Sometimes calling an electrician makes sense

This week is going to have two exciting posts about lighting. The post later in the week is going to be inspirational and have a happy ending (okay maybe not “inspirational”), but today’s post is about failure. To be honest, I can’t say that we failed that much, but we were really excited about taking our florescent lighting down from our pantry and installing a new light fixture.

Old Pantry Light

Florescent lighting is just not for us. I’m sure in some circumstances it works, but ever since we put in the new light in our kitchen, the pantry just has this weird blue tint to it. I don’t like it. Kerry has been nervous that the ceiling behind this florescent light was going to be a problem, but I was pretty confident that it was just a regular mounting box up there that had been retrofitted to work with a florescent system.

The first step (which wasn’t shown here) was taking a cover off of the light. We weren’t just living with exposed florescent tubes like you see above. There was this really cheap plastic cover over them. Upon removing the plastic, one of the florescent bulbs came crashing to the ground and shattered everywhere.

Broken Light

Yay. Crash number one! (In the business, we call that “foreshadowing”) We stopped everything swept up, vacuumed, complained about florescent lights, made sure the cats weren’t traumatized for life, and then decided to move on. One by one we removed the remaining three bulbs and carefully placed them on the ground. Then it was my time to inspect this weird mounting system that was holding both the lighting fixture and the crown molding surround.

Lighting Inspection

I thought I had this figured out — I thought all I had to do was unscrew one of the screws holding it to the ceiling, and then slide the whole unit off another screw. I unscrewed the first screw, and then realized that I wasn’t able to just slide the other part off. I had to unscrew both screws, which, in retrospect, makes a lot more sense. However, in my current situation (standing atop a ladder) I wasn’t able to move forward. So I had to actually screw the fixture back up into the ceiling and contemplate my next move.

Kerry and I sat there for about 2 minutes debating what to do. We only have one ladder so we couldn’t have both Kerry and me up there. Even if we did, I’d have to stand up there and hold the light fixture while she unscrewed one screw, climbed down, moved the ladder, and then unscrewed the second screw.

As I was trying to come up with some ridiculous system to make this work, the entire thing just fell off the ceiling. Apparently I missed the anchor when I screwed the unit back in, and the drywall ceiling wasn’t strong enough to hold the fixture. It ended up ripping the entire anchor out of the side I hadn’t touched. Crash number two! Somehow, I stayed on the ladder, the unit did not break the window that it hit, and from what we can tell, it did not damage the floor.

Pantry Ceiling

Well, at the very least, at this point everything was down. All I would need to do now is hook up a new light to the current mounting bracket. Except the new bracket is one of the most “not-up-to-code” things I’ve ever seen. I’m not an electrician, but I’ve installed enough ceiling fans and light fixtures to know my way around this stuff. And this thing is pure garbage. There is the hardware box that’s usually mounted in the ceiling (please excuse my non-technical language here), and it’s just hanging, connected by the electrical wires. There is no wood up there to actually mount the box in to, which I’m guessing was the problem originally. I tried to get the box out, except it’s also connected to a metal bar which is bigger than the hole. I could reach up into the ceiling and pull it out but at this point Kerry suggested, “Let’s just hire an electrician.”

Which is what we’re going to do. We actually want to move a light switch in this room (which I’m not ready to handle … yet) and remove another switch. We also are looking into moving our laundry into the pantry so we’ll need to get the electrical line for that up in there. So, we might as well let the professionals do it. I could probably get this light installed, but it would be another patch job (not as bad as what’s up there, I promise) and I’m just imagining someone putting a new light in 20 years from now and saying, “What idiot put this light in here?!”

Tune in later this week for a light replacement that ended a little better.

— Andy

One thought on “Sometimes calling an electrician makes sense

  1. “What idiot put this light in here?!” – Yep that’s like the story of my life over here. Our house had an addition put on 20 or so years ago and it’s complete crap – as we are slowly finding out! I feel like you as last week and this week I’ve had contractors here working on the garage. It’s a little hairy for sure!

    We have several things that will require an electrician but nothing pressing right now. Our plan is to hire someone and have them do everything at once and hopefully save by not having multiple house calls.

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