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.
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.