Electrifying

 

Sunday I worked on the wiring upstairs, mostly because Saturday’s experience with the leveling compound scared me off of doing any “real” work. I thought I’d take it easy by trying to get some power upstairs.

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Every time I wire (or plumb or do anything for that matter), I’m always adjusting my philosophies. That basically means that I do it the opposite of the way I did it the time before, because “that way sucked.” Anyway, my current mantra on electrical is to use lots of handy boxes to tie things together. So, what you’re looking at here are my two main upstairs boxes, the top for the lighting and the bottom for the outlets. We’ve already established that I’m a little obsessive-compulsive about wiring, so junction boxes give me the freedom to defer the “tough decisions,” such as how many circuits do I want? The ridiculous part is that I can always predict the answer up front…as many as possible, of course. Having lived in too many old houses with poor wiring, I have a personal goal of NEVER tripping a breaker. Barring an AFCI breaker that seemed overly sensitive to our TV (it would often trip a few seconds after we turned the TV off), I’ve succeeded in that goal. So, in a situation where most people would run one or two circuits for a couple of kids’ bedrooms, I have run 5, and that’s not counting the smoke detector circuit. Each bedroom gets its own circuit, as does the main room and the bathroom. The lights are also on their own, as they should be. Nothing is more annoying than being in the dark when a breaker trips. The one concession I made was that I did keep myself talked down to 15A circuits this time, instead of 20A (except the bathroom). Now whether that was due to my realization that I would be unlikely to ever run a table saw or air compressor in a finished bedroom or the fact that copper wiring prices tripled between the time I did our downstairs or upstairs is a secret that will go with me to my grave.

Anyway, enough philosophizing. Working a short day, I was able to run my 5 lines down to the basement and tie them into the breaker box and my handy boxes. Nothing is connected yet, but once switches are installed, we’ll have lights! Of course, finishing the wiring is going to take me forever, because I came to the sad realization this weekend that I have to install 24! outlets, 15 switches, 9 sconces, 4 closet lights and 5 each of TV, network and phone jacks. They seem so easy when you’re installing boxes, then later feel like torture when you’re installing all the components. The most ridulous part is that there’s no way we’re going to let Chloe (or the baby) have their own TV, so my “future-proofing” was a little overkill. And who puts outlets in closets? I don’t even remember doing that…someone must have sneaked upstairs and done it while I was at work!

I also wanted to put in a “plug” for my favorite must-have invention, the little splice connectors made by Ideal. You can pick these up at Home Depot, and they are about 1,000x nicer to use than the colored wire nuts that have been around since the Middle Ages. If you haven’t seen these before, take a look at the picture. They are mechanical splices contained in little plastic packages. After stripping the end of a wire, you just plug it into the connector. There is a mechanism inside that locks the wire in, and it won’t come out no matter how hard you pull on it. To add another wire to the splice, just plug it in. They come in a variety of sizes, from 2 holes to 5, and if you need more, you can simply connect two together. You can finally stop suppressing all those memories you have of taking apart a 4 wire splice to add a 5th and then not be able to get them all locked in by the wire nut. Another big plus is that if you have done your wiring in sections (i.e. half of a room on a single feeder), you can plug the sections in as you complete them, since you never have to expose a live connection with these things. If you’ve done it the old fashioned way, these things are a joy to work with.

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