Please browse our frequently asked questions, and feel free to contact us if your question is not answered here. We are always here to help!
Do you have any policies in place to protect the health of your employees and clients during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes. We are constantly monitoring the situation and taking guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health experts. For more information, please visit our COVID-19 Procedures page.
Where are you located?
410 Chestnut Street
Union, NJ 07083
What are your hours?
Saturday & Sunday: Closed
How long have you been in business?
All City Electrical, Lighting, Generators & Supplies has been in business since 2003.
Knob & Tube Wiring FAQ
Here are some of our most commonly asked questions about knob and tube wiring. For more information about knob and tube wiring, please see our blog.
Do I have knob and tube (k&t) wiring in my home?
You won’t see any k&t wiring in newer homes, but if your home was built in 1950 or earlier, take a look in the basement. If you notice wires running through porcelain cylinders or “tubes” inserted in holes in the wooden floor joists, you have knob and tube wiring. You’ll also see porcelain “knobs,” which keep the wires secure, and prevent them from touching the wood along which the wires run. The wires are usually insulated with a rubberized cloth fabric.
One of the main differences between modern wiring and the old knob and tube is that there is no ground wire. Therefore, this type of wiring cannot accommodate any electrical items with three-pronged plugs, and the risk of shocks and fire is much greater.
Do I need to have my knob and tube (k&t) wiring replaced?
There is nothing in the building code in America that states that k&t wiring must be removed from existing homes, but it is considered obsolete, and can’t be used in any new construction.
What can go wrong with knob and tube wiring?
Any of the problems listed below can cause short circuits or overheating. To avoid these problems, you may need to replace your house’s wiring. If in doubt, have an electrical inspection done.
- Brittle insulation
- Excess use
- Insulation over the wiring
Plugging in a lamp, or even a TV, in your living room or bedroom really doesn’t pose much of a risk when you have k&t wiring. However, in places where there’s a possibility of contact with water, for instance, the bathroom or kitchen, this type of ungrounded system could be extremely dangerous.
What can you do to maintain your knob and tube (k&t) wiring?
If you currently have k&t wiring in your home, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) provides the following advice:
- Have the system evaluated by a qualified electrician. Only an expert can confirm that the system was installed and modified correctly.
- Do not run an excessive amount of appliances in the home, as this can cause a fire.
- Replace all outlets with ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. These are 3-prong outlets with a built-in reset button.
- Where the wiring is brittle or cracked, it should be replaced. Proper maintenance is crucial.
- K&T wiring should not be used in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, or outdoors. Wiring must be grounded in order to be used safely in these locations.
- Rewiring a house can take weeks and cost thousands of dollars, but unsafe wiring can cause fires, complicate estate transactions, and make insurers skittish.
- Homeowners should carefully consider their options before deciding whether to purchase a home with k&t wiring.
- Prospective home buyers should get an estimate of the cost of replacing k&t wiring. They can use this amount to negotiate a cheaper price for the house.
What is the life expectancy of knob and tube (k&t) wiring?
Copper wiring can last up to 100 years. Knob and tube can last a long time, too, but one of the main problems with k&t wiring, of all the ones listed above, is the problem with old, worn, insulation. This tends to become brittle, and can easily break off, leaving bare wires exposed. Experts recommend you replace the wiring with new, updated copper grounded wiring.
The end result will be a more efficient, safer home, and will also increase the resale value should the time come when you decide to sell.
What will your home insurance company want to know about k&t wiring?
Your insurance company will always want to know what type of wiring your home has. They’ll want to know if the entire house has been wired this way, or if some of the home has been updated. They may require you to have an electrician inspect the wiring before they can offer you home insurance. You may find that providers won’t insure you at all, or they’ll insure you but at a higher premium.
Can knob and tube wiring be grounded?
Unfortunately, if you’re hoping to ground an existing k&t system you will be sorely disappointed. In the interest of staying up to code—not to mention ensuring your home is properly, and safely, wired top-to-bottom—you’ll have to rewire the whole property.
What is the cost of replacing the knob and tube wiring?
The exact price of rewiring your house can change dramatically depending on size, overall conditions, age of the property, access to wiring, and other factors that are impossible to predict without a firsthand look. So, it’s best to consult with a licensed electrician to get an accurate estimation of what you can expect by the project’s end.
How can you tell if a house has knob and tube wiring?
If you’re not sure whether or not your house uses k&t wiring, it’s worth taking some time to do a brief inspection of the property to find out. The easiest method will involve checking key areas, such as exposed joints in the basement or attic, for any white ceramic knobs nailed to the joists with electrical wiring twisting through them. Barring any unpredictable circumstances, the presence of these telltale signs will almost certainly mean that your house was wired using the k&t method.
It’s worth pointing out, too, that you may still have k&t wiring in your home even if you don’t find any of these indications. In these cases, you’ll want to plan a complete diagnostic to be certain of what wiring your home uses.
Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Circuit Breakers & Electrical Panels FAQ
Below are some of our most frequently asked questions about FPE. For more information about FPE, please see our blog.
How many FPE Stab-Loks are there? Why are they still in place?
It has been suggested that there are as many as 28 million of these FPE Stab-Lok® breakers in use in the U.S. which means that in some conditions as many as one million of them may fail to provide proper fire protection.
But where are they?
Most homeowners whose houses are served by these panels are unaware of the hazards. So too are some inspectors and contractors. Because most homeowners do not order periodic electrical safety inspections, the presence of these panels is often undiscovered until an inspection is made in the course of renovating or selling a property. Our field experience indicates that even when problems occur with this equipment, often it is simply removed or replaced with little publicity. Neither manufacturers nor some electricians are inclined to frighten consumers.
See How to Identify FPE Federal Pacific Stab-Lok® Electric Panels - is yours one of these?
What is the FPE Stab-Lok® Failure Rate and How Much Worse Is It Than Other Equipment?
FPE Stab-Lok® or Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok® circuit breakers can fail to trip at an alarming rate. When a circuit breaker will not trip in response to an overload there is a serious risk of fire.
What is the Proper Repair for FPE Stab-Lok® Panels and Circuit Breakers?
Homeowners and renovators who encounter these panels should replace the entire panel and circuit breaker set with new equipment. Panel replacement can involve significant expenses, typically $800 to $1200 depending on service size and other factors.
Do not simply replace individual FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breakers: first of all, there is no data suggesting that new stock, replacement FPE breakers, or "new old stock" FPE breakers found in storage somewhere perform any better than the ones already in the FPE Stab-Lok® panel. Second, there are other functional and safety concerns in the panel besides the breakers themselves. We've seen panel bus damage, panel bus meltdowns, and failure of breakers to remain secured in or onto the connecting bus itself.
What are the protocols for replacing FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breakers?
For several reasons I do not recommend attempting to "repair" an individual failed Stab-Lok® breaker by buying a replacement either from used stock, new stock, or "compatible" stock:
- The replacement equipment and parts for FPE Stab-Lok® panels have not been independently tested and demonstrated to perform any better than the original materials.
- Engineers involved in FPE Stab-Lok research have explained that a good part of the source of product failure for FPE Stab-Loks was in the original design and its specifications. It appears that while there were some "on the fly" (and unapproved) changes from time to time on the manufacturing line for this product, there was never a redesign suitable to attempt to "design out" the product failure.
- There are other hazards in FPE electrical panels besides the breakers, including bus and bus insulation meltdowns and shorts.
A few other warnings:
- "Exercising" the FPE Stab-Lok circuit breakers by turning them on and off has not been shown to "un-stick" or in any other manner improve the probability of working properly. Worse, excessive toggling of an FPE 2-pole circuit breaker on and off may increase the chances of a future failure by causing the breaker to jam internally.
- "Testing" FPE circuit breakers by applying a load may give an instantaneous picture of the performance of individual breakers but it does not predict their performance when a real safety problem occurs (over-current) later. More important, except if performed by a very expert person, in-place testing is very dangerous, risking fires in the building being tested.
Take a look at some of our most commonly asked questions about generators. For more information about generators, please see our generators page.
What are the benefits of a generator that powers your whole house?
The benefits of owning a whole-house emergency generator include:
- Ability to run any home medical devices that run on electricity.
- Adds actual value to your home or business.
- Indoor climate control during a power outage. Remember, even natural gas heating needs electricity.
- Lighting as needed.
- Overall peace of mind and sense of security.
- Power to radio, television, or computers–including for weather bulletins.
- Preventing food spoilage.
- Qualifies for a discount on your insurance policy.
What are some best usage tips for a whole-house generator?
David Agrell of Popular Mechanics says that “Your generator will stay healthy through a lifetime of outages if you”:
- Check the engine oil daily during use,
- Run it at no more than 75 percent of its rated capacity,
- Replace overworked or deformed motor brushes,
- Avoid starting or stopping it under load whenever possible.
LED Lighting FAQ
How much energy can you save by switching to LED lighting?
With lighting accounting for up to 80% of a facility’s energy consumption, the transition to LED lighting can result in energy savings of 60-90%.
Call All City Electrical help identify the best rebate program?
We are a proud partner with the NJ Clean Energy Program and a ConEdison participating contractor. This means is we can offer all our clients substantial rebate incentives to help fund their projects. Our experienced team will manage the rebate process from start to finish and guarantee a placeholder for funds prior to the commencement of any project.
EV Charging FAQ
What types of EV charging products do you install?
We install Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 EV charging solutions. Some homes and businesses are not equipped to handle the additional electrical load needed for quickly charging an electric vehicle and may require a newer electrical panel or even a higher amperage service.
What incentives does the state of New Jersey offer?
A summary of all current New Jersey electric vehicle incentives and funding opportunities, plus relevant laws, regulations, and other initiatives related to alternative fuels, vehicles, advanced technologies, or air quality can be found here.