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In Focus

Things are never as simple as they seem. And some things should just be left to the professionals.

In my never ending endeavour to fix up my home, I still had items filling my futon in my office from a recent painting project. It was time to go through them, put them up, put them away or get rid of them.

I made a good dent in dispersing the items until I came across a beat up box containing a light fixture for my bedroom that had not been installed. I decided now was the time. Feeling confident in my ability to follow directions, I assembled the light fixture.

This fixture is a black, steampunk looking ceiling light with eight arms bent in different directions. I assembled the pieces and realized an arm was missing. I tore apart the rest of the futon hoping it had just fell out of the box...but no such luck. I’ve had this thing for about two years and it probably came that way originally. Oh well, I just shifted the arms around and made it to my liking. While tedious, the assembly was pretty simple. There was an obvious white wire, black wire and ground to wire the fixture.

Then I proceeded to take down the old ceiling fan that I have always despised. The light/fan combo came out easy but the ceiling bracket became a real issue.

One of the four giant screws holding up the bracket would not budge. In the process of using everything from a drill to a pry bar, the plaster in that area began to crack and fall down in chunks. Eventually, the screw broke in half.

I ended up with a hole in my ceiling and more work to fix it.

Then I actually looked at the remaining wires.

They were both black. Oh, great! I began the search for my voltage meter to test the wires to find out which was the hot wire and the neutral one. I couldn’t find my meter to save my life so I ended up buying a cheap one to get the job done. A friend double-checked it for me and shared the wiring is probably original to the house and needs to be updated. Just wonderful...

I spent the next few days adding layers of spackle to the 6-8 inch oblong hole in the ceiling where the plaster had once been. A few days later the hole was filled, sanded and painted. It was finally time to put in the new ceiling bracket.

It was nearly impossible to install due to the amount of wires. I had to shorten the wires and shove part of them into the ceiling where the main wires were. I also misplaced the knobs for attaching the light to the ceiling bracket. I did find some small nuts that fit and after wrestling the fixture in the dark for about an hour, I got it in.

I turned on the breaker and flipped the switch. It worked!

I found some color changing light bulbs which was awesome!

Along the way I discovered as I moved the wires in the ceiling, random stuff would fall out and litter my floor and bed. Taking a closer look, it looked like a shiny gravel. I did some research and found out it’s most likely vermiculite insulation. Basically, it’s a type of gravel used for insulation, that could possibly be contaminated with asbestos. But, it’s supposed to be okay if you don’t mess with it. I was a little concerned as it was raining all over my floor...

This was supposed to be a simple project. It ended up causing a huge headache and I discovered I will have an expensive house rewiring project in the future and a potentially hazardous insulation situation that may need to be dealt with.

This home improvement stuff is going to break the bank!


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