How To Deal With Old Wiring

Knob and tube is a form of wiring used in homes built between the 1880’s & 1930’s. It’s common to find active K&T in homes of this era, and since it poses a fire hazard, it can create a lot of headache once discovered.

Discovery of knob and tube can result in the deal “falling apart”, which is shame, because it usually just boils down to a lack of information. Here are 3 common “deal killers” that are aren’t as detrimental as they seem.

Problem: It’s always extremely expensive (myth!)

Replacement bids often come back exorbitantly high & the Buyer & Seller cannot agree on how to move forward, so the deal falls apart.


There are hundreds of great electricians out there & many that are experienced in replacing K&T, but there are few that truly understand the tricks of working with these old structures.

An electrician that knows the nuances & tricks of old structures will save themselves time, which saves you money. They’ll also get the job done with far fewer (and smaller) access points in your plaster, which again, saves you money.

We’ve got 1 master electrician that we use for these kinds of jobs. If you need his contact info, get in touch.

Problem: The buyer cannot get a loan and/or homeowner’s insurance (myth!)

You need a loan. Your lender needs proof of insurance. Your insurance provider won’t insure your future home because it has active knob and tube.


Start with the right insurance provider. You can hire a reputable, local insurance company to insure your home, as long as you provide a signed contract with an electrician stating that the K&T will be replaced within 60 days of closing. We’ve got 1 company that we recommend in these instances (that I’ve personally used for years). If you need their contact info, get in touch.

Problem: The buyer is simply scared off by knob and tube.

I don’t blame them, many agents don’t even know how to best navigate the discover of K&T. As Realtors, part of our job to share our knowledge & connections with our clients so they can make the most informed decisions. If a buyer’s agent doesn’t know how to cope with a problem or who to call, how should a buyer? Google can sometimes lead you down a rabbit hole, leaving you feeling even less informed that when you started.

Solutions for buyers:

If you’re a buyer looking at homes build prior to 1940, hire an agent that has a lot of experience buying & selling old homes. Before you hire them, ask them what the common “defects” in older homes are. Knob & tube should be on their list. Ask them how often they come across knob & tube in the condition report or during an inspection. How have they handled it?

If you’re interested in a property that has K&T, you’ve got a bit of an advantage if you’ve got the right agent on your side. By leveraging your Realtor’s connections & customized contingency language, you’ll likely beat out less informed buyers, and, if the listing agent isn’t as knowledgeable, you may even get a deal on the house.

Solutions for sellers:

If you know you’ve got active K&T, get an estimate to replace it before you list the house.

If you can, replace it, or enter a contract to have it replace during the listing term.

If you don’t plan to replace it: Maximize buyer interest by supplying the estimate along with the rest of your listing information. Buyers & agents tend to inflate repair costs in their heads, so supplying a bid off the bat will help you immensely. You should also supply information about getting a mortgage & insuring a home with active K&T. We’ve created an informational piece that we include in the listing information for all of listings that have active knob and tube.