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Adventures in Wiring

Over the weekend my husband and I tried to put in the new garbage disposal. It’s one of the things about this house that we just haven’t been able to get used to. Low water pressure? Fine, we’ll adjust. No microwave? Well, we have an oven. No disposal? Panic!

The reasoning behind not putting one in was sound - we’re on a septic system instead of sewer. Fortunately they’ve developed a disposal with septic in mind, so we went out and picked one up. It’s one heck of a disposal too: 3/4 horsepower with a 40 oz grind chamber. Not that we need all of that grinding power, but it will be nice to be able to just wash stuff down the sink instead of being super careful about catching scraps in the trap. And then the really gross part of transferring the ick from the trap to the trash.

After bringing this bad boy home, we came up with a plan of attack. See, the dishwasher was put in after the rest of the kitchen, so there’s some weird wiring under the sink (along with a switch?!?) to accommodate it. We figured we’d just attach the disposal to the dishwasher electric feed, do a bit of plumbing and be done. We’ve done electric work before. This shouldn’t be a big deal.

Wouldn’t it be nice if things went to plan? Just once, even?

So we started flipping breakers, trying to determine which of the lines fed which parts of the kitchen. There are 2 lines for outlets, the stove, the fridge, some more lines for other receptacles and the lights… none of them impact the dishwasher. So we start flipping other random breakers, leaving out the upper and lower floors. The last one on the list before we get to the last-resort-upstairs-breakers is the furnace.

Naturally, they hooked the dishwasher up to the furnace. Why on earth wouldn’t you hook two items that take 15 amps up to the same 20 amp breaker? What possible reason could you have for wanting the dishwasher to stand alone?

At least now we know why there’s a switch for it.

So we spent Sunday running wire from a spare breaker (Spare. Hah! At least now I know we’re not going to increase the water pressure in the house. Ever.) and hooking it up to the dishwasher. In moving the electric, we’d decided to pull out the old wires that weren’t going to be used any more and clean up our mess. Unfortunately, that didn’t go to plan either. It turns out that there are several more wires coming out of the furnace junction, and we have no idea where they go. We decided to leave that mess well enough alone. So we capped the wires and called it good. No fire hazard, no foul.

Next weekend, we’ll try setting up the box for the extra power and putting in the new plumbing. At least the old pipes are compression fit and easy to replace.

Originally published at my blog. You can comment here or there.