Weekend how-to

Install a new light fixture:

Yesterday, we finally got around to replacing the light fixture over my kitchen sink.  It’s a standard, 2-foot fluorescent light — the kind a family with children might leave on all night, so that someone coming to the kitchen for a glass of water in the middle of the night doesn’t fall into the dog food dish, or worse.

It’s not an easy thing to get to, because the fixture itself is behind a wood facade that’s part of the built-in cabinetry.  The best way, for someone of my (limited) height and build, is to stand in the sink.  This doesn’t work so well for HWTFM though, who’s considerably taller and broader of shoulder than I am.  Yet, in this house, built-in electrical stuff is exclusively his domain, given that he has far more training and expertise in how not to get electrocuted, how not to set up a house fire, etc.

The fixture is secured to the ceiling with two long bolts, which fit into toggle bolts up in the ceiling.  It’s supposed to slide up through the fixture, with the screw head pointing down, and anchor to the toggle bolt somewhere up in the ceiling.  Trouble is, this particular toggle bolt wasn’t firmly attached to anything up there, in a part of the unfinished attic that only a squirrel could get to.  When we tried to thread the bolt into it, the toggle bolt just floated around… it wasn’t possible to get it started.

As HWTFM was kicking around outside, contemplating a dangerous and icky trip to the attic, I pulled out my trusty box of household hardware, found a large, new toggle bolt, matching bolt, washer, and nut.  I cut the head off of the bolt, threaded it into the new toggle, and stuck that end into the ceiling, so that the fixture could be fitted over the headless bolt.  Then, I put the washer and nut on, securing the right side of the fixture.  After that, it wasn’t a problem to fit the other bolt on the left side, as the toggle in the ceiling was secured to something up there.

Then, HWTFM completed all the wiring connections, put the fixture back together, and threw the breaker on for a test — it works!

So, the shortcut for the day is, cutting the head off the bolt and installing a new toggle, with the bolt secured on the bottom with a washer and nut, is the easy way around the mysterious floating toggle problem.

The next question is, who got up in the middle of the night and ate half an apple pie?  Dang.   Maybe having a nightlight in the kitchen wasn’t such a good idea, after all.

4 Responses to “Weekend how-to”

  1. on 19 Jan 2009 at 10:46 am girlfriend

    Or maybe you need surveilance cameras in the kitchen.

  2. on 19 Jan 2009 at 5:51 pm Trina

    We recently replaced our dining room light. Because the new one weighed so much more, we needed to secure it with a 2×4 between two trusses in the attic.
    The concept was simpler than the actual work. I had to climb into the attic, carefully maneuver my way to the other end of the house and shovel out 2+ feet of loose insulation just to locate the darn hole.

  3. on 20 Jan 2009 at 1:05 am Mike

    I recently tried to replace a light on a ceiling fan. However my dear one bought a light that did not actual go on a ceiling fan but since I didn’t read the directions before starting I found out after about 2 hours into the project. So I called my son-in-law. He quickly arrived and had the wrong light looking good on the ceiling fan within minutes. I got so frustrated that I stopped watching him work. 🙂 I’m sure he had to modify some “bolts” along the way.

    I told my dear one to just call my son-in-law the next time and save 2 hours. 🙂

  4. on 22 Jan 2009 at 11:53 am Napster

    LOL–I’m glad you didn’t set the house on fire for several reasons, but mainly because it was cold.

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