But I try.
I've dropped off the map for the last couple of months while law school picked up and I finished my 2L finals. Then I did a little cross country drive to Raleigh, North Carolina where I'll be spending my summer. But now I'm back and have so many projects to share I can hardly contain my excitement!
As I've mentioned before my mom purchased her retirement home last spring and over the last year my family (but mostly my sister, who currently lives there) have been working to fix it up. Originally it wasn't even livable, but as you might remember from here there's been a lot of progress made. Now that I'm here for the summer I'm pumped to keep working.
I'm not sure I've ever shared a picture of the exterior, but isn't it adorable? I love the rose bushes, so happy and cheerful.
So..on to the point of this post. The house came entirely outfitted with beige/dirty off-white outlets and light switches. Something I probably never would have noticed or cared about but irritated my mom from the get-go. So last summer all of the covers came off while we painted and were never put back on, for the purpose of replacing them with crisp white outlets. But there were so many projects to do that the poor little outlets got overlooked for months. Until I moved in. And my OCD dictated that now that the downstairs is completely painted and all the major renovations are done (for now), it's time to change those old sad outlets out for new shiny ones. So here is what we started with. Sad and ugly right?
First, and most importantly, turn off the electricity. Nobody likes getting electrocuted.
Next, even though you've shut off the electricity, double check with one of these little gadgets. I have no idea what it's called.
If the yellow lights light up electricity is still running to that outlet. So better check your breaker box. This is one situation where no lights is good news. Once you're sure there's no electricity coming your way, yank that outlet out of the wall and see what you're working with.
This particular guy had two wires on one side, two on the other, plus a ground. (I'm sure there are names for all of these things, but clearly I'm not actually an electrician).
Next line up the new outlet next to the old to make sure you connect each wire to the appropriate spot. I'm sure somebody who actually knows what they're doing wouldn't need to do it in such a baby step way, but I had no clue what I was doing and my mom walked me through slowly, which was helpful. One by one I used needle nose pliers to disconnect the wires from the old outlet and reconnect them to the new one, twisting to make sure that when the wire wrapped around it was either completely, or nearly touching the other side of the wire, to ensure a good connection.
See what I mean?
Then I did the other side. This particular outlet had a ground, which is the blue screw, but according to my mom and sister not all of the outlets they've encountered have a ground.
When you're all done, shove the wires back in and screw the face plate back on. Definitely not the flashiest of projects, but I was still pretty darn proud of myself. Next on my list? Replacing a 3 way light switch.
So this is what I started with. I basically followed my same pattern, pulled that puppy out of the wall and slowly went wire by wire.
Eventually I got it all done and was so proud of myself. I flipped the switch. Nothing. I was expecting an angel chorus to appear and herald my accomplishment as the bulb turned on. But nothing. No angels. No chorus. No light turning on. So I climbed the stairs to see if the switch at the top of the stairs would turn the light on, just to check that we had actually switched the right breaker when we turned on the electricity. Boom. Light. So I clearly did something wrong, got the wires mixed up. I unscrewed everything, pulled the switch out and investigated.
Something you might notice in the above picture (that I did not) is that there is a red wire and a black wire. And a black screw and a gold screw. I attached the red wire to the black screw and the black wire to the gold screw. Wrong. Black wire goes to black screw. Surprise! And once I made that switch--voila! light. Still no angels. But I'll take what I can get.
While it's definitely a tiny tweak, I definitely get why the beige outlets drove my mom crazy. Having a whole house of crisp, clean white outlets and switches makes the whole house feel brighter and more put together. (And definitely more put together than a bunch of outlets without covers!)
During the process my mom looked over and said "Doesn't it feel good that you can do this on your own? Imagine how much it would cost to have an electrician come do something so simple?" And you know what? She was right. Even thought it took me half an hour to do what an electrician could do in 5 minutes, I didn't have to call one. There's some serious sense of accomplishment from being able to do these little projects without help.
So what have you all been up to? Any great projects? Or even just a little something that pays dividends in your confidence?