GFCIs, Oops Hole

A dozen receptacles in the new house are two-prong. Those always turn out to be the ones into which you need to plug a three-pronged electric cheese grater. Adapters aren’t really safe, elegant, or convenient, so I’m removing all the old receptacles and replacing with ground fault circuit interruptors. Which takes a bit of hard swallowing, since the old receptacles all had lovely bakelite covers, which now go into a drawer to gather dust.

Hired a pair of electricians to do the hard work prepping new circuits for the garage, add a receptacle to the kitchen, replace our antique fuse box, add a phone jack, etc. We love ’em, they’re great. But came home from a wedding today to a VERY contrite note explaining that a “miscommunication” had resulted in a 1.5″ hole accidentally being bored through our beautiful new floors. Mercy. I can just see how the moment unfolded:

“I got daylight.”

“I’m not seeing your drill bit.”

“I’m through.”

“Where are you?”


They came up on the wrong side of a wall. Rather than behind the stove in the kitchen, the hole is near the stereo, in the living room. They’re willing to pay for repairs of course, but what a drag.

7 Replies to “GFCIs, Oops Hole”

  1. Sounds like our old house – the electrics when we moved there were circa 1940, huge 15-amp bakelite wall sockets which didn’t fit any electrical equipment built since before I was born. Bakelite light switches which looked beautiful (at least they would without the dozen-or-so layers of paint) but which would crack if you didn’t treat them with respect.

    Luckily my dad has some electrical expertise, and retired from his job a couple of months after we moved in. His first post-retirement job was re-wiring the house – the whole thing took him two weeks, mainly because our 1903 bricks were tougher than diamond to drill into. The fuse-box turned out to be an eye-opener as well – dad discovered that the entire twelve-room house was earthed with a piece of wire that would be hard pushed to power a loudspeaker – ouch!

    And don’t even ask about the plumbing… :)

  2. You do know that one GFIC will protect all the outlets downstream of it. If by bakalite covers you mean the wall plates, you might be able to get three prong sockets to fit and only change out one outlet for a GFIC. You might also talk to your electricians and see if they can gfic the circuit itself. Just a thought.


  3. Jim, that’s a great suggestion (installing a GFCI for the circuit itself). I’ll bring it up with the electricians on the next visit. I think three-prong receptacles will fit with these covers.

  4. You know what else made of bakelite looks good?

    fake “japanese rings”.

    When my grandfather was in the second world war in the pacific islands working as a radio technician for the allied forces, they used to come across large amounts of bakelite with japenese characters printed across it (it was used in radio equipment). Being Australians, he and his mates were always innovative and actually shaped this stuff into rings and sold it to the American troops for large sums of money under the guise of “authentic japanese rings”.

    He paid off the deposit on his house with this when he returned back from the war.

    But we all figure that was fair enough – while the US were enjoying fresh-water showers and eating hot meals off their ships each day, the Australians had tough bully-beef and dog biscuits to contend with.

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