As the real estate market returns to normalcy around St Petersburg, and the Tampa Bay area, a few things are happening that can cause turmoil for those involved in the real estate transaction:
- In the wake of no major hurricanes in 10 years, more home insurance companies are writing business in Florida
- More homes are for sale. The Tampa Bay area in general was largely built out in the 1950's through 1970's
- The 2010 Florida regulation of the home inspection industry has created a glut of inexperienced inspectors who merely need to go through classroom and some field training and pass a test to become 'licensed'.
One of the biggest issues arising from the combination of all 3 events is the use of a 4 Point Insurance Inspection being needed on homes 30 years or older to obtain insurance. One of the more confusing issues to come to light recently is on the Citizens 4 Point Form, which has become the industry standard, is a selection on the type of wiring used in the house marked 'cloth covered wiring'.
From the 1900's through the early 1940's, knob and tube wiring was mostly the only affordable available option for wiring a house. This is what is the true meaning of 'cloth covered wiring'. Knob and tube was a copper wire or copper tinned aluminum wire wrapped in nothing but woven cloth or a very brittle rubber coating with cloth directly around it. To protect the wiring, it was ran through ceramic knobs and tubes in areas that would be prone to abrasions such as through framing members or bends in the attic as pictured below:
In the mid 1940's came a new single all in one jacketed wiring which was a derivative of knob and tube. It was a copper wire or copper tinned aluminum wire encased in brittle rubber which then has a woven cloth covering tightly over the wire similar to the actual old knob and tube wiring. This was then surrounded by a coated cloth woven black jacket that made the entire jacket stiff and difficult to bend easily. The biggest issue with it was that the rubber used was of somewhat poor quality and as this wiring is bent or moved, the rubber coating around the wire being so brittle from age and quality, tends to just fall apart. This rubber is generally SO brittle, it can be removed from the wiring with just a fingernail, as I did in the photograph below. The issue here is if this rubber coating disintegrates or falls off a wire in an attic or behind a wall, and the bare hot and neutral wires make contact with each other, arcing can occur, which can lead to house fires. The issues with this wire type, as well as knob and tube, generally make them insurable in our current insurance market.
In the 1950's, a better outer wax treated cloth jacketed wiring began being used with a better quality PVC rubber surrounding the wiring that is similar to what is in use today. It is easy to recognize and was generally white or silver in color and appears as a series of tightly woven "V's" which is commonly referred to as Braided Romex. This wiring, as in all others of this era, is still lacking a ground wire for safety and usually needs repairs such as GFCI protection added to make using modern 3 prong appliances with it safe to use. This wiring is generally mistakenly called out on the 4 point forms as 'cloth covered wiring' even though the wire itself is covered in pvc rubber, and is actually 'cloth jacketed wire'. In the truest sense of the word it is technically cloth covered, but the hazard of the older wiring is that the older rubber became brittle, whereas this wiring has a more advanced pvc rubber covering around it, which, to date, GENERALLY has not shown the degredation issues as with its predecessor(s). Obviously, though, due to its age, every case is different and if warranted, this wiring may show signs of problems and should be reviewed by a qualified electrical contractor.
The late 1960's saw the introduction of what we now refer to as Romex wiring. It is a thermosplastic plastic sheathed cable with a ground wire added for safety. This wiring has served as the backbone for our electrical needs and should have no insurability issues.
In summation, the biggest ally on your side is individuals with the knowledge and experience to advise you accordingly. Always seek second opinions when those of the initial individual giving you their advice seems out of the norm with your experiences. As the old saying goes, the fewer the facts someone knows, the stronger their opinions.