Wednesday, May 7, 2008

We have light!

When I would tell people we were rewiring our house, they would almost always have the same reaction: something relating to blowing ourselves up, starting on fire, or electrocuting ourselves. Which, when my dad and Kevin were first talking about rewiring the house, was my reaction as well. I mean, it does sound like a scary project. Especially for someone whose electrical understanding consisted of teaching fifth graders how to make a flashlight out of pop cans and duct tape.

What I realized, as the project went on, however, was that it's actually pretty simple, and pretty benign. Kevin says it's like paint-by-numbers. As far as danger goes, it's hard to mess up rewiring to the extent of starting your house on fire. And the house is much safer now than it was before. The smoke detectors are hardwired together so if one goes off, they all will. We put in arc-fault circuit breakers for all three bedrooms. Also, the whole thing was checked by an inspector.

The only scary part was when Kevin installed the circuit breakers. The main power to the house is shut off, but there is still live power coming into the box. It is considered safe to work on, as the power would be pretty hard to accidentally touch, but it still made him nervous. I sat on a five-gallon pail beside him for moral support, though I was armed with a wooden broom handle and a cell phone. We flipped on each circuit breaker together.

I think the whole project came in a little under a thousand dollars. Most of that cost was in the circuit breakers and wire. The boxes, outlets, switches and cover plates were all pretty cheap, but we installed over fifty.

Light fixtures were one of the least expensive aspects, actually. I rewired the originals from the upstairs, and (gasp!) spray painted them antique bronze. Before anyone freaks out, they are metal, not worth a whole lot, and pretty darn ugly. Now, I think they look quite nice. I would say they were each about ten dollars to restore. I also rewired the cool porcelain fixture that used to hang in the foyer. It's going in the downstairs hall. The new foyer light is the one at the top of this post. It was cheap at the Depot. Don't mind the bad plaster job in the photo, just hasn't been fixed yet.

Anyway, point being, electrical work is not so scary. Especially once you're already in over your head financially and your moral has been strangled by extension cords. We've decided to take a project break and build up funds and energy. One can only go so long peeing by camp light before the ripped-up house thing gets old.

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