"Making an ass."

"Making an ass."

One of the first things I did when we bought our house was to split a large bedroom right down the middle, turning it into two smaller bedrooms so that each kid had their own room.

It was not a complicated project by any stretch, but I was short on time, so I paid someone to come in and frame the wall for me. Afterward, I did the simple wiring, which consisted of only two lights and a handful of receptacles.

Conveniently, there was an outlet right beside the new wall, so I popped the cover off and looked inside to what gauge wire was on the circuit before heading over to Lowes to pick up my supplies.

The entire job took about 45 minutes, counting sweeping up the mess from drilling through the studs. Mind you this was just the rough wiring so the sheetrock guys could get in - I’d not yet installed any receptacles or switches, nor had I tied into the existing circuit.

When I went back to make the tie-in, there was a problem. I’d wired the new wall with 14 gauge wire, but the wire in the existing receptacle was larger 12 gauge wire.

Somewhat panicked, I ran down to check the circuit breaker, which I should have done in the first place, and sure enough, it was a 20 amp circuit.

Dammit! I had extended with wire that’s only good for 15 amps (unless you want to burn your house down).

When I’d looked in the existing outlet and saw white, I assumed it to be 14 gauge since all the 14 gauge wire I've ever worked with has been white.

As it turns out, that hasn’t always been the case. When this bedroom was wired back in 1983, they made 14 gauge wire in light grey, which I’d mistaken for white.

By now the sheetrock was up, the walls were painted, and in just a couple more days kids would be sleeping in those bedrooms. The last thing I wanted to do was tear all that sheetrock back out and rewire the wall.

I’ve always heard that when you assume things you “make an ass out of you and me.”

I guess in this case I made a [dumb]ass out of myself because when I called an electrician friend of mine for advice the first words out of his mouth were, “You dumbass.”

At least he had an easy solution for me, one that I probably would have realized myself if I weren't so pissed at myself over the faulty assumption.

All I had to do was change the circuit breaker from a 20 amp to a 15 amp breaker and the problem was solved with no tearing out of new drywall required.

That's a good thing. I'm pretty sure, with all the cleaning she'd done to get the house ready, my wife might have killed me if I'd started tearing out sheetrock on moving day.