks.
Modern technology exceeding original supply design.
Upgrading Knob-and-Tube Wiring Systems
To make it easier to get insurance for a home with Knob-and-Tube wiring, you’ll probably need to have the system updated to meet today’s electrical safety codes.
This can be tricky, particularly if the original wiring wasn’t installed properly or it’s been tampered with over the years by amateurs in a misguided attempt to make it safer or more effective.
However, you may still be able to get homeowner’s insurance if your K&T system for lighting and power outlets is upgraded to meet the following conditions:
Exposed conductors must be in good condition.
Circuits must be protected by a circuit breaker or appropriate fuse.
No further outlets are added to the original system.
Not used ungrounding plugs in laundry rooms or bathrooms or outdoors for even a lower risk level.
Knob-and-Tube wiring repairs may be a good option if budget is a concern.
A better alternative for many homes, though, may be to replace the K&T system with brand-new electrics.
Benefits of Replacing Knob-and-Tube Wiring
Rewiring your home with modern electrics will avoid all the problems associated with getting homeowner’s insurance for Knob-and-Tube wiring.
It will also be a big help if you’re putting your house on the market. Knob-and-Tube wiring is extremely unlikely to appeal to today’s home-buyers, making it much more difficult to sell your property.
Apart from safety concerns, most potential buyers will also be aware that if they can’t get insurance, they won’t get a mortgage.
Replacing a K&T system with modern electrical wiring has financial benefits as well as giving you peace of mind when it comes to safety.
Having new, energy-efficient electrics means you’ll be able to:
Get a better insurance deal.
Potentially increase the value of your home.
Cut your electricity bills.
Maximise efficiency of your appliances.
Need Expert Advice on Getting Homeowner’s Insurance with Knob-and-Tube Wiring?
Most home insurance providers in Vancouver will demand that K&T wiring is either replaced or certified as safe and in good repair.
You’ll need a licensed electrician to inspect your Knob-and-Tube wiring and explain whether repairs to the existing system could help you get homeowner’s insurance.
However, electrician contractors typically recommend a modern rewire to replace wiring that’s threaded around knobs and through tubes.
Vancouver based – Technical Safety BC points out only a qualified electrician can tell you whether your Knob-and-Tube wiring system is safe.
An experienced electrical contractor is also the best person to go to for advice on how to get homeowner’s insurance with Knob-and-Tube wiring. Our chief electrician can answer any questions you may have.
Contact WireChief Electric in Metro Vancouver at 604-800-1665 for Knob & Tube Safety Assessments, Knob & Tube Safety Repairs, and Knob & Tube Replacement.