Sunday, September 11, 2016

House Post: Best Laid Plans, or, One Step Forward, .999999999 Steps Back

We rewired the house last July, but I'm still working on the various pieces of things leftover from that.

One of those things was the dining room chandelier. We had taken it down as part of the rewiring, and then it looked like it was old, bad wiring, so we left it down. About a month after that, I had time to examine it more thoroughly and it was fine! Someone had just done a dumbass patch job that they didn't even need to do - basically they thought they didn't have enough wire to reach the ceiling box, so they spliced in some extra inches very badly, and after who knows how many years that had started to fray and come apart. I just yanked that extra wire out, the original wires were in fine shape, and with some careful maneuvering and help from a friend, put the fixture back up.


It was a very old chandelier, and it was in many pieces down a central column. Each piece was held together in a slightly different way, mostly variations on several long hollow screws. They were all precisely measured, and try as we might, we could not get them to all work together to allow the fixture to look and hang normally again.

(this is where I'd put a picture of that crooked chandelier if I had thought to take a picture of it but alas I was not that smart_

After a while, we just left it as best as we could, and so the fixture hung crookedly for about a year. Also, sort of from the wires which was obviously less than ideal and okay, fine, kind of dangerous, but you had to be there to realize just how maddening trying to get that puzzle right was.


I finally got sick of staring at it, and started to think about how I could fix it, when I was at the hardware store looking for something I discovered two things.

1. Those hollow screw things are called "lamp nipples."
2. You can buy them in all sorts of sizes!

Well, boom. I took the fixture apart, found the one that was the worst offender, went to the hardware store, and bought one that was 1" longer. Old one is on the left above, new on the right. $2.52 with tax, sweet!

Then I put the fixture back together, and hung it back up and lo, it hung straight and beautifully.

Then I flipped the light switch.

And there was a loud POP with a sort of echo-y fizzle, and the light turned back off.


Other lights were on, so it wasn't the breaker. I went to bed grumpy and feeling like a failure and the next morning got up, flipped the breaker off, and proceeded to take apart both the switch (totally fine) and the fixture itself (no obvious scorch marks, melted wires, etc).

Stumped, I put up a bulb in its place, and that turned on just fine. So...the fixture was dead. I must have tweaked something in all the twisting and movement that I had to do to take it apart and put it back together.

On the one hand: it's kind of dated, and was slated for replacement in 3-5 years anyway.

On the other hand: GOD DAMN IT.

So, we lived with a bare bulb for a week.

Wicked classy look.

Then we ordered a fixture off of Amazon for $75, because we are Millennials, and honestly there was ZERO room in the budget for the ideal perfect fixture right now.

And that's the story of how I accidentally installed a new dining room chandelier.


  1. First off: LAMP NIPPLES. Love it.

    The light in my tack room (I'm in the trainer's tack room, so it's not the main boarder tack room, not that this is pertinent to the story necessarily) has been shittacular or out for the better part of the last three years. We have sometimes just operated in full darkness in there... and by "operated" I mean, stumbled around cursing and generally being pissed off. One of the problems, when it wasn't a fluorescent tube that was being a bitch, was that the light switch wouldn't "hold" the on position. It would hit the on position, the light would flicker on, and then it would just bounce off and the connection was broken.

    No problem, I thought after like eight months of this garbage. I rewired some plugs when I lived in Congo, how hard can this be? I'll just have to remove the face plate, tighten up whatever switch it is that is bouncing off the connection, and Bob's your uncle: we have light. I played around in the barn with fuses for about 45 minutes until I was convinced that the tack room circuit was turned off, unscrewed the face plate, and got to work.

    Turns out the switch was rather a LOT more complicated than I thought, and I got stumped essentially immediately. But there was one loose piece of metal that I was CONVINCED was the culprit and would if I could just tighten it, I would be able to convince the switch to stay on. I twiddled around in there with a screw driver for a bit and then POP and FIZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ and there was a nice big spark and a flash of light and smoke coming out of the switch.

    I am CLEARLY a moron and should not have been trying to "fix" that. And I'm lucky I didn't get hurt. BUT... the light got fixed the next week by my trainer's husband so yay!


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