Playing with Electricity

Playing with Electricity

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For the third weekend in a row (week 1 was the knob-and-tube removal, week 2 was the dryer vent and outdoor light installation), we made a trip to a big box hardware store with the intention of doing another project ourselves.

This week we went to Lowes and while headed for the paint aisle to browse, a display of light fixtures caught our eye. PULL-CHAIN LIGHT FIXTURES!!!

It’s almost impossible to find ceiling mount pull-chain fixtures anymore. Especially if you don’t want the “naked bulb” look.  Sure, that works just fine in a basement, garage, or attic, but it really looks like crap in your living space.

Upon closer inspection, they were the type that usually mounts to the bottom of a ceiling fan, but my wife’s limited Spanish skills came in super handy, “Poro ceiling-o install-o”, or something like that…

For whatever reason, this weekend, it seemed like everything had the Spanish side facing forward, but that’s a rant for another day.

Forty-nine dollars later, we were on our way home to replace the long-dead pull chain fixture in the center of the ceiling in our kitchen.

The original fixture was a horrible, slightly rusty circular thing, about 18 inches in diameter. The lighting consisted of two of those circular fluorescent bulbs — which provided great light when I purchased the house but it was UGLY. Rusty fixture, two naked tubes, and no place to mount a cover (because of the pull-chain placement) to hide how horrible it looked.

Over time, the fixture started to buzz like that annoying light we all have at the office. Then one of the bulbs would never turn on, even when I replaced it. Thankfully, it never flickered.

One ambitious weekend, I took the whole thing apart and replaced the ballast and it worked like a charm for about a month. Then the buzzing started up again. And then the pull chain snapped.

That was probably two years ago. Since then, we’ve made out with just a couple of old ratty lamps. The result? A dark, yucky kitchen.

We took down the old one and installed the new one. The instructions were very cryptic — sorta merging the “fan installation” and the “ceiling installation” into one very confusing mess. Turned the power back on, and voila! A bright kitchen!!!

It doesn’t hurt that the white balance is way off on the before photo…It was still ugly though. The old fixture had a HUGE hole in the ceiling above it where you could see the electrical box. We needed one of those big plastic cover plates to hide things — and mount the new fixture tightly against the ceiling.

A quick trip to Home Depot, $17, and another 15 minutes re-installing the light and we were done. It’s not ideal, but for around $60, it made our relic of a kitchen a lot more livable.

And that’s three consecutive weeks playing with electricity… without an injury! Woo-hoo!