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Little Gray Box

The other day, I noticed that my “Little Gray Box” water heater timer sounded different than usual. Actually, it hardly makes any noise at all, so the rhythmic throbbing sound coming through the wall informed me it was replacement time. I had installed this one at least fifteen years ago, so I got some good life out of it.

I foolishly headed right out to Home Depot to get a new one. I say foolishly because I forgot to look closely at the one on the wall, so I knew for sure what I needed to buy. When I arrived at Home Depot, I asked a friendly man standing at the main entrance in an orange apron, “Where are the water heater timers?” He sent me towards the water heater aisle, but that’s not where the timers are. I got on my phone to see what was in stock, and the app sent me towards the electrical aisle. It took a few minutes, but I finally found them on the bottom shelf. The thing is, there were about six different ones to choose from. They all looked pretty much the same, but were designed for assorted voltages and current, and I wasn’t 100% sure what I needed. Sigh. I went back home, took a look at what was on the wall, ordered the exact same one on Amazon and had it in hand the next day.

I was pretty happy when I opened the box. It was exactly the same one. So I didn’t even have to take the old box off the wall. Just swap out the guts. Yes, I turned off the circuit breakers. I also poked around with my current tester just to be sure. Even though I’ve done it before, I feel nervous working around wires delivering 220 volts. I double checked everything, then took a picture so I would know how to reconnect the wires. I said a little prayer, checked for current again, unhooked the old timer, connected the new one, said another prayer, and flipped the breaker back on. Worked like a charm!

I suppose I would be a little more confident if I were an electrician and worked with stuff like this every day. Or I could be really confident and just hire an electrician!

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