{House} A Change of Plans

I enjoy browsing Craigslist ads, but when I was living in an apartment, it was only window shopping.  I’d been in my new home for less than a week when I saw a light fixture I couldn’t pass up for $100.

brass gold light fixture sputnik

It’s in great condition, and the sellers even gave me an extra box of light bulbs!  I knew it would make an impact in the dining area, I just needed to find a ladder and some courage to tackle my first electrical project.

The ladder was easy enough; a quick text to my super and I had a one to borrow.  Turning off the breaker was also simple: turned the light on, and found the breaker that turned it off.  But–spoiler alert–installing the light was a whole other issue.

The current fixture is a simple three-bulb flush mount with a frosted glass shade.


There were two nuts and a metal plate holding the glass shade to the center thread, which didn’t even need a wrench to unscrew.  Thankfully there weren’t any dead bugs hiding in the shade!

I got a good chuckle when I saw the random assortment of light bulbs hiding behind the glass shade!


I unscrewed the bulbs, and as I did, something came out of one of the sockets, hit me in the chest, and then fell onto the floor.  It scared me, but I let it go.  It wasn’t a bug, and I was in too deep to stop my expedition now.  I chalked it up to being an old piece of metal and pressed on.

After the bulbs were out, I removed the rest of the center thread.  There was another bolt (that was also connected to the center tread) holding the fixture to the ceiling that needed a wrench to be loosened.  I scored the paint where the fixture met the ceiling so that it would come loose from the ceiling easily.


The fixture still hung close to the ceiling, so I pulled gently to take a peek a the wires and box, and that’s when I got an unexpected surprise!


It’s extremely old!  Old wires, old plaster, old electrical box.  Old, old, old!  Even if I could have figured out which wires are which, the box doesn’t have a crossbar for the new fixture to screw in to.  I’m also missing electrical tape and should probably use wire caps anyway.  I think this will be a project for the super or an electrician.

Since the new fixture wasn’t going to be installed that day, I had to put the old one back together…

Back in when the bolt and the center tread to hold the fixture to the ceiling.  Then came the light bulbs.  As I was installing the second bulb, I noticed that the socket seemed loose.  Upon closer inspection, I realized it was missing a screw to hold the socket in place–the mysterious metal piece that attacked me!

I got down on my hands and knees and started looking for the tiny screw with an iPhone flashlight.  I found it hiding under my dining table (it’s the tiny speck to the right of the table leg in the picture below).


It took some finesse, needle-nose pliers, and a small screwdriver to get it into place, but I was able to secure the socket.


Once the light bulbs were in, the glass shade, metal plate, and two bolts were the last pieces to put the light back together.  I turned the breaker back on, and the light worked!  A small victory in this learning experience.


And for now, my fancy new light will continue to sit in a corner, waiting for the day when it can finally be installed.


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