Someone on this stack had written the following as an answer to a question back in 2011. I have been trying to research this very subject. Where in the code does it state that an Electrician can be held liable for previous work violations?

Let's say your house is really old,and has some knob & tube wiring. Perfectly safe behind sealed interior walls UNTIL you try to load that circuit beyond 10 amps; then the knobs (which insulate joins and corners of wire runs) heat up, arc, and start fires. Now, the standard is insulated multi-conductor cable, with all wire joins located in fire-rated, accessible junction boxes. It is illegal, ANYWHERE, to simply wire-nut some modern 3-conductor insulated wire to the end of a knob & tube conduit and start using that; the entire run, all the way back to the panel, must be ripped out and replaced with modern 2- or 3-conductor wire in the proper gauge for the required load. Usually, when an electrician catches any hint of knob & tube in a house, he will insist that the entire house's wiring be brought up to code even if he isn't touching any knob & tube himself, because if he knows about it, doesn't do anything about it, and the house burns down, he can be held liable, lose his license and even go to jail even if it wasn't his work that failed.

  • 1
    Can you provide a link to where this originally appeared? "You" could be anyone. Jul 26, 2022 at 1:41
  • 1
    I think it is true for most professions that if they see or have knowledge of unsafe conditions, they must report it or prevent use of it.
    – crip659
    Jul 26, 2022 at 1:50
  • 2
    When you say "YOU" referring to the author, there is no one writer of StackExchange content, it is written by anyone including you yourself, as you did here. I have reworded your question to correct that and conform to the names of things around here. Consider taking the tour. Jul 26, 2022 at 2:01
  • Unfortunately, "Someone" was last active in 2015, so we probably won't get a direct answer, but "someone else" may have an answer. Jul 26, 2022 at 3:24

2 Answers 2


I don't ever remember seeing a liability issue stated in the code. That would be between your insurance company, the lawyers and the electrician. Anybody can sue anybody. The code simply states what must be done. If renovating a floor in a house with K&T, the K&T has to be replaced but it doesn't have to be replaced in the entire house under normal circumstances. I think most of us out there would warn the customer if there was a problem and note it on the invoice. I have, once or twice, notified the local inspectors when I came across extremely hazardous conditions.

  • actually the K&T can be repaired, there used to be training required when maintaining original construction. It is still code to leave in wall k&t and update feeders without replacing in-wall wiring. The historic requirements have eased and usually allow modern electrical but all evidence is required to be invisible to the casual viewer. Meaning you can use Romex / conduit but it is usually hidden behind a panel in basements and the old fuse blocks and knife switches mounted on the door that conceals the modern breaker panel usually connected with wires to look real but no connections.
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 26, 2022 at 16:06
  • @EdBeal But if the walls are removed during the renovation, then the K&T has to be replaced.. right?
    – JACK
    Jul 26, 2022 at 16:18
  • If no changes to the electrical they don’t have to be removed by the NEC, however some jurisdictions push hard to eliminate the old wiring, this made it hard to maintain the historical listing of some properties. If the electrical is being modified and the walls are open some jurisdictions do require replacement. I would say if you cannot see the updates it should be allowed / even required for safety note I said Romex but have used MC in most.
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 26, 2022 at 17:29

The code itself is not the enforcement arm but it sets the Minimum standard.

the AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) is the agency or building codes division of your state that inspects the work to verify the work was done to code. Failure to meet code can have financial impacts along with the loss of the license & bond that allows one to do the work.

If a shortcut was taken that violates code and later that shortcut ended up causing a loss of property or life the insurance companies are the driving force for legal action to recover some of the losses.

The person that preformed the work is the one they go after, the state is not held liable unless corruption can be proved.

There have even been suits when the work was completed to code but 12-15 years later the code changed and a loss happened that the suit tried to get $ for what was a legal installation at the time.

So to answer the question code is the minimum standard. State and local administrative rules and law may have penalties for violations but normally it is the legal system that goes after the license holder for the work done.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.