Part of the entertainment of kitchen renovation has been the removal and replacement of much of the electrical equipment in said kitchen.  The fan/light fixture has already been recounted but wait, there’s more.

In the typical North American kitchen, there are several outlets.  These often have coffee makers or microwaves or toasters plugged into them.  One lucky outlet might serve to power the refrigerator or a chest freezer.  These are not significant electrical loads as it is pretty rare, in a non-commercial kitchen, to run more than one or perhaps two appliances at the same time.

The former owners of our house must have run three toasters constantly or perhaps had an industrial-grade coffee urn or two on the go at all hours of the day and night.  Where a typical kitchen would be served by perhaps two circuit breakers, ours dwells in the happy land of at least five.  We only have 6 outlets!  Further complicating matters is the fact that the breaker panel continues in its obstinate refusal to be adequately labelled or, in many cases, to be labelled at all.

Allergic as I am to death by electrocution, I enlisted Amy’s help in the tried and true method of circuit testing.  I plugged a lit lamp into the outlet and had her holler down the stairs to me as I switched breakers on and off.  We repeated this pattern several times to ensure that I wouldn’t go through the rest of my life looking like Eraserhead.

In the relatively recent past, our kitchen had new tile backsplashes and new cabinets installed.  The brave soul who installed the tile didn’t go to any kind of trouble with the lightswitches and outlets.  He (or, I suppose, she, though I hardly like to think of women as capable of this depth of idiocy) just slapped the tile over top of the boxes and then, as near as I can tell, broke through to find them and then attached the equipment any way he could.  All of the boxes are between 1/4” and 1/2” deeper into the wall than they ought to be for ease of attaching the outlet or switch.

There is a convention when wiring (or so I had previously believed) that some extra length of wire be coiled into the box to make later replacements easier.  This, too, seems to have passed our intrepid “electrician” by.  In all cases, the wires were long enough to pull the switch/outlet out of the box and that was about it.  It was a challenge to make anything work, but in the end, I persevered and overcame. 

The oddest thing (in a kitchen and indeed a house full of oddities) was the switch/outlet combination beside the sink.  Based on the prior experience, I didn’t trust that the switch and outlet would be on the same circuit so I opted to turn power off to the entire house for the time of replacement rather than run that particular risk.  I feel I was justified and the resetting of all the clocks was a minor secondary task.

one shot, one opportunity