So, we woke up the morning of supersiah’s birthday to find that the lights were not working in the master bath. To make matters worse, our coffee bar was also sin electric, which made sense being right below the master bath – did I mention coffee bar? This wasn’t going to do, especially with all the work required to prep a party for 50+. We moved the keurig and showered in the dark and made do for a day or two until we could get an electrician out.
The above referenced shocks didn’t happen until the electrician threw out a quote with multiple options the first one being several thousand dollars. Well, I about threw him out on his head then the numbers started dropping, and dropping. I accepted the lowest number that was only a small fraction of where he started but limited to fixing the immediate problem only and not the potential related problems.
This left the foofice with a room without electricity… Did I mention that the foofice’s elfice (supersiah’s office) electric stopped simultaneously? I decided I would deal with no computer for supersiah for now and fix it myself later. After a few days of sweating it in the foofice (best ac unit is in elfice), I knew it was time to start working.
I texted both of my brothers (who are both genius with any kind of fix it thing), and my oldest bro to the rescue. He offered to drive up this week and help me but more important coached me and superbry over the phone through text images etc. I figured I would document this fixit in case we come to a similar problem in the future.
I learned from my bro and the electrician that an electric problem usually boils to one of the following possibilities:
- bad circuit breaker
- bad device plugged in (anything from a lightbulb or clothes dryer)
- bad outlet
- bad switch
So rather than spend thousands on a professional fix I figured I would start replacing these old pieces until the problem went away. I bought a little plug from Amazon that finds electric faults etc for about $10. I plugged it in and switched the circuit on. It lit up that everything was normal and then the breaker switched off again – which told me nothing.
BAD DEVICE – The only device that was plugged in was the ac, so I unplugged it and still experienced the breaker trips, so I knew that wasn’t the problem but just in case multiple problems I left it unplugged.
BAD OUTLET – We replaced all the outlets for new outlets since they were all old and falling apart. We bought new outlets for less than a dollar each and the bonus was nice white clean outlets instead of those ugly brown ones. The main thing to know here is 15 or 20 amps. You do not want to go above the amps of your circuit so if you have a 15amp circuit you want a 15amp outlet, but if you have a 20amp circuit you can go 15 or 20 – so 15 works for both and is what we used since the outlets we were replacing said 15amps. We ensured the grounding was connected, no extra loose wires, and made sure everything was tight and closed it back up.
One weird thing that we ran into here was there was this ancient outlet our Home Depot guy said we could not find a similar piece to because there were four in and four out instead of two and two. What was recommended was that we either piggytail the extra wires or (what we did) insert more than one wire into the same screw slot. We initially tried unplugging the extras and capping and taping off, but this clearly broke the circuit because we couldn’t get anything to turn on again until we put the extra cords back into the outlet. So don’t do what we did and take live cables and cap them off – stick them in an available slot or share a slot with another (this works best when it slides under the screw rather than poking into a hole in the back).
Make sure your wires are set the same way the old outlet had them.
BAD SWITCH – We replaced all switches since they were old and falling apart. The switches are also under a dollar at home depot. Again you need to know if you need 15 or 20 but 15 is safe if you have either. The thick wires do not make this easy, but as long as everything is secure – a little pushing and stretching will make it all work. See outlets for similar instructions – plug everything in the way it was and make sure there is grounding. Make sure the switches are in the right direction and there are no crazy loose cables.
One thing we noticed behind the switches was loose uncoated grounding cables. My brother said our whole problem could be that causing some type of leap and fault. So he said to cap them and tape them so we did.
Another thing my brother noticed from my pictures was there was no grounding. So off to Home Depot I went to grab some copper cable (20cents a foot and I only needed a foot or two). I wrapped the copper around a screw in the back and tightened the screw onto it, then connected it to the green screw on the switch and tightened.
BAD CIRCUIT BREAKER – My brother told me not to mess with it. He said I would have to make sure the electric to the foofice was completely off. He says it is super easy but only if you can make sure electric is off. So I went and bought a $5 circuit breaker. I noticed it was GE brand, 20amps, and half an inch – so that was all I needed to know to get the new one. So while our electric problem is resolved without replacing this, I am keeping the breaker around for the next time my bro comes over so he can slide it in for me. In fact at $5 – I might get some extra and replace any that look older. I am amazed that a replacement is literally only five bucks when I spent a couple hundred last year for an electrician to replace one for me.
So that was our story of fixing electric this week. I learned so much and am so happy fixing the above issues took care of our electric issue and saved me over $500 and I spent less than $20 on everything I bought for it and have leftovers. Note that I am nowhere near a professional electrician and if you don’t have a big bro to guide you it might be worth spending crazy amounts of money on a professional so you don’t end up toasted or on fire.