Published: 7 years ago

Sometimes You Gotta Get It Out(let)

So not too long ago, we sold our house after five years on the market and moved into a rental while we continue to search for just the right Casa Del Franks.

Editor’s note: You keep referencing this move. Are you ever going to address the move itself, like how you drove what was possibly the first U-Haul truck to roll off the assembly line in 1925, or how you broke a window roughly 42 minutes after you signed the lease on the rental, or how you ventured into the attic to breathe in so much asbestos you could actually feel the mesothelioma growing in your lungs or whatever it is mesothelioma does?

Um, no. At least not today. Nope, today I need to wax eloquently about the electrical outlets in this house. And by “wax eloquently,” I mean complain that these are the most freakishly annoying conglomerations of plastic and wire that have ever graced God’s green earth.

This house was built in the 1960’s, which means it has what I can only assume are 1960’s outlets. I don’t know which government official decided somewhere along the way that receptacles should be a different size than the things they are…um…receptacling, but we are facing the constant issue of trying to plug something in, only to walk four feet away and hear “WHONK…”

Receptacled Device: “WHONK.”

Me: [plugs Receptacled Device back in]

Receptacled Device: “WHONK.”

Me: [plugs Receptacled Device back in with a little more force this time]

Receptacled Device (pauses for dramatic effect and lets me get eight feet away this time): “WHONK.”

Merriem (from the other room): “What IS that?”

Me: [Yosemite Sam-style cuss words that are not fit for your kids to read.]

It all comes down to the fact that the recaptacled devices’ plugs are not as wide as the little holes in the receptacles. And when I say, “Not as wide,” I’m not talking about .0001 of a millimeter’s difference. Nope, this is like trying to cram a kiwi into a basketball hoop.

(To my wife who’s not a big fan of fruit: a kiwi is a very, very small fruity thing that would easily fit into a basketball hoop, with room for a few dozen of it’s kiwi friends. That’s why that was a funny sentence. Go back and read it again and laugh this time.)

The larger receptacles means that it’s really hard to successfully plug in my phone or other receptacled devices on the first try. Usually it’s a several-minute process which involves a prayer asking God not to allow it to thunder, or a truck to drive by, or a butterfly to flap its wings on the other side of the globe.

And speaking of butterflies, should we blame the little creatures that are painted on some of the receptacles in the house? I also have faux brass receptacle plates, if you need them.

I don’t want to be too overdramatic about this [Editor’s note: too late], but this has changed the fabric of our family. When I became a father almost sixteen years ago, I would never have been able to envision a day when I’d yell out, “Stop walking so heavily! THIS POT OF COFFEE HAS TO FINISH BREWING!”

So, smarty-pants readers, how do I fix this? Is this the ultimate purpose of electrical tape? Do I reinstall all of our receptacle plates into the floor so that gravity works with me and the WHONK is not so pronounced? Do I just sit back and forget about the receptacled devices for a moment and worry instead about my impending bout with mesothelioma?

And most importantly, do you have fights with inanimate objects like I do? Comment below.


photo credit

  1. Lee Beck says:

    Okay. I’ll give it a try. From the picture and description, I’m thinking that:

    1. you may have the plug upside down. Most “modern” plugs are made with one wide prong and a narrower opposing one to assure the polarity fed to the device is correct. If you try to plug the wide prong into then arrow hole, it’s like trying to stuff a watermelon into a basketball hoop (I didn’t get the kiwi analoge, but laughed cause you told me to.)

    2. The safety rim around the plug (to minimize the potential for your fingers touching the prongs) may be too wide. That doesn’t look like the case in the picture for this specific plug and recepticle, but the pretty little butterfly-laden ceramic recepticle cover appears to have a concave opening for the recepticle. Bad design if you have a wide plug, like is used for some adaptors for phones (and other devices) where the transformer is integral to the plug.

  2. Lee Beck says:

    3. You may have provided the wrong picture for your example. Many older homes do not have the wide/narrow receptacles for the wide/narrow plugs. If you try to cram a wide plug into a narrow hole you get the melon/BB effect.
    If you determine that your problem is #2 then you can replace the pretty ceramic cover with one from a hardware store that is meant to do the job – not to look pretty. It’s an easy DIY task. One screw in the middle of the cover. Generally a safe job if you don’t leave the cover off while answering the phone or something. Especially important if little Haven is around.
    If you determine that your problem is #3 then you’re out of luck unless you can find an adaptor that goes from narrow/narrow on the receptacle end and wide/narrow on the plug end.
    If you determine that your problem is #1 then, well…….I need to be diplomatic here. Just don’t use a hammer.
    Good luck.

  3. Josh Pearce says:


    Surely this post is just an excuse for you to exercise your wit, and for me, by answering, a chance to exercise my obtuseness, but what the heck, I’ll play along.

    Try bending the prongs out in a Y shape, then ease the plug into the outlet so that the prongs are exerting outward pressure on the receptacle slots. You could also try twisting the prongs a little with a pair of pliers, so that if the receptacle slot is at 12:00, the prongs are then at 11:30 and 12:30.

    • Danny says:

      LEE: I should’ve known to come to you first. While I highlighted the butterfly outlets, the reality is that ALL outlets in the house – regardless of cover – give me that problem. The butterfly outlet was just so darn cute.

      JOSH: That’s not a bad idea. Do you have an extra iPhone wall adapter in case I get too crazy with my bending?

  4. Evan Huntley says:

    There isn’t a good fix – the issue you’re having is a sign of one of two things:

    A. These outlets are cheap overseas products which never fit properly.

    or the more likelier

    B. They wore out over years of use.

    In either case, there isn’t a safe way to remedy the issue beyond replacing the actual receptacles. That’s actually pretty simple to do if you just unscrew the faceplate, unscrew the receptacles from the outlet and take a look at how it’s wired. New ones would go in the same way. You can (carefully) remove one of these and take it to Home Depot or Lowes to be sure you get the correct ones.

    However, if you’re in a rental this shouldn’t really be your issue but your landlords.

  5. Evan Huntley says:

    FYI Turn the power off before you remove the outlet or wiring 🙂 Important.

  6. Robert S says:

    More than likely, over 50 years the contact tension of the receptacles has weakened so that it cannot hold the plug anymore. I don’t think that it would be any wider than a brand new outlet.

    Since you are renting now, this is a great issue to bring up to your landlord for them to fix by replacing every outlet in the house.

  7. Connie Pearson says:

    1. Get off your computer until you’ve searched out the next Casa del Franks.
    2. Live in a 3rd world country for 4 years, and you’ll just be happy for ANY kind of electricity.

    Those are my somewhat-solicited, rather unsympathetic comments.

    • Danny says:

      What’s funny about reading through these comments is this: I know and Merriem knows (and some of you know) that I’ll NEVER do anything about this. It’s just a rental, after all. It’s just temporary. It’s too much trouble.

      But hey…thanks for playing!

  8. Lee Beck says:

    If it’s your iPhone adapter then you may have the #2 scenario in my post above. If so, you may want to try using an extension cord that fits the wall well and plug your adapter into the receiving end. This may take some trial and error, and is messy (and a tripping hazard) with the wires hanging around. Use the shortest cord that you have, but a phone charger uses so little current you don’t need to worry about line-loss. Also, if you want to try the Josh trick (I’ve done that before) then you’ve only damaged an extension cord ($1.29) and not the iPhone adapter.

  9. Lee Beck says:

    Don’t you wish that you got this much interest from a blog on effective evangelism? It’s a lot easier (I’ll speak for myself) to comment on how to get someone to electrocute than to electrify 🙂

  10. Amanda says:

    I know you’re an avid reader. Go through your book collection and find large books that are the same height as the receptacle (from the floor or counter to the receptacle). Plug into the receptacle, then prop the big old heavy book against the plug so it can’t get ejected as you walk away. It should keep the plugs in but the boys may still have to walk softly to avoid knocking the books down. This will probably make a good game for Haven – grab Daddy’s book and run. Watch Daddy chase me so I don’t destroy the book AND so his plug will work again. Sounds like great family fun!

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