Monday, November 15, 2010

In Which I Replace a Light Switch and Live to Tell the Tale

I've got a Jekyll and Hyde thing going on these days. There's the me that can read a shed-building book and then build a chicken coop from my own hand-drawn plans, and there's the me that would much rather sit on my boo-tocks and knit than make sure the house is vacuumed, or dinner is made at a decent hour, or that the bits and pieces of my house are in working order.  For the last four weeks, Boo-tocks Me has been using a piece of electrical tape to hold a wonky light switch in my laundry/powder room in the off position. Not really the same piece of tape; it needs to be replaced almost daily because the kids keep squeezing it so that it sticks to itself.  But the point is, Boo-tocks Me would rather keep cutting strips of electrical tape (and cursing when yet another one stops doing its job) than fix the light switch.

This morning, Chicken Shed Me clawed her way out from under the yarn pile and decided it was time to quit peeing in the dark and fix the stupid switch.  I collected some tools, turned the light and fan in question on (so I would know when I finally cut the power to said stupid switch), and went downstairs to visit the electrical panel. It would appear that whoever labeled the circuits when the house was built was feeling a little vague that day. Most of the label lines are written on, but the words seem more like suggestions than definitive statements.  For example, there are three bathrooms that get their electricity from this power supply, but it is not clear which bathroom goes with which circuit. Of the three switches that  would appear to pertain to the laundry room (Laundry, DRYER, and Bathroom Outlets), not one had the slightest effect on my busted light switch. Eventually I got tired of flipping the switches one at a time  and then marching upstairs to figure out where the power was out; I picked four switches that obviously related to the left half of the first floor and flipped them.  When I went upstairs, the correct half of the house was dark and quiet and I had learned that the laundry room light and fan are on the circuit labeled Office.  Go figure.

It turns out that not all light switches are designed in the same way, and I was briefly stymied by the differences between the old switch and the new.  The instructions didn't help too much since I didn't understand what the lines in the pictures meant.  I must have guessed right, though, because the light switch works properly now and I haven't noticed any unexplained sparks or zapping noises. I now take toddler-like joy in turning the bathroom lights on and off, and it's possible that I made a few extra trips to the laundry room just for the fun of using a working switch.  This has not yet translated to me washing any laundry, so I figure that Chicken Shed Me has been sent packing for a while. 

Oops, it's about time to make dinner. Anybody seen my knitting?


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