Many modern American homes were constructed significantly before many modern Americans were born. We have homes that have been around since the Victorian Era and before, with all that that implies. Many houses are rife with out of date, unsafe electrical wiring, insufficient or toxic insulation, or other structural problems best corrected for the health and safety of anyone currently living there. Flicking on and off the light switches is nowhere near sufficient as a way to test the efficacy of any home’s electrical wiring. The intricacies of electricity extend further than simple functionality.
Before the 1940s, electricity was often done in a knob and tube wiring style that is currently vastly out of date. People should not assume that previous tenants or homeowners updated their electricity systems without inspections, since repairing knob and tube wiring was very expensive years ago. Knob and tube wiring is unsafe and prone to problems, but it is also highly inconvenient. Home inspections and getting your home wiring checked can save families significant time, money, and heartache in the long run. People that live in houses constructed around or before the 1940s, and especially between 1880 and 1940, are strongly encouraged to get their homes inspected. Licensed electricians can tell you if the wiring in your home poses an increased risk of fire or electrocution on a large scale, or inefficiency and proneness to blackouts on a small scale.
Knob and tubing wiring was never fitted with a grounding conductor for safety back in the pre-War period. Knob and tubing wiring used to have advantages in terms of cost, but today, the price of labor tends to outstrip the cost of material. Many knob and tubing wiring systems do not have enough branch circuits to suit the needs of a typical modern household, and will strain to supply the necessary electrical load. The amount and intensity of electrical equipment required by an Information Age resident substantially outstrips anything the people of the 1940s could have expected. Knob and tubing wiring left over from decades previously may well have been damaged further by renovations over the years, wear and tear, and various household pests, which only increases the risk of problems.
There are very few situations where a knob and tubing wiring system is legally installed today, according to building codes. Insurance companies are increasingly denying coverage to homes that have not upgraded their wiring from knob and tube wiring to a more modern power cables system. Updating your home’s wiring can add a substantial amount of money to your resale value, so families will increase the value and safety of their homes by updating them to meet modern electricity specifications.