Tuesday, August 7, 2012

If at First You Don't Succeed, Give Yourself an Anxiety Attack

A few weeks back when we were getting insulation blown into our attics, we took the opportunity to replace a very difficult to get to circuit that was still knob and tube. The only thing that was on it was the downstairs hall light and the one of the upstairs hall lights but it required taking down the whole house fan which we DID NOT want to take down twice (this will be important later). It was also tricky because we wanted a switch downstairs and upstairs for these lights so you could turn them on if you were going up or down the stairs. 

To access the downstairs hall light and run the wire to the downstairs switch, Nate had to poke a Nate sized hole in the wall in the stairwell and use the ladder to crawl in and out... aka not fun. It took a few tries to feed the wires down the wall but other than that, the project went quite smoothly.... too smoothly. We even scored a new light for upstairs at Lowe's (it was in the clearance section and we were able to negotiate it from $184 to $35!) so everything was falling into place.

Did I mention that we were doing this the day before the insulation guys showed up and it HAD to be done before they blew the insulation in? I partially blame this fact on the reason we messed up. The rest of the blame goes on us not really using our brains. We thought that we checked to make sure the circuit worked before we patched the hole in the wall and put the whole house fan back together after the insulation was blown in, but we forgot a very important little detail... we only checked on light. The upstairs light worked perfectly which is the one we checked. Unfortunately, the downstairs light did not turn on. 

After trying to diagnose the issue, we finally figured out what was wrong. Here is a quick physics lesson. If you wire things in SERIES, then everything in that circuit gets the same current but not the same voltage. However, if you wire things in PARALLEL, it gets the same voltage but not the same current. So, switches are supposed to be in series with lights because all the do is allow current to flow or not. But, lights need to be wired in parallel with each other or else the first light uses a bunch of the voltage and there isn't enough left over to light up the second light. This is further complicated if you are trying to do a three-way switch and two lights. Anyway, our lights ended up in series and therefore the one downstairs wouldn't turn on. 

This was fairly frustrating since we had already closed everything up. Our options were limited on what we could do and after a few hours of getting over our frustration and figuring out what we wanted to do, we decided that the least destructive option (aka not taking the whole house fan down again) was to cut another hole; this time in the back of our linen closest. This allowed us to use all the wires we had already run and only required us to run one more wire. The only issue with this plan was that we didn't know for sure if the lower attic connected to the upper attic in this space so we just hoped upon hoped that it did and we would be able to get the wire through. 

This was the hole we cut in the closet. This was not a Nate sized hole, but according to Nate, was a Cassandra sized hole. I disagreed. I used to climb through our beagle's dog door this size when I was 10 and I barely fit then so I was fairly doubtful that I was going to even kinda fit now. It took a good 15 minutes of hyperventilating (did I mention I hate tight spaces?) before I even attempted it and then I got halfway through and basically screamed "what if I get stuck?!" The reason the hole was so small was because there were double studs on either side so if I did get stuck, Nate would have to not only do some major structural damage to the house, but he would have to use the saw right next to my body! This thought brought on more hyperventilation and after getting talked down by Nate I was able to use a stud to pull myself through (and just in case you're wondering I now have a very good reference for exactly how wide my hips are).

This is the very unattractive picture Nate took of me in my Winnie the Pooh pajama paints giving him a "I'm never getting in this space again" smile. It ended up taking about an hour an a half to feed the wire up, but the attics did connect and we did fix the circuit! Nate didn't have it much better since he had to crawl around in the upstairs attic with the newly blown insulation so by the end (at about 1 am) we were both very gross and very tired. I managed to get out of the hole with the help of Nate dragging me across the floor but it was all worth it to see the first floor light turn on! Who said DIY was easy?

Linking To: Hi Sugar Plum, The Great Indoors, House of Hepworths, My Repurposed Life, Our Delightful Home, Five Days Five Ways, Serenity Now, Lovely Etc., The Rooster and the Hen, Six Sisters Stuff, Tatertots and Jello, Wayward Girls Crafts, Twigg Studio, Serendipity and Spice, Ask Anna, Home Stories A to Z, Uncommon Designs, House wives of RivertonCrafty Texas GirlsSouthern InstituteWatch out Martha!www.myrepurposedlife.net/

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