Tuesday, July 24, 2018

New Video! How To Replace Wall Plugs & Light Switches

Hi guys!

John and I are back from MetroCon (which went SO much better, stay tuned for photos!) with another home remodeling video, this time on how to replace your old wall plugs and light switches. Whether you're doing this purely for looks or because you have some wonky outlets that don't always connect right, this is an easy upgrade for older houses.

Note I'm not changing any wiring around in this video; I'm only swapping out old plugs and switches for new ones. If you need to add or move anything, call in a professional. But if you're like me and are just looking to swap them out, then here's how:


Safety PSA: Be sure you have that voltage detector on hand to verify there is no power in the wires before you touch anything. This is very important, gang. Especially in older homes, where the breaker box alone should not be trusted. Always double check with a tester! You can grab one at any hardware store for around $10.


Edited To Add: Someone asked about those metal side tabs on the wall plugs: those connect the top and bottom of the outlet, making them one circuit. If the tabs are broken then there are two circuits happening. Regardless, just make your new plug match the old, and you'll be fine. (John tells me in some funky situations only one of the two tabs is broken - again, just make it match. Assuming your old plug worked correctly, then so will the new one.)


Our remodel is humming along, and I hope to have a walk-through update soon, along with a quick look at how John and I did the drywall - from studs to texture - all by ourselves. It was extra work not hiring anyone, but we saved ourselves over a thousand dollars. And I gotta say, it looks good! Like, almost professional good! It's so satisfying tackling something we said we'd never try again, and realizing it wasn't quite as scary as we thought.

I've been watching your feedback, and I'm hoping to shoot the following videos going forward. Tell me what I'm missing, k?

- How to paint trim next to carpet/paint trim in general
- How to install laminate flooring
- How to replace sink faucets & toilets
- How to replace a chandelier/ceiling light fixture
- How to patch a hole in drywall
- How to install new interior doors (This one's especially difficult, so I still have to convince John you guys are up for it, ha.)

And finally, though I'm not sure how we'll film it - maybe just a talking heads/podcast style? - we've been asked about how to budget and plan a whole house renovation. This would include a full price breakdown of what we've spent and where we shop to get the best deals, how we prioritize, and when to hire a professional versus trying to DIY. I'm pretty excited about this one, just have to figure out how to keep it interesting and as brief as possible, since I know I tend to talk a LOT in these videos.

Stay tuned for more convention photos, and a report from MetroCon!

35 comments:

  1. Awesome vid! Thanks! What do you do if the current outlet is otherwise fine, but the cover doesn't sit flush to the wall when screwed in? Is it safe to go in and try to mush the outlet further in, or is it a box problem?

    Loving all the tips!

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    1. Sure thing, kill the power and then see if you can tighten the plug down further to the box. If the box itself is sticking out too far, then you may be out of luck - depends how well it's attached to the stud. You can try pushing the box in a little if it seems loose, but don't force anything.

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    2. I'm excited to try! Thanks!

      I want to add my vote for a door tuturial. No joke, most of the doors in my house don't sit well in the frames anymore. >.<

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    3. Our doors aren't hanging well either. We ended up gluing toothpicks into the stripped screw holes so we could "rehang" our hollow bathroom door, but that's not going to work with our heavy real-wood exterior door [it's so bad we can't even use it right now]. :-C

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  2. I would love to see a video on tiling if possible! I have dreams of re-doing a bathroom(or at least installing a really nice back-splash in my kitchen), and having one of your guys' awesome tutorials would be a huge help!

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    1. We're still debating adding a tile backsplash in the kitchen. If we do, then we'll definitely film it!

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  3. Yes, very much the testing of voltage before work. I know a guy who was replacing the wiring of his house, and found that with every single breaker and fuse in THREE boxes flipped and pulled, every light in the house was still on.

    Also, the testing of voltage AFTER work, to make sure you haven't put the ground where the hot should be or given one outlet two hots, or whatever... Not blowing up your TV is a good thing.

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  4. I have a suggestion! What about...how to deal with nail pops (both innie and outie ones). This might pair nicely with the "How to patch drywall" suggestion.

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  5. Love these! hack suggestion for those with bad memories (been there): when i have to remember how something looked (like which wire went where), i take a quick 'before' snap on my cell phone so i don't have to second guess myself later.

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  6. Thank you for this! I am great with plumbing, but electricity makes me nervous. What do the tabs on the sides do? You stated they needed to match.

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    1. The tabs connect the top & bottom outlet, making them one circuit. So if the tab is broken, you have two separate circuits in your wiring. (And sometimes people do funky things that requires one broken tab and one whole one.) Just make the new one match the old, and - assuming the old one worked - you'll be fine.

      Thanks for asking; I should have explained that in the video. I'll go add a quick explanation in the post. :)

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  7. What do you do if the tabs on your old outlet are broken..? Should you break the new ones?

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    1. Was coming to ask this same question!

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    2. Ah sorry I didn't specify - yes, you should! Make them match the old outlet.

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  8. Suggestion for a video -- I'd love to see how y'all clean your paintbrushes. I know that shouldn't be the hard part (soap, water, go), but husband and I are redoing an old house and trashing paintbrushes at an alarming rate.

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    1. Ahh, that's a good one. It takes longer than you'd expect, but worth it for good quality brushes. I'll stick it on the list - even if we just tack it on to one of the painting vids.

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  9. I'd like to see tutorials on replacing interior doors, and how to fix or replace tile.

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  10. Please add to your tutorials: How to fix a lamp with a new lamp kit (or how to make something that isn't a lamp into a lamp).

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    1. Oooh, John's been planning this one for a while, since he made my favorite lamp out of an old candlestick. I'll bump it up the list!

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  11. Excellent topic all right, and you've covered it well. Good job explaining those side tabs.

    In the last 12 months I've replaced most of the outlets (and many switches) in 3 houses, and I definitely got faster as I progressed. The use of a power screwdriver made it fairly quick and easy, though I did reuse the original hooked wires around the screws on the new outlets. I just power-unscrewed the wires from the old outlets and kept going until the screws came completely out. (Only the grounding screw wouldn't come out easily, so I left most of them on.) A ~$20 power drill-driver from Harbor Freight works great. Then I used needle nosed pliers to bend the old wires to fit on the new outlets, and power-screwed them down.

    Those "backstabber" outlets were a product of the 1960s, and not highly regarded as I recall. My 1950 house didn't have them, nor my 1984 or 1996 house, thank goodness. That meant that I didn't have to strip all those wires, just reuse the old ones.

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  12. Thank you so much! Add one more "yes please" to "sink faucets and toilets." I need to get over my fear of plumbing.

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  13. Goooooooo, Jen! *cheering with pom-poms*

    Tips for anyone who is going to do this for the first time (I didn't hear Jen mention them in the video):
    New wall plates do not come with the new receptacles or switches, so if you're replacing the receptacle or switch, then either make sure your new one is the same color as the one you're going to replace, or just buy a new wall plate at the same time (recommending the latter so you know it's an exact color match).

    Also, if you're going to paint the room right after you replace outlets and no little kids or curious pets will be in the room in the meantime, just leave the new wall plates off until you're done painting, but obviously, be careful working around uncovered outlets and switches.

    KW

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  14. I'd love to have a dimmer switch in my dining room. Can you replace an existing on/off switch with a dimmer, and simply replace the lightbulbs with dimming ones?

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  15. Hi! Thanks SO much for all this documentation and how-to's. I feel so silly that I don't know *any* of this stuff, despite being WELL into adulthood. I'm so curious - how did you learn all this? Your parents? Peers? Online tutorials? Did you teach yourself or learn with others? Thanks so much!

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    1. Don't feel silly! Everything I know I learned from John, and John learned by first working at hardware stores in college, then by just DOING. When we were newly married we did handyman work, and accepted every job even if we'd never done it before. (And that we could legally do, of course.) We'd go ask industry pros at Home Depot how to do whatever, read the directions, and then go do the thing, ha. Same thing when we redid our own house about 15 years ago: we learned while doing, and if we *couldn't* do it, then we paid close attention to the professionals we hired and asked a lot of questions.

      I will say that John's mind is wired for construction, and he has an uncanny ability to immediately grasp how things work and how to build things, whereas I need pictures and explanations and a very slow walk-through. Even John is still learning, though; I've caught him studying up online, watching Youtube videos for drywall finishing, for example. There's always more to learn, always newer and better ways to do things.

      TL;DR: the best teacher is experience, so jump in and just START. Ask questions when you get stuck, and of course be safe about it, but you may be surprised how much you can do on your own.

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    2. Thanks so much for the reply! I'm excited to start learning / doing.

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  16. Nice shirt! (I see what you did there.) :D ~TAL

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    1. I KNEW SOMEONE WOULD NOTICE. <3 <3 <3

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  17. I am REALLY loving this series. You are so good at making sure you are covering all of the important bits, and still making it accessible. Thank you for taking the time to do things well.
    I've always enjoyed your written voice, and it's nice to have audio to go with it :)
    Keep fighting the good fight, I'm really glad you're putting yourself in front of the camera for this. I love that you two have added videos to your extensive resumes.

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  18. Great tutorial! If you're still taking suggestions for other ones, I'd love to see one on framing a new wall. All the walls in my basement had to be ripped out after a flood a few years ago, and I would love to start rebuilding it - but I am clueless about proper framing.

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  19. as always: BRILLIANT!!! For future Garage ideas... anything plumbing (changing out a sink?), and the more "fancy" painting (ok ok I know it's foux finish, but who knows how to spell that?), and OH anything to help smooth a lawn/ get rid of a tree?

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  20. Warning (from experience): if there is any evidence of rats around electrical wires, don't trust the tester that you can use on covered wires; it can give you a false negative reading! Rat urine does something weird that negates the live signal.

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  21. I am excited about ALL of these videos! I really appreciate you doing them as well as how you create them - best how to's I've watched in a long time. I would have loved to see a "how to drywall" but you already finished so I'm looking forward to the patching one because i have a big ceiling situation after a leak that needs repair. Keep up the good work and thank you so much!!

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