People often ask me, about the numerous toys I buy for myself, whether I have been getting any use out of them. And until now, my typical answer has simply been, that ‘I have no projects right now,’ meaning No.
Well as of today I have a project, in an unexpected field: Home Hardware.
The previous owners of my Condominium had put screwless faceplates on many of their wall-switches, and additionally, had it as part of their preferences, for some of their wall-outlets to be switched off from these switches. This included one outlet into which I had later started plugging an air-conditioner, which meant that every time my then-girlfriend absentmindedly operated the wall switch, she would turn my A/C off for 5 seconds, and then – oops – turn the current back on. Most technically-inclined people understand, that this is just about the worst thing anybody can do to an A/C, and worse, I hate wall-outlets that are controlled by switches.
So what I did years ago, was just to duct-tape this switch into the ‘On’ position, so that when my girlfriend saw the duct tape she would have to remove first, she also stopped tripping the A/C.
But that was an ugly solution. What I had always meant to do in the back of my mind, was to remove that wall-switch completely, and to wire the leads to be permanently On. I planned to put a blank faceplate where the wall-switch faceplate was. But I had always put off the chore of carrying out this project.
Just today I felt it was time to get started with that. And so the first thing I did for now, was to remove the faceplate.
There exist screwless faceplates which have a trick to remove mechanically. But apparently, despite my best efforts, I was only able to wedge this one off, after applying enough force to destroy it. So I am committed to completing this project.
I also made sure to know which breaker in the panel corresponds to that switch.
And, I measured a few voltages, with switches in different positions, just to confirm what I could see visually, about how the wires run.
It is a faux-pas, to connect wires deliberately, but mistakenly in a wrong way.
Also, the duct tape I had been using extended past the edges of the old faceplate, meaning that over the years, gunk from the duct tape had become attached to the wall around the faceplate. So what I have also gotten off the table this morning, was just to repaint a small patch of my bedroom wall, around that opening, where the wall-switch used to be. The correct time to do that, is before installing a new faceplate.
Now my plan of action is, to take the actual switch out, and to twist the 3 phase-wires together. But, because my home has solid copper wires, doing so by itself would not ensure good contact. So what I plan to do after that, is additionally to solder the phase wires, using my soldering gun. And only then do I plan to put an electrical cap on the result.
Then I will reapply house-current, and hope that sparks and fire do not erupt from the breaker-panel, and test the wall-outlet voltages again.
Last of all, I plan to screw in a new, blank faceplate.
What I still need to buy:
- Large desoldering pump.
- Wire-Stripper that I do not really think I need.
- Additional cleaning pads for a soldering-iron.
- Electrical wiring caps.
- Finally, the new faceplate.
From the above, items 2 and 3 are not needed for this project, but may generally augment my equipment.
Item 5 may actually wait until a later date, as long as after step 4 the wires are all tucked in and everything works.