Dads Helping Dads Figure Out Being a Dad

Electrical socket safety faceplates, review and how to make them fit properly!

This last week we went to Babies-R-Us to do some shopping, and they were having a sale on Babies-R-Us branded electrical socket covers.  These are the type that replace the existing faceplates and have a sliding socket cover, with a one-screw install.  We picked up four packages (enough for the baby’s room and the main room where he/she will generally be), and today I installed them.  The link above is for the same type as the Babies-R-Us faceplates, but they will work with decora or standard outlets whereas the ones we bought only work with standard socket outlets.

A few points about the Babies-R-Us covers.

  • These will only work with standard outlets, NOT decora.  Decora outlets are rectangular in shape and do not have a screw in the middle.  The standard decora faceplates have a rectangle cut out of the center and require two screws to install which can be seen at the right.

    Standard outlets are round-ish in shape and the standard faceplates have two round holes, one for each outlet.  The faceplate requires one screw to install, located between the two outlets.
  • The covers are deeper than standard covers and you may have difficulty getting larger plugs (like the kind that plugs into your cell-phone) to stay.  This problem likely applies to all faceplates of this style, not just the Babies-R-Us ones.  Read on to learn how to fix this problem.
  • The center screw that is included to hold the faceplate in place is not painted white like the ones that are likely in your existing faceplate.  Instead they are silver.  They also are longer than normal, so the screws that hold on your current faceplate won’t work.

Making the faceplates fit properly

We have an emergency flashlight/nightlight that we keep plugged into the outlet in the nursery.  If the power goes out, the led flashlight turns on.  If it is dark, a sensor turns on a different, downward facing led light which serves as a nightlight.  The unit that plugs in houses the nightlight and also serves both as a holder and charger for the flashlight.  As an added bonus, the flashlight charges with induction, so there are no contact points to be concerned about with the baby.  After installing the new safety outlet covers, the flashlight holder simply fell out of the socket.  This would likely be a problem with other things plugged into the babies room, such as a baby monitor (a normal plug works fine, the problem only applies to items with heavy plugs).  This is a problem because a very small air gap exists between the faceplate and the outlet.

The solution is very simple.  Before you put in the replacement faceplate, loosen the two screws that hold the socket itself in place.  These screws are the ones that attach the outlet to the box inside the wall, and are above and below the plastic face.  They can be seen in the image of the standard outlet above, and are the silver screw heads that are in the screw holes found in the metal bracket.  Don’t remove these screws, simply back them out about 1/8 of an inch.  When you screw the faceplate to the outlet, the outlet will pull out from the box just a bit and remove the small air gap that exists between the faceplate and the outlet due to the additional depth of the faceplate.  The faceplate still sits flush with the wall.  If the faceplate can be moved once installed, remove it and tighten the two screws that hold the outlet in place slightly (about 1/4 of a turn).  The faceplate should provide friction against the wall to prevent motion.

I hope this helps you to solve what could be a very frustrating problem!  Due to the Babies-R-Us faceplates having silver screws, I would not recommend them.  Otherwise they are fantastic, assuming you have standard outlets.  They do sell painted screws at Home Depot, and I will be checking to see if they have them in the appropriate size.  I will post an item number if I can locate the appropriate part.  Thanks for reading!

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DIY — Doing it yourself

As a stay-at-home-dad, you spend a lot of time at home.  Duh.  Being at home means that you notice those things that are going wrong at the house — and they will start to drive you nuts.  That corner of carpet that won’t stay down and that you trip on every time you walk over it.  The light switch that has been switched one too many times.

If your house is like ours, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of things that need to be done around the house.  Things that you are capable of doing in 30 or 40 minutes while the baby sleeps!  Perhaps you are handy and accustomed to working with electricity, drywall, paint, and tools.  Fantastic, you probably won’t need the DIY section.

On the other hand, if you have trouble remembering the names of the screwdrivers that look like + (phillips) vs – (straight), I will be sharing my experiences as I fix things around the house — with instructions and possibly pictures!

“Daddy Fitz It” (translated, “Daddy, can you fix this?”)

All of my various experiences combined to enrich my ability to parent and to contribute to family life – at least in the eyes of my son (which really means a LOT to me!). It seemed to him like whatever got broken could be repaired by the magic words, “Daddy fitz it.”

Somewhere around age 4, Jeremy had a little toy dog that would open its mouth and bark and walk … and what ever. In Jeremy’s creative mind, it even ate. Cheez-Its. Lots of ‘em. Eventually the little thing was so full of crackers that they jammed up the mechanism and the puppy “died”. Jeremy held the thing  up to me, looked at me with his puppy-dog brown eyes and said, “Daddy fitz it?”  What’s a parent to do?  In a child’s eyes, we are omnipotent.  Gotta try!

Well, I did not know what the problem was. Until I used a razor knife to remove the stitches from the puppy’s “skin” and peeled it away to reveal the “skeletal” mechanism inside. Then I laughed out loud! We cleaned out the Cheez-Its, gave it a transfusion of WD-40, and gave it to my wife to “close”. The puppy survived the surgery with a little reduced range of motion, but it survived. And I was a hero in the eyes of my first-born.  It was a real “chicken soup” moment for this parent!

A few words of encouragement. First, you cannot break it if it is broken. Your choice is, trash it or fix it.  Be a parent!  Give it a try! Second, a little time and common sense will often repair precious things. Third, you won’t know if you can “fitz” it until you investigate and see what is wrong. And, most importantly … Four, twenty-five years from now, your son or daughter will remember you for the things you do – and that is entirely under your control!

You are parent!  You can do it!  Enjoy the adventure!

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