Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day electrical work

What could be more fun on Mother's Day than a little mother-son electrical work?

I wanted a timer switch on the fan in the bathroom (most of my family hates the sound of the fan running, so we don't use the fan while we shower.  But if we could leave it on for 10 minutes after the shower is over, we'd save ourselves a lot of mold grief.  Hence, a timer switch seems like a prudent idea).

And of course, J-son loves to be the technical expert of the house.  So for Mother's day, he learned how to switch off circuit breakers.

Once we'd turned the power off, we removed the switch plate.  It's good to do this in daylight (since, of course, the electricity is off, so no lights, so sorry for the blurriness). It also helps to bring along a flashlight or lantern because those little electric boxes are tiny and dark).

Next, we removed the switch that controls the fan.

Here's the out-going electrical switch, pulled out of the box.

In some switches (like our out-going one), the wire is curled around the copper screw.  In some switches (like our ingoing one), the wire sticks straight into a slot. So J-son got to straighten the ends of the wires with a pair of needle-nose pliers.

He attached the wires to the new switch, and screwed the new switch in.

(Optional step:  Then realize that the new switch is so much bigger than the old one that the wires behind it take up so much space that you have to rearrange them.  Take out the new switch, rearrange the wires, and sigh with relief as everything slides correctly into place.  Screw in the new switch again).

From there, it was a simple matter to get the switch-plate back on and add the timer plate on top.  Voila!

For me, it was fun to watch J-son grow more adept -- learning to steady the screws with his thumb as he started them in, getting a sense of the tools he was using.  I also had fun anticipating what lay ahead.  "I'll get a lantern," I'd say, and he'd say "No, I'm good.  I can see!"  (But then a little bit later, he'd ask, "Could you hold that light up here?")  Or I'd say, "I'm going to get a smaller screwdriver," and he'd say, "No, this one works fine.  I don't need a smaller screwdriver!" (But then a little bit later, I was the nurse next to the surgeon, helping him alternate between the two screwdrivers and the pliers, handing him what he needed as he asked for it).

It was a 30-minute task, maybe 40 minutes when we included getting out and putting away the tools.  Just about perfect amount of time for a 17-year old boy to spend with his mom.  As he left, he showed me the picture of the girl he's been spending time with.  

Hmm . . . maybe she'd like to learn how to replace a leaky U-trap under a sink?  I should have him invite her over!

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