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Thread: K & T replacement how much $$

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2002

    Default K & T replacement how much $$


    A cost question :
    How much would an electrician charge to replace exposed K&T in a basement ? It took me 3 ( tough )days to do ,used about 200 ft romex, 10 boxes, installed 3 light fixtures , reorganized some of the breakers , installed some GFCI's .Can you give me a minimum ?

  2. #2


    A wild guess without seeing the house I would have allotted 2 men approximately 7 hours to do that job as you discribe. At an approximate 50 per man hour that would be approximately $ 350 plus material. Guessing on material would hit about $ 75 cost total about $ 425. That would change drastically depending on location cost factors of your area.

    Now that you have done you project by removing all EXPOSED knob and tube wiring what do you feel you did to better your home?

    If you look at it realistically you removed all the knob and tube wiring that may have failed at one time or other if overworked and damaged with new Romex yet you left all the same knob and tube wiring in place and still used but now only existing while hidden in the walls where a failed wire can fry and burn before you can see anything went wrong with that old knob and tube wiring that may have been overheated or otherwise damaged.

    I know this seems to be the method of choice by many federal and State agencies yet if flaberghasts me what the believe is being gained.

    Knob and tube wiring is normally about 80% copper and 20 % tin. The bad thing about knob and tube wiring is that there is no equipment grounding system in this wiring style. Today's NEC rules still accept knob and tube wiring style.

    Today's Romex is about 60% copper and 40% tin.

    Knob and tube wiring should not be condemned because it is knob and tube wiring. Knob and tube wiring should be judge per who is using that wiring style and if it had been updated in a profesional manner over the years as technology and load has been increased. Most important judgement of knob and tube wiring is that the fuses have not been over amp rated above the ampacity of each knob and tube wiring branch circuit. Then an inspection of htat knob and tube wiring should be performed by checking for frayed wires, open junctions not normal to knob and tube soldered joints and for brittle conditions of that knob and tube wire. To check for knob and tube wire for brittleness it should be de-energized and the wiring should be bent at regular entervals to see if the insulation of that wire has become brittle and cracks when bent. This happens when wiring is overloaded over the years. Knob and tube wiring in an older home used by the life style of an older person that grew up with this wiring style and has not bought all the convenient loads of appliances of today most likely used by younger generation.

    If a home has been sold from an older person to a younger person then the loads are going to change from the habits of the older person using less loads to the habits of the younger person using much more load due to modern equipment being used.

    Just removing old exposed knob and tube does not make that wiring safe. It just leaves hidden risks unseen by the occupant if something goes wrong.

    Two ways to update knob and tube wiring to today's loads normally used.

    Rewire the whole house just like new wiring leaving no knob and tube wiring updating to the Romex cable style wiring with equipment grounding. Hardest and most expensive to do yet best in the long run.

    Partial rewire using the principle that an old horse can still do work if not a damaged horse. Just can't do the work of a young horse.

    A partial rewire would entail totally rewiring the kitchen and laundry receptacle wiring and any appliances put on dedicated branch circuits. Then install a new 20 amp GFI protected bathroom receptacle branch circuit for all the bathrooms. Using the old knob and tube wiring for light fixtures and general use receptacles in living areas such as living rooms, bedrooms, dens etc.

    This partial rewire is intended to have new wiring installed to carry all heavier loads leaving the knob and tube wiring to carry the lighter loads.

    This would make you knob and tube wiring much more safe as long as that old knob and tube wiring upon inspection is found to be pliable and without frayed wires or open junctions not accepted as soldered knob and tube wiring practice.

    Hope this spurs some thought.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2002



    I must have understated the work ( or I'm slow ) . I put in a solid 40 hours. Took a lot of time to run romex up to the main floor plugs . about 5 or 6 of these. Even though they were in the baseboards getting up the romex meant basically pulling the old boxes out and resetting them . Just rewiring the door bell took 3 hours.
    Replacing the exposed k&t , and protecting all non grounded plugs with GFCI's was dictated by an insce co. inspector. The house is ~ 80 years old and is a mix of k&t , old romex ( no grd wire ) and newer grded romex wire . I re-organized some circuits , and the associated breakers to reduce loads .The main floor plugs all run on new romex ( including the kitchen ) , but the lights on k&t .Second floor is a mix. The house itself only has a 60 amp service.
    The exposed k&t in the basement joists was a bit of a safety issue ( condition of insulation ,connections, seemed OK ) and was an eye sore. A few light fixtures didn't have boxes as well so I guess the inspector didn't like the overall look . Its a lot neater now , and more modern looking. Actual load issues aren't that much changed.
    I agree with you that the best route is a systematic switch over to romex , avoiding the old k&t altogether.

    A bit confused as to your cost eqaution. Do you mean $50 per individual man or $50 for the two of them combined ? Your calcualtion of $350 would seem to impy the latter. ie 7 hrs x $50 =$350 .
    Apparently a complete conversion to romex in the house was quoted as $9000 .00 ( in Cdn funds of course ) . This is just the wiring I'm sure , not all the repair to the damaged walls , where they would have to be broken.
    Thanks again for all the advice!

  4. #4


    Yes the estimate was times two men.

    Total rewire of a single story house spending extra time trying to limit damage to walls would be around a 40 hour work week for two men on a normal occasion. Again it is hard to even come close.

    Guess counting material and labor about 4500 to 6000 dollars per single story home on a total rewire. Again that is a generality.


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