Today I started the task of replacing all of the electrical outlets in our house. We bought a bunch of brass fixtures to replace the plastic ones. I made the – now regrettable – suggestion that since we were dumping a bunch of money into fancy face-plates, we should also replace the old, yellowing electrical outlets. My wife agreed and then quickly delegated the task to me because I have a Y chromosome which somehow gives me an instinctual ability to do home wiring. I started my task and after I replaced the first light-switch, I flipped the power breaker back on and tested the light to make sure that it worked. Success! I then followed the same procedure after I replaced the first couple of electrical outlets. Then, buoyed by my initial success, I decided to knock out the next five outlet replacements without the added delay of turning the power back on to verify each outlet. As you can guess, this was a big mistake. After replacing the last outlet and throwing the breaker, I found out that most (but not all) of my outlets did not work any longer and neither did my light-switch which was working before.
I had skipped the inconvenience of verifying each task (in this case each replaced electrical outlet) in order to complete the job quicker. I made a mistake somewhere along the way – which I would have isolated had I stayed true to my troubleshooting methodology – and now was in the unenviable situation of having to go back and check the wiring on each outlet. Eventually, I found the problem. One of the wires was loose. It was a wire that was run from the light-switch to a few of the outlets, obviously some DIY wiring project by the former owners. A job that would have taken me two hours at most, became a 4 hour ordeal in which I was seriously considering calling an electrician to get to the house before my wife got home. Damn the cost! I just did not want to explain how I had “broken the electricity”.
Anyhoo…hopefully this hammers home the need to verify each task as you complete it when you undertake large projects like completing a practice lab. The time that you might save will pale in comparison to the time it takes you to backtrack and discover your mistake.