Most certainly, if you have purchased a grand old home with knob and tube wiring, you know that you will need to address this antiquated wiring method. Depending on what you, the home owner, wants to accomplish there are three ways to deal with knob & tube wiring:
If the home is your “forever” home, complete replacement of the existing knob & tube wiring with a wiring system designed to the latest Electrical Safety Code standards is the right choice. The knob and tube wiring and the highly likely additions and alterations are better served by removal and rewiring to the most current electrical code requirements. Rewiring an existing home is much more complex than a new home build, but with the right team, it can be accomplished in a very professional manner. A competent, licensed electrical contractor will have on his team an insulation specialist. Attic work always disturbs the insulation and its integrity must be preserved. Another team member will be a interior carpenter/finisher that can dismantle and replace trim pieces and repair/repaint access holes so the home will look like no one has worked in it. It is unwise to employ a contractor that does not provide this turnkey service because the successful rewiring project does require teamwork. Rewiring does not have to be done all at once, but can be done in conjunction with other major renovations as long as your insurance company will allow it.
If you are only interested in making the home insurance compliant for immediate safety or resale you can replace the existing knob & tube like-for-like. This will not provide an upgraded wiring system that is conducive to modern wiring requirements, but all the hazards of knob & tube will be removed. Your licensed electrical contractor will still require his other team members to properly complete this project.
Finally, if your only interest is immediate safety, the Electrical Safety Code has prescriptive methods for adapting existing knob & tube wiring to GFCI protected circuits. Before deciding on this method you must be aware that this method is NOT accepted by many insurance companies and no warranty would be available regarding the compliance of the wiring. You must find out if your insurance company will accept this method and beware that subsequent owners’ insurance may not accept it. No sense throwing good money after bad.
All three methods require an Electrical Safety Authority permit to be taken out for the work done. See Knob & Tube wiring page for more information.