Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Super Mom the Electrician

With freshly painted walls, all those mismatching outlets and switches were bringing down the decor on Upper Montrose. So, I went up to show Dee how to rewire them with fresh new white decora outlets. Basically, you just need to turn off the power to the circuit, unfasten the two screws, pull out the outlet, loosen the terminal screws and remove the wires. Take note which wire was connected to which terminal. You will find that each outlet can be wired in a few different ways, so my non-professional advice is to rewire it exactly the way you found it. Then you need to gently push the outlet back into the box, making sure that none of the wires pop off a terminal. The only thing that makes this job difficult is that the wire is very rigid, so it can be hard to bend it and cram all the wires back into the box, without the wires coming off. But once it is in, you just just fasten the outlet to the box with the two screws, put on a fresh new cover plate and then turn the power back on to the circuit. Use a tester to make sure that the outlet works properly and celebrate!

I was very proud of Dee. She rolled up her sleeves and gave it all she had. Some of the screws were caked in paint or had been in place for decades, making them difficult to loosen. Sometimes it took two hands, but she completed her first outlet, just in time to feed the baby. Now that's tough work. She has to feed that little guy every two or three hours. On our first night on the job, we completed the living room outlets and got started on the master bedroom, until it got too dark. So, we called it a night and put little Skittles to bed.

How does this super mom juggle a baby with an electrician apprenticeship? Slowly, but with increasing skill. And she'll have the satisfaction of knowing that she was the one who rewired the outlets herself. Or maybe she'll become my personal shopper in exchange for some handy work around the house. It remains to be seen as neither of us in a huge rush. After all, it is summer!

If you want to rewire your own outlets and need some tips, check out this article or grab a book from the library. Be careful that the power is off and remember what I learned in my high voltage class in University: most people who get electrocuted die from the fall, not from the voltage itself. So just make sure that you're on the ground, or put some pillows around to break your fall.

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