Monthly Archives: December 2013

Installing an inlet; wiring an oulet

What a difference a pill makes. In spite of a cold wet day, I managed to get some work done.

First up on the chopping block: an alternative to running an extension cord through an open window.

I bought a weatherproof “inlet” for the side of the house. An inlet is like an outlet, but it has three prongs instead of three holes. Since I don’t know the professional way to complete most tasks, I had to piece together a plan from Youtube videos and bits of forum threads. Mix that information with some common sense, and you’re ready for tools.

15mg of borrowed Adderall worked like a charm. Without it, I’d be muttering and cussing. A project like this might bring me close to tears. With it, I’m focused. I know my methods are cobbled together and inefficient, but isn’t that the nature of all self-directed learning?

I slipped a Sharpie out of my pocket, and traced a circle around the guts of the inlet. The circle was two inches in diameter, and I only had a 5/8″ bit. Not to be slowed down, I drilled several little holes instead. I retrieved my new Rotozip to clean it up. The Rotozip didn’t like my siding too much, so I walked back through the snow once more to retrieve a jigsaw. Better. I only had to hack away for another five minutes to get a good fit for the inlet’s guts.

Any person with skill or experience would be done by now. I was still getting started.

From the outside, I ran my 5/8″ bit up at a slight angle, and towards the general area where I wanted to install an outlet inside. The bit broke through the drywall pretty close to where I was aiming. Close enough, anyway – and I allowed myself a wide margin of error.

The next task was to install a plastic outlet receptacle on the inside wall. The Rotozip was right at home for this part. I Sharpie’d around the box, plunged the Rotozip’s bit through the drywall, and found almost immediately that I had traced the box over a stud. That’ll need to be touched up. I traced again, and cut out a rectangle the size of the box. The size was about right, but the depth was about a quarter inch shallow.

Here’s where I started getting fancy.

I used a big flathead screwdriver to slash a bunch of shallow grooves into the foam board insulation. I clawed the insulation out with my fingernails and the flathead blade until the box fit. I know there was a better way, but sometimes the best way ends up being any way that doesn’t stop the project. The box fit.

But I wasn’t done yet.

This type of receptacle – the blue plastic type – attaches to a stud with two pre-installed 3″ nails that are at an angle nearly perpendicular to the face of the box. Maybe a 15 degree angle. The box itself fit the hole, but the nails did not. Even if the nails did fit into the recess I’d carved out – how could I pound them in without cutting out way more drywall?

I cannot recommend this solution, but it worked:

I used the Rotozip to carve out two extended recessed lines where the nails could be nested. The receptacle and the nails were now recessed in the wall where I wanted them – but how could I pound in the nails? I walked through the snow again to retrieve a nail set. A nail set is used to push the head of a nail neatly flush with a surface without damaging the surrounding material. In my case, I eyeballed the angle of the nail and estimated where the nail set could go to line up with the head. Then I jammed the tip of the nail set through the drywall at an angle, and forced it to line up with the head of the nail. This took minor violence. I pounded the nails in using the nail set jammed through the surrounding drywall at a shallow angle. It worked.

I can probably fill the hack-job drywall damage with some spackle – much easier than patching. My drywall job is far from pro, but it looks alright with paint on it. You can see all the joints and a good percentage of the screw heads, but I’ve moved beyond caring about that. I can hang drywall, but it’s going to have some character.

I walked through the snow again, and took a fifteen minute break to review outlet wiring. Brass = hot; silver = neutral; green = ground. I got a clean scrap of Romex, stripped the three wires on one side, and with inefficient meticulousness, I attached the wires in a correct and respectable manner. I slipped the wires into the wall-hole from the outside, and attached the cover plate of the inlet making sure the waterproof gasket was evenly compressed against the siding. I moved inside, stripped the other end of the Romex, and attached the wires to their corresponding outlet screws.

A careful idiot could do this. A careless idiot might get injured, but a careful idiot will do just fine. Double check your work, and plug in something you don’t care about. I had no issues. Now I can plug an extension cord into the outside of my house, and the outlet on the inside will have power. The battery charger is always plugged in – so when you plug in the extension cord, you are “plugging in the house.” I love it.

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