December 6, 2012

Making the Switch... Again

I'm still working on a few more fun projects to share with you, but just so you don't think I'm getting lazy over here, here's a quick description of a rare nap time when both boys were asleep at the same time.  

This switch in the Living Room has always driven me crazy.

The fan remote is for the ceiling fan, the switch on the left is for 1 plug right under our TV, and the one on the right with the dimmer is for the overhead lights to this room.

We don't love them, but we don't have a better solution at this point, so we'll deal for now. I also can't stand looking into my bedroom from the Living Room, but that's another rant for another time.
 So what was the problem?  Well, for some reason the switch for the outlet was also connected to the overhead light switch, so both switches had to be on to make it work.  Also, the switch for the outlet doesn't make sense for us as all we have plugged into this outlet is our TV stuff, and anytime we accidentally turned it off it causes our DirecTV box to reset, which lead to an agonizing 5 minutes of waiting time before you can view Love It or List It or Buying & Selling on HGTV.  Agonizing.

We've always just dealt with it, until the other day I made a crazy discovery. That switch, which we'd been trying not to touch for 18 months, also seems to be connected to the outlets on either side of the fireplace, essentually turning off and on the lamps on the right side of this picture:

 I know what you're thinking, and I swear this never worked before, I checked! But I think when I replaced all the receptacles in the room back here, perhaps maybe I switched out bad receps for good ones, or just wired them correctly.  In either case, this little discovery was a good thing for us, since we definitely prefer the lamps to the search-spot overhead lights, but it always seemed a chore to turn all 4 lamps on, and then back off every night.  #firstworldproblems.

The only bad thing is that the switch controlled not just the bottom outlet for the lamps, but both outlets, making anything else we plugged in there (like our wireless router) turn off each night with the lamps. So during this rare, magical nap time, I consulted my Home Depot 1-2-3 bible.

 Then I shut off the power, and removed the problem.  It's as easy as taking that little brass tab on the sides of the outlet between the screws:

And bending it back and forth with a pliers until it beaks off, like this:

That gives you power to the whole outlet, but the switch controls just one of them.  I put everything back in and turned on the power to check out my progress.  Here the switch (and therefore lamp) is off, but the tester night light is still a rockin':

That's getting a bit too cocky though, because I'm still having a little trouble with the TV situation.  I can't figure out how to make both of these outlets work regardless of the switch.  Since the power comes from the switch I'm not sure it can be done, but I'll keep doing some late night research during feedings and let you know.  For now I've at least plugged the DirecTV box into the one outlet that isn't controlled by the switch so that we don't have any more reset related freakouts.  I'm not naming names...

So if you're wondering why I'm not able to upload post of lots of fun and creative new projects, it's because I keep finding myself using the little bit of extra time I have to fix things.  (The walls in the Nursery, the electrical, the broken dryer vent hose, etc...) And the whole time all I really want to do is lay in the daybed with my baby in my arms and watch the way he seems to cycle through every emotion while he is sleeping, (A smile... a grimace... lower lip quiver... it breaks my heart.) Thankfully we worked our generous-sized tails off before little man got here so that the house is finally starting to feel like a home, and I'm not as anxious to get up and grab the sledgehammer.  Yet...

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