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They Call Me Sparky.

April 17, 2012

Okay, so no one really calls me that.  It’s an inside joke between my father and I when we do electrical work!  Our house, which was built in 1964 is littered with these really dated almond color receptacles.

Nothing says “I was built in 1964” more than these ugly outlets.  It’s been on the list for about 6 years to to replace, but like many things we’ve just never got around to it.   Several of them have cracks (like the one above) and they all are covered in 60 years of dirt and grime.  Who wants to live with other people’s grime?  Not me.   We are not completely lazy though.  We’ve replaced a bunch of the outlets as we’ve worked on the house.  Our master bedroom, master bath, upstairs hall bath, and kitchen were all replaced when we gutted each one.  That leaves our living room, dining room, office, and basement in need of a little switch-out…pun intended, haha.  At Home Depot, I picked up several contractor packs of plugs,switches, and covers to get started.

Ninka made sure to sniff out my purchases before I started.  First and most importantly, I turned off the power to each room before I attempted to stick a metal screwdriver into all that wiring.  When working on electrical always make sure to use rubber handle screwdrivers.  It’s suppose to prevent getting a shock if the outlet happens to be ‘hot’.  I triple checked each receptacle with a volt meter to make sure the power was truly off on each outlet.

Many women may think this is a “mans” project, but let me be honest, it’s really very simple.  The most terrifying part is getting electrocuted (which is pretty scary), but if you triple check to make sure the power is off, it really is just a matter of screwing down a few wires.  I would never try re-wiring a house, that’s something left to the professionals, but changing out a few outlets is easy-peasy.  Once I knew the power was off I started to unscrew the outlet cover and receptacle.

Ryan attempted to scare me several times.  All stealth-like, he would come behind me, shake me, and make a jolt noise…what an a$$!

With a few screws removed I was able to pull the wiring out of each box.  White wire were on the right and black wire on the left.  I carefully unscrewed each side.

After the outlet was removed I was left with a metal box of wires that looked like this.  The black wire is the ‘hot’ wire and the white is the neutral.

I made sure to remember which wires wrapped around each screw on the outlet box.  They are labeled brass and silver.  The black ‘hot’ wire wraps around the brass screw and the neutral wraps around the silver.  After getting the raw wires wrapped around each respective screw I used my rubber handled screwdrivers to secure them down.

When each new white outlet was wired up correctly I was able to push it back into it’s electrical box.  These old wires were really stiff so it took me a bit more than am little push to get them into them home.

Each outlet has two screws, one at the top and one at the bottom which secures it to the box inside the wall.

If you have outlets that work on a light switch (we have a few) there is a metal ‘bridge’ between the two screws.  This bridge has to be removed with a pair of wire cutters/dikes.   It breaks right off.

After the wires were connected and screwed back in, I replaced the outlet cover….and Voila!

Not so hard, now is it?!  Anyone can do it with a little patience.  I am completely thrilled with how they look.  Who knew a little white receptacle could put such a big smile on my face?  Bye, bye almond, hello crisp clean white!


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