Thursday, August 21, 2014

Installing the New Nest Protect in the Basement

I actually started this project yesterday afternoon, but it continued through tonight.

After stealing the Nest Protect from the basement for use in the master bedroom, I ordered an AC-powered Nest Protect to replace it.

When we first moved in here, I already knew the existing carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms badly needed to be replaced. I did not yet know what the wiring looked like. So I ordered 3 battery-powered Nest Protects (one for each floor of the house) as a starting point.

Now that I have a better idea of how the house is wired, future Nest Protects will be AC-powered, and the battery-powered ones we already have will be cycled into rooms that do not have convenient AC power, like the master bedroom.

Anyway, I spent all of yesterday afternoon trying to figure out which circuit the basement was on. I was unsuccessful. I did manage to map out most of the rest of the electrical system, however.

This afternoon, I realized that the circuit that controls the junction box where I wanted to put the Nest Protect also controls both the basement lighting and and kitchen and dining room lighting. I had labeled that circuit as just kitchen and dining room lighting months ago, and figured that was all it did. Whoops.

Anyway, once I finally had the circuit safely turned off, I installed the wiring for the Nest Protect, and then turned the circuit back on.


I rechecked everything I had worked on, and flipped the circuit multiple times. Power still wasn't flowing to the lights or the Nest Protect.


The only thing I could think of was that the circuit breaker itself had broken. I ran to Home Depot to pick up a couple of new ones. On the way home I called up my Dad, to talk through the job of replacing a circuit breaker and try to minimize the chances of shocking myself.

Dad had me get out a voltmeter and check that the circuit breaker actually was bad (this would have been a smart thing to do BEFORE driving to the store). Turns out it was. Unfortunately, the spares I had just purchased WERE THE WRONG SIZE. Bah.

I might have driven back to the store then (it was 8pm here, it was getting dark, and for some stupid reason our circuit breaker panel is on the exterior of the house, so any stupid teenager walking by can "prank" us by turning off the power) but Dad asked me what the other breakers around the bad one were for. One of them, immediately above the bad breaker, only controls the electrical connection for our not-yet-installed range hood (as far as I can tell). Dad suggested I steal that one to replace the broken one, leaving the not-yet-installed range hood without power until I can buy a new, correctly sized circuit breaker on the way home from work tomorrow.

So that's what I did. And it worked!

I installed this Nest Protect more centrally in the basement. The smoke alarm that came with the house was right up against the wall (code says it must be at least 6 inches from a wall) - you can see the junction box on the ceiling, to the right of the air vent.

Here's another view:

I promised Brianna it would take less than 10 minutes to get this Nest Protect installed tonight. I bet Murphy heard me say that, reached out his intangible hand of probability, and destroyed that old circuit breaker just because I said something so stupid.

I had other, additional, plans for tonight, but I think I'm going to have to be satisfied with this.

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