I have wall plugs in my office that are so loose, when I plug something into them, the cord literally falls out. An electrician replaced one of them and I decided to do the other two. (First stupid thought.)
At lunch time today, I decided to replace the one plug that I looked at last night. Nobody else was home and my office was light enough to see with the lights off, so I flipped the breaker off and took the plug apart. I was expecting to see two white wires and two black wires. I as I pulled the plug out, I saw two white wires on one side and two black wires on the other. It's all good.
I loosened the four screws and...DOH! The plug came out and I noticed two wires had been shoved into the back of the plugs, thus making six wires instead of four. I was not able to shove the two wires into the back of my new plug, so 30 minutes later it was time to get back to work and I still was not done. I put wire plugs and electrical tape on the wires to make it "safe", flipped the breaker back on so everybody would have power when they came home, and I left.
When I came home from work, the kitchen light over the stove was on, but the one over the table was not. Amanda was doing homework in the living room. I knew something was not right. It seems the wires that were shoved into the back of that plug I took out were "hot" and the wires going out of the plug passed along that power to most of my office, the kitchen light over the table and all the electricity in Amanda's room. Now I had to get the plug fixed!
A brief call to an electrician friend helped me get the plug back in the wall, all wired correctly. Then I shut off ALL brain function and made the decision to change out the combination switch/plug in my bathroom while I had the electricty turned off. Rather than tell the story in real time (which would take an hour and a half, no exaggeration), let me give you the highlights:
- There were no brown switch/plug combinations at the hardware store so I got a white one knowing it would not look as good, but it would be ok. DUH! Look at the picture above. I forgot there was another brown switch on the same wall. Talk about looking stupid!!
- I took the switch/plug out of the wall and made a careful mental note how it was wired. It was not possible to wire the new one the same way.
- Wired the switch/plug and turned the breaker on. It IMMEDIATELY flipped back off. "Something must not be right".
- Rewired the switch/plug and turned the breaker on. The plug worked great. Turned the switch on to turn on the light and CLICK...threw the breaker again.
- Called electrician friend...not home. Left message.
- Short time later, Dad calls (had left message for him earlier).
- In just one hour and ten minutes he walked me through wiring the switch/plug over the phone. I had to get another piece of wire and connect two screws on opposite sides of the switch/plug thingy. There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING intuitive about that. Who would know to do that?