Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It Was the Best of Times ...

You know how they say sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better?

Well, here's one of those times:

What started as a quicky project to boost my DIY ego turned into a evening of running up and down the basement stairs, flipping fuses and cursing the gods for installing these crazy wires and switches that don't even make sense to my ELECTRICAL and computer ENGINEER husband.

So yeah. The yellowed dimmer switch quickly went from an easy upgrade to "why the hell didn't I just leave well enough alone?"

Here's the story: we have a kitchen light above the fridge. It used to be controlled by that dimmer switch below our security keypad. That was ok, but Chris and I use CFL bulbs, which aren't compatible with normal dimmer switches. In other words, our dimmer switch couldn't dim, and sometimes it made the light flicker. So all I wanted to do was replace the grungy dimmer with a nice clean white single pole switch. But then once I pulled the dimmer out, there was this extra wire in there and words like "common" and "hot" were thrown around by Chris and the interwebs, I got confused, none of the new poles worked (I bought two different kinds), and eventually I said "screw it, I'll put the dimmer back."

With me so far?

Well, I put the dimmer back in and then THAT didn't work anymore. Freaking great, right? So then we got to talking about the lighting situation. Because it's not just the dimmer that controls that light. There's also a switch on the other side of the room that also controls it. See that yellowy beige switchplate to the left of the door? One switch controls the back porch light, and the other the kitchen light above the fridge.

So Chris and I decided that it was pretty weird and pointless to have two switches three feet apart controlling the same light. And then sometime before or after this discussion, Chris discovered that the third mystery wire was the problem all along. It flaked out sometimes and that's why the switches we had tried didn't work, and why the dimmer failed once I put it back..
That's when we decided to hell with that switch and it's faulty wires! Chris capped off the wires, stuffed them back in their box and gave me the go ahead to patch up the wall. lol
So that brings us back to this:
In another interesting twist, turns out the kitchen has wallpaper on the walls and I never knew it. I had to cut it back around the drywall patch so that it'll be flat and smooth when I spackle it. But I was amazed that after all the time I spend in there, I had no idea that we had painted over wallpaper on the walls.
I guess maybe that's less amazing to anyone who hasn't had wallpaper in their house. But after the weeks I put into removing the worst wallpaper in the world from the hallway and the guest bedroom (you can read about those adventures here and here, here and here), I can't believe the stuff in the kitchen is so discrete and well-adhered that it looks like painted drywall. So kudos to whoever hung that wallpaper. They did a damn better job than the icky stuff in the rest of the house.
Hopefully that means this little patch job will be quick and painless .... (Why do I feel like I've said those words before? And why do they seem so ominous?)