Yesterday (I am writing this blog a day late), we spent the day shopping and then went to our daughter’s house to spend Sunday with her family. Michael’s parents and youngest brother also came over to spend the day. We love them dearly and were glad we all could get together.
Christina had previously warned me that she had an electrical project waiting for me. Thus, I had brought my tools and electrical multi-meter with me. As it turned out, the project should have been a simple one of just replacing two switches in the garage with two, new light switch timers. Christina had hopes of using the timers to control the outdoor Christmas Tree lights that they put up each season. Unfortunately, the project ended up being a discovery of bad wiring.
I asked Michael’s dad, Jim, to work with me on this project. I am no fool and knowing that Jim has an electrical engineering background, I knew I was teamed with an expert. As it turns out, we were lucky to have Jim’s involvement.
I took the first timer and opened up the switch panel. There were three switches within the panel with the first two controlling the circuits for the outdoor lights. The wiring to my switch looked as expected and was color coded: red, white, black and green. The wiring of the new timer was similar, with red, white, black and green wires. The replacement of the old switch to the new timer was going to be easy-peasy with just connecting the red to red, white to white, black to black and green to green. With my task done, I turned the project over to Jim who discovered that the second switch was just a switched circuit with only three wires: black, white and green. However, this presented no problem for him as he quickly wired the new timer to control this circuit. We then tested our handiwork, confident that we could button this up once the testing was completed.
Ah, er, um, well…the two outdoor circuits did not work. Oops. We scratched our heads, re-inspected our handiwork and came to the conclusion that we did everything correctly. Then we discovered that the garage GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) button had popped out indicating a fault in one of the circuits. Hmmm.
I maintained that my switch was properly wired and Jim agreed with me. Thus, the problem had to be with Jim’s switch and circuit. Since Jim is more knowledgeable on this subject than I, I excused myself so that he and Christina could deal with this issue and I retired with a beer to play with the three grandkids.
To make a very long story short, after spending almost three hours on this simple project, Jim concluded his circuit was fine but that the house wiring of my circuit was not to code and that the house wires were color coded incorrectly. Thus, my switch as I had wired it, was blowing the GFCI in the garage. In addition to this, a second GFCI was connected to this same circuit and it too was blown. The problem was compounded by that fact that none of us could find this second blown GFCI receptacle. Christina shared with us that they had had a similar problem with finding the various GFCI receptacles throughout the house. To make matters worse, this particular circuit is shared with the thermostat that controls one of the air conditioners for the house. Thus, until the blown GFCI receptacle can be found, a portion of the house is without air conditioning. Ugh! What a mess we have made!
To solve the problem, we all agreed that it would be best for Christina and Michael to call an electrician to discover the blow GFI receptacle and to properly color code the wiring for this circuit. What a day!