If God had wanted homeowners to do electrical work, She wouldn’t have created electricians. Or so you’d figure.
Electricity isn’t something to be taken lightly, and I could feel my muscles contracting and the current zapping through my body when I picked up The List. There it was, in The Bride’s clean script, on the dreaded Chores Galore And More List: Fix the outlet in the kitchen.
That would be the combination switch-outlet for the microwave and garbage disposal. The microwave requires a three-prong outlet, so you jam the plug into one of those beautiful orange adapters and into the outlet and — zap! – it works.
But then you push the microwave against the wall, and the orange adapter eventually crushes the cover plate. It’s sort of like forcing the round peg into the square hole.
All of which leads to chore time. A crushed cover plate is not acceptable, especially when it reveals that the entire old outlet is “gross.”
You call an electrician to do rewiring, to install a ceiling fan maybe, or to do something where you are more than likely to burn down your house and half of Dallas.
But you can’t call in an electrician to replace a switch-outlet. A homeowner has to have some pride. Besides, how difficult can replacing a switch-outlet be? It seems simple enough.
Rule No. 1: Trip the circuit breaker to turn off the power.
Rule No. 2: Because of Rule No. 1, it’s best not to perform this chore at night.
Daylight comes, however, and there’s no more postponing the inevitable. Lighting & Electricity in the Time-Life Books’ “Fix-It-Yourself” series tells all you need to know – if you’re not using it as a coaster for your iced tea.
A screwdriver is mandatory. A champion weightlifter, to pry the switch from the box, is highly recommended. Those wires are like wrestling the creature from “Alien.” Remove the “gross” outlet and replace it with the new one, shove that sucker back in, screw on that shiny cover plate and, six hours later, we’re in business.
Head to the circuit breaker and turn on the power, write out a will in case I’ve done something wrong, and switch on the microwave. Then test the garbage disposal.
Both work, and I’m not fried. I don’t even smell smoke.
Success is a happy feeling. This is easy. Hey, bring on a dimmer switch. Or maybe a ground-fault circuit interrupter. I’m not sure what that is, but it’s in “Lighting & Electricity.” There will be much praise and validation coming from The Bride, which is really what homeownership is all about. But then I realize the truth of the adage: One chore begets more chores.
The clocks, the VCR, the TV, etc., now need resetting. And then there’s more on The List.
Next up: Fix the toilet.
You know, if God had meant for homeowners to do plumbing work, She wouldn’t have created plumbers.