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Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Whether you are talking about an electrician or an investment advisor, professional services cost. And man's instinct is to avoid costs where possible. Woman's instinct is to raise her eyebrows. Eyebrows were raised as I set about to wire my family room. My thinking was that with a few weekends, a couple of six-packs, and the Reader's Digest Homeowners Guide I could save some bucks. I figured I would read a bit until I understood where the black wire goes, the white wire goes, and how to do the ground; and I would be on my way.
In the beginning, it was pretty easy. I got one of those drill bits that makes nice holes and drilled the holes to run the cable thru the 2x4s exactly as illustrated in the book. Going by the book - no problems. Hammered in the outlet boxes and put in the receptacles. Read up on how to strip the wire and, making sure the central power was off, started hooking stuff up, thinking all the time how I was beating the game.
Then my wife pointed out you could only turn the lamps off from one switch. She wanted to turn them off from two switches - entering and exiting the room. This was the next chapter - three way switches. No problem. This is where the chapter in statistics on permutations became real. I hooked up the switches according to the diagram on the 3-way switch package. ,Worked at one end, not the other.
Changed some of the wiring around after going to the Reader's Digest Book. Now it worked at the other end, etc. This is what you come to understand - with 3 wires and 3 places, they can be hooked up and two switches there are 17,653 different combinations. The permutations formula in statistics books is wrong.
Anyways, to make a long story short, a friend of a friend came over, looked at the situation, asked for my screw driver, changed a couple of wires and presto! - fixed the wiring inside of a minute. He didn't even look at the diagram. He could have at least pretended to look at the diagram.
All of this was no big deal - cost a couple of beers and some frustration. I learned that I could do simple wiring but the complex stuff should be left to the professional. At least that's apparently what part of my brain learned.
Time went by, my wiring experience receded to the reptilian part of my brain, and the Reader's Digest book went back on the shelf. Then the day came when the dryer needed to be moved. The amygdala stirred.
This is my advice - not appreciated at the time - don't try to wire a dryer. It is serious business. I changed wires around so much I ended up convinced that the dryer had to be broken. We must have broken it when we moved it. My wife pointed out it worked fine yesterday. , I appreciated that.
This time I called in a professional electrician and he looked at it and laughed. I provided his laugh of the day (that made me feel like I had accomplished something!). He looked at me with tears in his eyes and asked who had done the wiring. I guess he could tell by my expression it was me. As he walked out the door he muttered, loud enough for my wife to hear, "Lucky he didn't burn the house down."
That ended my career in wiring. The days came when the kids were upset that I wouldn't help them hook up the batteries for their science fair projects. They just didn't know.
For the DIY investors out there, think about bringing in a professional from time-to-time to discuss your investment program. You don't want to burn the house down.