Difficult Decisions that Shouldn’t Be

Over-thinking slows me down.

I think my brain is turning to mush. I’ve been struggling to make little decisions in the wiring for my home. In most cases, the decisions are not important and they’re taking too long to make.

Yesterday was a perfect example. I had to put at least two 20-amp receptacles (AKA outlets) in my laundry room. One was for my washer. The other was for something else — perhaps an iron? The vacuum? Something that would be plugged in only once in a while.

Before I could finish the task, I struggled with several decisions that really aren’t earth shattering:

  1. Where do I put the outlets? The decision on approximately where to put the washing machine outlet was easy: in the corner where the washing machine would be. I couldn’t put it behind the washer because that’s where the plumbing was. So I’d put it on the adjacent wall. But which stud to nail it to? As for the other outlet, which side of the room should it go on? Should I have one on each side? What if I decided to put a cabinet or countertop on the other side of the room? Would an outlet fit there? And if I did put an outlet on the other side of the room, how would I run the wire to it? The final decision: Put them on the same wall.
  2. How high do I put the outlets? Near the floor? Or higher up? If I put the washing machine outlet near the floor, how would I be able to unplug it without moving the washing machine? But because my washer and dryer were going to be stacked, how could I access an outlet halfway up the wall anyway? And what if the cord didn’t reach? As for the second outlet, if I used it for an iron, it might be handy to have the outlet at waist high. But I’d used outlets down near the floor for an iron without any trouble. And how likely was it that I’d use an iron anyway? The final decision: Put them both near the floor.
  3. Do I run the wire between them into the top or bottom of the boxes? Although this really doesn’t matter — after all, the wires will be covered when the drywall goes in — I labored for at least 5 minutes over this decisions.The final decision: Run the wire from the top.
  4. Which outlet do I run the home run from? (The “home run” is the uninterrupted length of wire from the first device on the circuit back to the circuit board.) Again, this doesn’t matter at all. The final decision: undecided. I was interrupted and set the whole job aside.

Here’s how things stood after decision 1 above. I took this photo when I realized how long it had taken me just to decide where to put the two boxes and right before I drilled the holes in three studs to run the wire.

A real electrician would come into the room and bam! – knock two blue boxes into the wall, run the wire, and be done with it. But I spent a total of at least 30 minutes making these decisions. And I’m not even done! That’s ridiculous. The room is less than 5 x 6 feet in size. Hell, my old walk-in closet was bigger than that.

It wasn’t like this for every room — thank heaven. I think I’m just starting to get tired and am over-thinking things.

I’m really looking forward to being done. And I think I will be by Sunday.

Now what do you think? Another outlet on the other side of the room?

8 thoughts on “Difficult Decisions that Shouldn’t Be

  1. The things I learned when we built our home 10 years ago and a couple more I wish I’d learned– Floor outlets are your friends, place them wherever you might like something away from a wall. Put more outlets than you think you’ll need, like one on every wall segment, even in larger closets. You will appreciate them as new products come along. Place outlets on both ends of islands in kitchen. Where will you plug in chargers, Christmas lights, exercise equipment? Where will you plug in your vacuum? How about a motion camera?

    Boxes and wire is cheap now, much more expensive later!

    • Agreed on all points. I put a floor outlet in where I expect my sofa to be so that I can have lamps on the end tables. In my last home, we had to run cord across a short length of carpet and I always thought it looked pretty trashy. I also put outlets in some of my closets. As for the number of outlets in a room, code requires me to have one at least every 12 feet but in my living room, for example, I have one every 6 feet. My bedroom is not very large, but I have eight outlets. Most of the outlets will go unused most of the time, but I’ll never have to look hard to find a place to plug in a vacuum or a device that he’s charging.

  2. The more outlets everywhere, the better. I don’t think you will regret that decision! And, I thought I was the queen of over-thinking! Are you battling for my crown? Good luck – you are doing a fantastic job!

    • It’s almost as if the longer I work on this project, the more difficult it is to make decisions. I really will be glad when I’m done. And I definitely agree about the outlets.

  3. The more outlets the better; if you don’t use it then no problem but if it isn’t there then it is a problem. The smaller the room the more time you need to take to get it right since space, by definition, is a premium. I had a small utility room to refit and I took ages working out if the fridge door should open to the left or right. Just as well I took the time since I discovered a potential problem with a unit that was unrelated to the fridge. By thinking about it you save time in the long run.

    • That could be it — the size of the room is making it more difficult to get things right. Less room for error. My big problem with this little room is that I’m not sure what I’m going to put in it other than the washer, dryer, and water heater. As you can imagine, there isn’t much room for anything else. At this point, I’m leaning toward a drop-down ironing board – I’m going to start looking for one online. Maybe with a convenient ironing board, I might do more sewing again.

What do you think?