Friday, December 10, 2010

Electrical Madman

Now that I’ve been inspired by PR and JH and his magic bag of tools, I decided to get crazy and do some electrical work myself. I’m so into it that I even have a bag devoted exclusively electrical tools and supplies, it’s the smaller one next to my real-man tool bag. I’m like a walking version of LaValley’s Building and Supply.

Anyway, I had a problem with the switch to the outside patio light. We were doing some painting and I removed the face plate, and left it off for a couple of years. I’m not sure why, but people asked if there was a problem with the electrical system and why I hadn't put it back on. I finally decided the time had come to put the plate back on, but of course I screwed it up and used the wrong screw, which was way too long. I ended up screwing it in too hard to the point where I couldn’t get it out. The rivet that held it in came loose and suddenly the screw wouldn’t come out.

I was going to have to remove the entire switch, which would entail killing the breaker, which in turn would require figuring out which breaker controlled the light. So many hurdles to overcome.

I found the breaker, and figured I could keep track of the wires by replacing them one at time. In other words, I would loosen on connection and immediately connect it to the new switch. Now this is the part you’re going to love. I got the new switch all hooked up and realized I put it on backwards.

My first thought was (after deciding I couldn’t wait for JH to save the day or for the next visit from in in-laws) that it might not matter. I thought I'd heard RR say (why don't I pay better attention?) that hooking wires backwards in certain instance didn’t matter as long as a circuit was completed. However, I wasn’t sure if this applied to switches, and it was easy enough to unhook the switch, flip it over and reattach the wires.

I did that, but this time around did not keep track of what wires went where, and I was suddenly faced with a switch in one hand three wires that all look the same. For the record, there were two blacks (the switch turns on two lights) and no white wires, it was gray. I sat for a few minutes before I finally deduced which wires were which, and I went for it.

I hooked it up, turned on the breaker, and voila. Let there be light. I couldn’t believe it, I did an electrical job, and neither PR or JH was there to hold my hand, which I would have preferred, but it wasn’t an option.

Now we have a new switch. I just have to put a plate on this loose wire (it was for speakers) and then the wall will once again look normal, sort of.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

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