Monday, February 9, 2009

The Joys of Home Ownership

Now, I am nowhere near as articulate as Marc in general, nor can I upload photos like Lee, but I want to share this weekend's home improvement project horror story.

Nancy and I decided that it was time to replace all of the outlets in the house that were near a water source with GFCI outlets.

It seemed relatively straight forward. I had already replaced about a dozen standard outlets throughout the house, several light fixtures, and three ceiling fans. I felt confident that I could do this.

Our first obstacle was determining which switches in the panel shut off which rooms in the house. We had found out over the years that some of the wiring is a little bit squirrelly.

We figure out how to shut off the kitchen and we get to work on the first outlet, which shares a box with a light switch. We had bought new outlet covers to deal with the larger size of the GFCI outlets. It all goes well until I attempt to attach the new cover. I give it one turn too many and crack the casing.

I yell and unlike Marc, I curse a whole lot (as Logan is asleep) and then move to the other side of the sink to work on a single outlet.

I remove the old outlet cover and I hear some skittering down the turns out that this box was sort of floating with a minimal attachment to the drywall and the two small clips holding the box in place fell off as I took off the cover. And instead of using any sort of electrical tape, the wires were taped with masking tape...brittle, decades old masking tape.

I do my best to fix the floating box, but this, coupled with the change in the size of the GFCI outlet gave us this wonderful, non-flush look...

So I quit for the night as this project took way too long and I decide to tackle the bathroom in the morning.

The plan in the bathroom is two-fold. Where we have two switches and one outlet now, I am going to tie off one switch (for use as a venting fan this spring), move the other switch, and add the GFCI outlet.

I wish I had taken more pictures because the wiring was insane. I finally figure out which wire goes where (including one that goes way out to the foyer!), move everything around, get the box looking pretty good, when it becomes obvious to us that the tile around the box will not allow the outlet cover to fit snuggly. Nan spends about an hour chiseling away pieces and finding some extra long screws, but this one...this one came out pretty good. I changed over to a flat switch, blanked out one slot and put the GFCI in rather nicely.

Bottom line, a project that should have filled me with pride and taken about an hour, ended up leaving me ashamed and took up the larger part of two consecutive days...and I still have one outlet to do!


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  2. Oh, you are the master of home improvement as far as I'm concerned. I didn't even understand half of what you wrote and that has to mean that you are wiser than me in matters of electrical wiring.

    I am also happy that you did not electrocute yourself.

    You'll have to come take a look at my wiring some day. I am certain it would take an army of (professional) electricians at least 3 weeks to rewire the house properly and safely.

  3. Yes--per Marc, electrical work is very dangerous indeed. Congrats to you both on surviving AND rewiring like champs! TV show to come: "She was a single mother, back from Iraq, fighting PTSD and an uncaring System. One man, and one woman--the Mocks--made her a palace of the finest marble and gold, in which she now lives, happy at last."

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. See what your steroid use has done to you? "One turn too many", indeed. Grrr...Hulk update outlet!"


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