Switch Switch - I Think It Works
Last week I changed out a receptacle after remembering that J and I put a dimmer on the switch connected to the garbage disposal!
Since we were nowhere near having a working sink and disposal at the time we realized that's what the switch went to, we just left it. But now I'm close - so close - to having a fully functioning kitchen, that I thought I better change it.
I can't help but sing the old Schoolhouse Rock cartoon about electricity: "Electricity. E-Lectricity. It's Powerful stuff so watch that plug."
Makes me a little nervous - as it should I guess. I went about handling this task on a Friday before heading out with my Mom, Jess and Kate and their moms to a wine and painting party. I was determined to tackle something in the condo after work, after a run and before going out.
I turned off the power and tested it with my non-contact voltage tester - Jess's husband Chris advised me which one to buy. Um - it was still on! I turned off everything in the kitchen and living room and tested again. No power. Phew.
I got out my handy rechargeable-battery-operated flash light that came with my cordless drill and took the cover plate off. I studied the existing receptacle - hoping this would be easy as my first one since J had many months ago pulled out the old one and figured out the wiring to put in the pretty black switch - it was just the wrong pretty black switch.
Hmmm, I thought as I sat atop my plywood counter top staring at the wires and my "Wiring" book. B walked in about the time I started this - perhaps mildly entertained that I was standing in shorts and Ugg boots, leaving over the plywood trying to figure this out., seeming unconcerned I was dealing with electrical components and never doubting I could do it. That boosted my confidence and made me more determined to figure it out.
The switch I took out had wires coming from it while the switch I was putting in had none. One wire the switch connected to inside the box was green - the ground wire - and there were two red ones! The book said one was supposed to be white and one black. Head scratching.
The ground wire was frayed so I needed to cut off the end and strip some of the rubber casing to exposed more wire. I had just purchased wire strippers suspecting I might need them. The only problem of course was that I didn't know how to use them - I kept cutting through the wire and started to worry that I was going to make it too short to use. B said he thought you were supposed to gently twist around the wire then pull off the rubber. Oh yeah - I do remember seeing that or maybe even doing that a couple of times when hooking up stereo speakers a gazillion years ago. So that worked!
Next I used needle nose pliers to bend the wire around the ground wire screw on the receptacle.
But what about these other wires?! I did the same with those and wrapped around the live screws hoping I had the correct wire on the correct screw.
Meanwhile, I was talking aloud about what I was doing and thinking. B said from the couch, "If I weren't here, would you still be talking out loud?"
"Of course I would!"
"OK, moment of truth," I said, ready to flip the circuit breaker and see if my switch switchery worked. Then it dawned on me - I had no way of testing whether the switch worked because the garbage disposal was still in a box on the floor and neither that nor the sink were hooked up.
D'oh! Well that was kind of a waste of time. I certainly could have chosen a project that had immediate impact.
Such a Kyle thing to do.
At least I have tried out the new tools and I know how to fix the problem if when I finally hook up the disposal (or plumber Chuck does - hopefully this week), it doesn't work. Or at least I think I do.
And because I know you have the song in your head, here you go.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLuPNThw0RE
Dimmer not needed for garbage disposal!
|Essentials: basic switch, wiring picture-book|
|Handy life-saving voltage tester|
|Switch in place!|
|Can't turn it on from here|
Apparently , someone was overzealous about adding dimmers.