Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wired: Rewiring an Outlet In the Dark

The move is less than a week away and we're in a frenzy of last minute things to get done around the house.  Fixing a fan pull, replacing a toilet handle, lots of little things that we've put off but need to be done before we leave it in the hands of tenants.  One of those things is rewiring the outlets in the laundry room.

We've rewired the outlets in most of the house over the past few years, mainly because they looked old and we replaced them with nice new shiny ones.

I primed the laundry room a while back and I removed the outlet covers. (I eventually decided since we were close to selling it to just leave it primed instead of choosing a color so the new owners had it ready for whatever color they wanted) I tossed out the covers because I knew that I wanted to replace the dark brown outlets with nice new white ones.  So for the past few months (it might be closer to a year), the hideous brown outlets have been staring me down from the white walls.

Exhibit A:

For most of the outlet rewiring, it gets put off because we have to kill the power and we usually don't get around to it til night time and then there is no natural light to rewire with.  In the laundry room, which is in the basement...this is a constant excuse and one that isn't going away.

So step one was to kill the power.  Luckily a while back my mom helped me label some of the circuit breakers, but the wiring in this house is still wonky.  For instance, the kitchen is on 3 different breakers.  One breaker does the outlets on one wall of the kitchen, plus the overhead lights in the garage.  Another does the overhead lights, plus the outlets in the dining room and 1 outlet in the bathroom.  Weird.  You get the picture. So I clicked off the breaker labeled 'laundry room,' went back to the laundry room and sure enough the lights were out.  I pulled out my flashlight and started unscrewing the outlet and thought, "You know...maybe I should check this specific outlet."  So I plugged in the iron and it lit up like always.  ARG.  So back to the circuit box.  Clicked another one that was a likely luck.  This went on and on til I got fed up and just killed power to the whole house.  Finally...the outlet was off.

So I unscrewed the screws holding it in place at either end, took a look at which wire was where on the old outlet.  You don't have to be an electrical genius to just replicate what is already there.  So take note of which wire goes where...exactly, and replicate it with the new outlet. 

Here is that step:

OK, that's me being was dark after all.  Truthfully, I was too busy holding the flashlight and the outlet and the screwdriver to take pictures in the dark.  But I put all the wires back where they belonged on the new outlet, screwed the new outlet into the wall with the screws at either end, and then put the nice shiny new white cover over it.

The finished product:

And of course then I had to go around the house resetting all the clocks.  Too bad I still have 2 more to do.  I did that one during nap time and with all the circuit breaker nonsense I only had time for 1.  The procedure for changing a light switch is pretty much identical.

So do you do wiring projects around your house or do you leave that stuff up to the professionals?

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