Monday, August 6, 2007

adventures of Dotty, the electrician

We have three outdoor receptacles - one on the front porch, one in the carport, and one by the french doors at the back of the house. The receptacles are beyond old. They are so worn out that when you plug something in and let go of the plug, it half falls out. That's not good.

So our "weekend warrior" project was to replace all 3 receptacles and bring it up to code by installing a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt). Our plans got messed up a little when I had to pick up hubby and his fancy schmancy bicycle after he got his second flat yesterday morning. So I ended up installing the receptacles by myself today (while hubby went on another bike ride).

Now, I'm not afraid of electricity. I spent several years in an electrical engineering program so I am comfortable around electricity. I turned off the breaker and went to work. The first thing I noticed was that the carport outlet is not on the same circuit as the other 2. OK, I'll need to buy a second GFCI before I can upgrade that one.

So I tackled the one on the front porch. After I took off the faceplate, I noticed that the receptacle was cemented in. Someone covered the screw while filling in the gap with mortar. Humph... I need a hammer and chisel to chip the cement away. I decided that I would do the one out back instead.

I got the faceplate off and pulled the receptacle out. I immediately noticed that there was no way I could get the GFCI in there. The GFCI faceplate won't fit in the space available without cutting away a section of aluminum siding. No biggie - I can install a plain one and put the GFCI in the front porch since they're on the same circuit. The replacement went smoothly except I had to run inside to get a small nail to poke into the wire release holes.

Then I went to the front porch and started chipping at the cement (when I went inside to pick up the small nail, I grabbed a big nail and a hammer). I got the receptacle out and looked at the wires. There weren't enough. I need 5 wires for the GFCI - 2 hot, 2 white, and 1 ground. I was missing one white. The GFCI really needed to be installed at the back as originally planned. Sigh... Not feeling comfortable installing the GFCI with one less wire, I installed a plain receptacle instead.

So nothing went as I'd planned. There was a lot of cursing every time I ran into another problem. Hubby was glad he wasn't around. In the end, I have 2 outlets changed (yay!) out of 3 and no GFCI installed (boo!). At least, the power won't cut out when I'm using the hedge trimmer.

And I did get some knitting done (while watching Flushed Away and The Great Muppet Caper). But it looks exactly the same as the first sock so there's no point in taking pictures. I haven't made any progress on the River Rapids sock. Maybe half a lace repeat or so. I'm getting close to turning the heel so I need to make up my mind about knitting ribbing for the back of the leg instead of the lace. I can't believe that there are some people who have already finished their August Sockdown socks.

"Mom! Can you turn the light out when you're done blogging?" - Ricky

1 comment:

PurlingPirate said...

I feel your frustration. My husband and I have been working on ours also. All of our plugs are the ones for two prongs, so we have been switching them over to 3 prongs. Also we found none of the outlets were grounded!!! It's been a slow switch over.