An Electrical Problem

I got a new power outlet to replace the one on Emily's nightstand. This is one of those fancy outlets with the USB plugs on it. I finally got around to installing it today and ran into some troubles.

The old outlet had 2 blacks, 2 whites, a red, and an exposed wire. I've never done outlet replacements before so I looked it over and moved along.

The white recepticles were labeled with W and the green was for the exposed (I knew that it's the ground wire) so those weren't a problem. I then stuffed a black in each and the red in one of the blacks.

Fired the breaker back on and the outlet worked! But, now our light switch wouldn't ever turn our main light off. That light is hardwired into the wall and has nothing to do with the outlet.


I figured that the red cable was where I went wrong, so I went to another outlet, the one by my nightstand, and opened it up to see how that one is configured. Mine has a black, a white, and a bare wire. What??? To figure this out I went to the world's greatest source of knowledge... the interenet!

I now know that the red wire is a switched wire. I unooked it, capped it off, and tested. The outlet now works and the light turns off. Perfect. Sealed it all up, flipped the breaker, and reset her clock.

Now my outlet doesn't work. Crap.

So my thinking is 1 of 2 things:

  1. I somehow blew out my outlet in all of this. It's old and could be fragile.

  2. Somehow disconnecting the red wire disabled my outlet.

Tomorrow I'll go get a new outlet and test my theory, praying all the while that it's #1 and not #2.

This is why I'm a programmer, and not a builder, electrician, plummer, etc. Code is so much easier.