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electrical outlets and switches

Thursday, August 08, 2013

I am slowly changing out the outlets and switches in my house. It is taking longer than I thought it would. I tackle one room maybe once per month if not longer. Even worse is that some of my first attempts resulted in the switches being installed upside down. It works, but it's backwards as far as the on/off operation. (Right, I didn't read the instructions.) At some point I will back track and fix them right side up.

Today I tackled the kitchen. I learned that the kitchen electricals are on three separate breakers: one for the lights, one for the outlets by the stove, one for the outlet by the sink, and one for the garbage disposer & dishwasher switches.

Changing out the light switch was easy enough. Changing out the outlets were a huge pain. The wires were extraordinarily tough to manuever, plus I am having to reach across a counter. I changed out three outlets when I had a realization: except for the lights, all the other breakers involved were 20 Amp breakers. Every switch and outlet I purchased were rated 15A. Arrrgghh! The safety margins are probably sufficient to leave it alone, but I prefer the margins provided by 20A outlets and switches. With the wires being so difficult to work with, I'm guessing that they are larger wires and therefore have been sized to handle 20A.

So I will be undoing my work in the future. Fortunately, we're not using those outlets much right now. A toaster on one, a night light and under counter light on another. I don't have transportation today, so I can't just run out and get my replacements. I think the local store has the gray outlets I want. I'll probably stick with the toggle switches for the diswasher and garbage disposer, though I'll change to gray ones.

So... The breakers for your kitchen are probably the 20A ones. And if you're changing out the outlets and switches, check to see if they should be rated for 20A (matching the breaker), even if your current ones are not. No need to risk an electrical fire. And of course, turn off the breakers, verify no power to your outlets and switches before you begin work on them.