Kathy Petersen’s Blog

*I* have made *fire*!

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on June 3, 2008

Ok, so I didn’t quite make my own fire from my own kindling à la Tom Hanks’s character in Castaway, but together, my husband and I replaced two light fixtures and our Central Heat and Air thermostat! My husband did most of the work on the light fixtures (he’s taller, so it just made more sense for him to get up in the chair and fiddle with the ceiling), while I was his ever-faithful assistant (handing up screws, screwdriver, etc.). Then the roles were reversed while I did the thermostat.

We had wanted to do these things for quite some time — the thermostat face-plate has actually been broken off for probably over a year, and we repainted the bathroom (looks so awesome!) several weeks ago, but we never quite got around to doing these things. The problem? — it seemed like too much of a hassle, and really too difficult for us to do. While my dad grew up learning how to fix just about everything, and I learned a bit from watching him, my husband’s dad is more of the “call a repairman” kinda guy, so my husband didn’t have a chance to learn from osmosis or observation when he was growing up. Fixing these kinds of things appeals more to my personality, as well, so in general, I’ve been the one to do the repair work around our house.

Still, we’ve been putting it off and putting it off. Now, we’re planning on selling our house and moving closer to where my husband works (it’s an hour’s drive each way each day), so we’re finally getting all those little things done. With my husband off for the summer, it also isn’t so easy to put these things off by saying we don’t have time.

The first light fixture was easy — it was the same size and shape at the base, so my husband just had to pop the ballast that was already attached to all the wires in the ceiling out of the old base and into the new base, and re-attach the base to the ceiling. We didn’t even have to cut the power to the light!

The second fixture was a tad more difficult, because it was a bigger fixture and couldn’t just use the same bits. I killed the power, and then my husband did the dirty work of disconnecting and reconnecting the electrical wires, etc. It’s a great confidence booster to be able to do these kinds of things around the house… yet when it came down to changing the thermostat, my husband ran out of steam. He took one look at all the wires and walked off.

But that’s where I come in. I love puzzles, and it didn’t really look that complicated to me. And it wasn’t. It’s simple, but not exactly easy. The problem was that the wires had to be coiled around the little screws, and the new thermostat had barely enough room to maneuver the screws into the little slots they had prepared for them. No “elbow room” at all. I got the first one just fine, and thought I got the 2nd and 3rd ones in right, too, but then I realized that they weren’t under the screw head — just kind of around it. Sigh… So I had to take them off and try to coil them up right. Which is where my husband came in. He was able to fiddle with the wire with tweezers until it was right, while I screwed the screw back in. I’m not sure I could have done it without him. It certainly would have taken much longer. (Oh, and, yes, we cut the power to the thermostat. Since I didn’t know from the breaker box which switch went with the thermostat, we just cut the main. I had read one website saying that the wires that operate a thermostat are very low-voltage, but we didn’t want to take any chances. They’re probably completely separate, but I know that air conditioning uses a lot of electricity, and I didn’t want to bet my life on the belief that the person who wired the a/c originally did it right, y’know?

The thermostat we got is one of the programmable ones, so now I have to program it! Since I’m a sahm, I’m not sure I’ll actually use the programming feature most of the time — probably for when we go to church, and possibly when we know we’re going to be gone for the day — but I have to look at it to see if we can easily program it to turn on in, say, 2 hours, or if takes a lot of key-punching to manually set it for the day.

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