A Brief Interlude, on Knob and Tube

In the kitchen, I fell in love with the Aga stove.  "The seller is Irish, and she insisted on it," explained the seller's agent.  In the basement, we gazed approvingly at the high efficiency German-engineered boiler.  In the attic, we spotted unusual wires.  I wondered what sort of fabulous European innovation they represented.  "Oh, yes, the house has knob and tube on two floors," said the seller's agent.

Knob and tube?  It sounded vaguely pornographic.  The truth was even more disgusting.  "K&T" to those in the know means that the house's electrical system dates back to the 1930s or earlier.  It's ungrounded.  It's a fire hazard.  Accordingly, it's pretty much impossible to get home insurance or a mortgage on a house containing it.

The seller's agent waved away our concerns.  "I'm sure it won't cost more than $5,000 to update the house," she said.  The electrician added a strategic zero to her estimate.  Farewell, Aga.  The search continues. . . .


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