Monday, October 18, 2010

Circuit Overload! Adding Basic Electrical Skills to Our Renovation Resume

Surprise, surprise, something bad and inconvenient happened in our old house... electrical issues.  Alex and I are total DIY-ers, but there are two things that bring us slight fear when working with- Plumbing and Electrical.  Basic plumbing and electrical installation is no problem (like a sink, toilet, or light fixture).  But troubleshooting a mystery electrical problem is pretty scary.

We found this super helpful site called The Circuit Detective and after a little research, Alex was able to determine that the problem was a tripped GFCI outlet due to circuit overload. Who knew that running a sawzall through a kitchen outlet would be a bad idea? Turns out that when a circuit runs with a heavy load for too long the GFCI will trip because it can't determine if the power surge is being caused by a short or water hazard. It's a great safety feature, but it put three power outlets, two recessed lights and a dishwasher out of order (when the dishwasher is down in our house, it becomes top priority to get it fixed!)

NOTE: Even though the outlets weren't working, they were still hot! After Alex got a few good jolts and a tingle coursing through his hand and arm, we decided it was time to kill the power......I'd suggest you do the same if you tackle any electrical work.

Alex removed the faceplate and exposed the wires. He paid close attention to the schematics of the wiring and carefully removed the old tripped outlet
He made sure to check all of the load connections that will be running from the new GFCI and made any necessary connection improvements (a few were loose). 

With the connections re-established he was then ready to wire in the new outlet
Once the wires were properly attached and the power restored, the tell-tale light in the corner let us know that the system/GFCI was installed correctly and once again protecting our kithen outlets.
Once the power got started again, Alex moved on to fixing the dishwasher.  We had to pull out the dishwasher to disconnect the power when Alex fixed the electricity.  While pulling it out, the water supply line kinked near one of the fittings which resulted in a leak (of course). So then we had to get a new one and install it.  Good times.

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