"I Don't Need Safety Equipment, Because I'm Homer Si-zzzzzzz-aaugghh!"
My house is old. No, no; old! Like, built in the 1890's old. So I have the joy of never having a simple, standard repair around the house. Nothing is ever simple. Luckily, I have Sylvana to do most of it (she's into that kind of thing), but I specialize in a few things: hooking up electronic equipment, putting up and taking down the storm windows and screens, replacing light fixtures, and other stuff like that.
So that's what had me up on a chair in the living room this past weekend. On last Thursday, the overhead light in the living room went out. Our son said he heard a little sizzling noise when the light stopped working. Of course, he told us that the next day...but, luckily, our house was not reduced to cinders. That boy ain't right.
After changing the bulbs and checking the circuit breakers and still being in the dark, I decided it must be a problem with the fixture itself. So we went to the Ho' 'Pot and picked up a new fixture for the living room (and a kick ass ceiling fan, as you read in my previous post).
Once we got home, I took down the fixture and found, to no surprise, scary, scary wiring. There was no junction box, the grounding wire was completely unattached to anything. My god, all the wiring in my house is like this. Best not to think about it, I guess. No scorch marks, though, so that was inspiring.
It took over half an hour to get the fixture changed out, but most of that time was spent by Sylvana and I discovering that the electrical grid to our house was laid out by a free-spirited and "out-of-the-box" thinker. One breaker controls the lamps in the living room and the overhead dining room light. Another one controls the outlets (but not the lights) in the bathroom and the kitchen light. In the end, I just decided to turn off all the breakers that controlled electricity in the living room and in all rooms that the living room is attached to.
Once that was done, changing out the fixture was easy and uneventful. Before I put the cover back on the fixture, I decided to turn on the breaker and see if the fixture worked at all. So I went down to the basement and turned all the off breakers back on...and the light worked! I quickly flipped the breakers back off and ran upstairs to finish the job, only to find the light still on. Yeah, that's right...I rewired the light fixture while it was still electrified.
That's why you always treat an electric wire like it's live (like I did), even if you know that it isn't. You know what's fun? Not getting electrocuted, that's what! Oh, and Skee-Ball...that's fun, too. When I gets rich, I'm gettin' me a Skee-Ball setup in my bippity-boppity-boop.