January 31st, 2014

Shocked! I'm Shocked, I Tell You!

Actually, the whole idea was not to get shocked -- and at that, I succeeded admirably. The rest of the project, well, it succeeded eventually.

We had noticed that one of the GFCI outlets in the bathroom was popping for some unknown reason. This was baffling, but we were able to reset it, so we kept scratching our heads.

We stopped scratching our heads when I turned on the switch for the can light over the bathtub and it didn't come on and the GFCI outlet in the same receptacle with the switch popped. Aha! Oh, no.

See, if the can light was shot, this was going to be annoying to replace. But we'd already had to replace the other of the original GFCI outlets in that bathroom, so there was some reasonable chance that the outlet had just gone to pot. And that was much easier to deal with.

In theory.

I picked up a new GFCI outlet, a new dual throw switch, and a new cover plate at Home Depot today, along with a new LED bulb for the can light. The recessed fixture is annoyingly hard to get at, so I figured let's put something in there that would last for a while, with any luck.

After work this evening, I set out to rewire it. I shut down the office, because it's on the same circuit as the bathroom -- a wiring decision that we will correct someday -- and then daisy_knotwise went to the basement to throw the breaker. And the lights in the bathroom went out.

So far, so good. I confirmed that the power was out with my multimeter and unwired the switch and the outlet.

The wiring was -- creative. Creative is a good word. The switch had been wired backwards as nearly as I could tell, so I reversed it and wired it correctly. The GFCI outlet that was in there had the line and load sections exactly reversed from the new outlet that I'd just bought, but that wasn't too hard to sort out.

And eventually, I got it all rewired. Gretchen threw the breaker and I confirmed that we had light. Unfortunately, the GFCI outlet needed to be reset and I didn't want to mess with it until it was in the wall. So Gretchen opened the breaker and I put the outlet in the wall.

Incorrectly. I had to replace the original screws with longer ones, since the outlet and switch are installed over tile. In the general lack of light -- I was working with bleed from the bedroom and, later, a flashlight that Katie brought me -- I put the screw in the wrong hole. Unsurprisingly, things didn't fit.

I grabbed the lamp from the bedroom, plugged it into an extension cord, and brought it into the bathroom. Now I had enough light to see what I was doing, so when I removed the screw, I could see that I had well and truly stripped it.

Of course, I didn't have a spare screw.

So I went down and ate dinner and set out for Home Depot to buy four replacement screws (because spares are good). When I got home, I went upstairs and put everything back together properly. Gretchen threw the breaker and there was light.

And it was good. Or something like that.

After the girls go to bed, I will take off my socks and shoes and mount up on the edge of the tub and install the new LED bulb in the can fixture. And if everything works, I will be able to declare victory.

*sigh* A two-tripper for lack of a screw. It figures.