General Question

trahelyk's avatar

What are these little knobs on my house, and will I die if I touch them?

Asked by trahelyk (32points) August 19th, 2009

I’m painting my house, and I found some little knobs with wires attached to them. I’m wondering if I can remove them before I paint and whether they will zap me if I touch them. This is an 80-year-old house, but the electrical system has been upgraded to a breaker box (circa 1985). When I bought the house, the inspector mentioned that one live wire remained in the old fuse box. If these knobs are related to the electrical system and if they could be live, how do I kill them?
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9 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Spring for a quick visit from electrician before they kill you.

PerryDolia's avatar

Those are insulators. They are there to keep the wires from touching the wood or touching each other. They do not conduct electricity, nor do they have any electricity in them. They are your friend.

It is the WIRES you need to be careful of. Either you know how to check if the wires are live and have voltage in them, or you need to call an electrician to tell you.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

They appear to be electrical knobs:

I would definitely call an electrician.

Bagardbilla's avatar

Yep, what everyone said…
It’s the ol’ “knob & tube” wiring system. If you can’t, have a pro test the wires to see if it’s live before removing. Good luck.

Dog's avatar

@trahelyk Welcome to Fluther!
Let us know how it goes. On a side note what style is the rest of your home ex: bungalo, craftsman, Victorian?

dannyc's avatar

Probably just the rotten neighbor’s kids..and I would not touch them if I didn’t have to…

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@Bagardbilla and @DrasticDreamer correct, it’s knob and tube wiring. It may or may not be live. Some older houses have been rewired, and the old wiring left in place but not connected. You may want to have an electrician come by and check them to see if they’re live or not. In a lot of states, if you have work done and find knob and tube you’re required to replace it as you find it. It can pose a fire hazard if the wires fray.

I too have one room with knob and tube in the ceiling. If you know you have one wire, it would make sense to have an electrician come and give you an estimate for replacing it.

SeventhSense's avatar

PerryDolla has the answer. They’re just insulators made of ceramic because they won’t rust etc. It’s the wires you have to be concerned about.

Judi's avatar

My electrician husband says to test them with an electrical tester and see if they’re hot. If they are, disconnect the live fuse. ( we couldn’t see your picture .)

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