Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Let There Be Light!

My garage is not a pretty place.  There are all kinds of paint splashes on the floor, and tools hung on the wall. The drywall needs patching, and one wall isn't even taped and bedded - yet. But my friends, I have a dream, that one day, my garage shall be judged not by the projects that have been created there, but by it's own merit.  That's right, someday soon, my garage will be not only functional, but beautiful. And insulated.

It being January, when I was painting my brand spanking new kitchen cart, I was doing it in the comfort of my garage.  By comfort I mean it was about ten degrees warmer than it was outdoors, and I was at least dry and out of the wind. But that was nothing compared to my lack of lighting. My garage was lit with one bare bulb in a ceramic socket.  What's more the light fixture is very near the door into the house, so one whole half of my garage was shadowy.  This does not make for good working conditions when you're painting. So I ended up hitting my garage door opener button every 3 minutes to get the light to come back on. You can imagine this caused some frustration on my part.  I vowed to replace my single bulb with something more... Well, more.  And so the journey to Bart's Barn began.

When I was a pre-teen, my mother relented and let me have a two piece bathing suit.  When we went shopping for one, I had an image in my head of the perfect black bikini, and I was on a mission to find it. After an exhausting afternoon and a dozen stores, we did find a bikini for me.  It was not black.  I was sorely disappointed, and never noticed how awesome I looked in my new suit. From then on, whenever I've headed to a store with something I want already pictured in my mind, I've said I'm looking for the black bikini.  This does not work at Bart's Barn. I had in my head a god-awful brass chandelier.  Yes.  A chandelier.  In my garage.  No I'm not crazy, I'm a genius.  Didn't you get that memo?  Of course I was going to spray paint it.  I had orange in mind, but I might have switched to yellow at the last moment.  I was looking for something like this.

I did not find something like that. Instead I fell in love with something else. And I couldn't bear to paint it, not even orange.  Meet my new chandelier. 

Ok, I am going to tell you how I went about installing this beauty.  If I inspire you to buy your own chandelier for your garage, and install it, and you somehow get your fool self electrocuted, I am not liable. So don't come suing me.  I'm broke anyhow. 

First, I opened the garage door, to get some light in there. Then I turned on my bare bulb.  I had a buddy switch off circuit breakers one by one until the light went out. I took the further precaution of then switching off the bare bulb.  I unscrewed the light bulb, and the porcelain socket, and gently pulled it away from the ceiling. After removing the wire nuts, I took my volt-o-meter and tested that there was indeed no significant electricity running through the wires. 

I'm here for your protection.

Now this may sound a bit like overkill, but I did not want to end up looking like Crazy Harry. You know, this guy.

When I had done all that, I decided it was safe to untwist the wires of the porcelain socket and remove it.  Now I had a big gaping hole in my ceiling. 

I was careful to remember which wires had been twisted together, and which hadn't.   Now it was time to get my swag on. I wanted to swag my chandelier so that instead of being right in front of the door, the light would be more centered. Which means that I needed a hook, and a joist. I have no shortage of hooks.  I don't know what was up with the previous owner of my home, but they had hooks all over the place in the ceiling.  Seriously, there are 3 in the ceiling of my powder room alone. 

I really hope these were for hanging plants.

So I unscrewed one from the living room, identical to the one that was holding another hanging light.  Logic says if it supports the weight of the hanging light in the living room, it can support the chandelier, right?  Well, it hasn't fallen yet.  Now I had a problem.  There wasn't a joist located in the ceiling anywhere near where I wanted to put my light.  So I cut a 2x4 to the width of the space between the joists, and nailed it in place up in the attic. And there is no way I'm showing you my attic. You seeing my garage is bad enough.  So you'll have to trust this very official drawing I did on the back of an envelope. 

Then I did a little power drilling, and hung the chandelier from the hook. Now it was time to wire.  The chandelier had two wires coming out of it.  My electrical box had two sets of wires in two wire nuts coming out of it.  I stripped the wires on the chandelier, twisted one wire from the chandelier to one set of wires in the wire box, and twisted a wire nut over everything. I did the same for the other wire, and screwed the bolt doohickey into the box where the porcelain socked had been.  And then the moment of truth.  I turned on the breaker.  And threw the switch!  Behold there was light, and it was good.  And then I crammed all the wires back in the electrical box and the light went out. So I got to turn off the power and retwist everything tighter.  I did that about three times before I successfully got the chandelier to work when everything was crammed back in the tiny electrical box. After that, I just had to screw the decorative housing over the bolt doohickey, and admire my handiwork.