One of the first things I noticed about my house was that there were no lights in the basement. The fact that my house is over 100 years old and the basement is unfinished does not help the situation.
I knew I wanted to get lights down there but it wasn’t a priority. For months, I used a plug- in light and flashlight and my system was working well. I only fell a few times. After learning about basic electrical at my home maintenance course, I was inspired to give wiring a try! I messaged my godfather (who is an engineer) and asked if he’d help me in the basement. He’s a busy guy but eventually we nailed down a day and got to work. Luckily, he brought over all of his tools and materials. This included:
- A volt reader
- Wire strippers
- Electrical tape
- Electrical connectors
- Special staplesI had a few junction boxes, outlet covers, switches, plates and wire that we used as well.
The first step was figuring out what the heck was going on in the basement. We discovered 3 different circuits in the basement.
- 1 circuit had a few light bulb holders (known commonly as light bulb sockets) but no bulbs or switches attached. We tested the sockets and they had no power. This meant we needed to add the sockets to a circuit for power.
- We also discovered a circuit with power but no switches. Not even a string to turn the light on.
- The last circuit is still a mystery.
The discovery period took about 5 hours! We had to draw out the circuits, trace all the wires through the walls and cobwebs, and talk out our game plan. After a quick vegan dinner, we got back to work. My godfather did not seem impressed with the lack of protein- my bad.
After dinner, we spent another 5 hours connecting wires to the power, adding and testing circuits, and adding hardware (bulbs, switches, covers, etc.) One of our circuits didn’t work and short-circuited so it was back to the drawing board. Even though a 3-way switch was ideal, we were only prepared to install a 2-way switch and that really simplified the process.
What I learned about electrical is that it should not be rushed. I describe myself like a chihuahua sometimes. At times, I can be so hyper, and impatient so small details and planning aren’t always my strong suit. Working with someone who is meticulous, knowledgeable, patient and detailed was the only way I managed to spend 10 hours in my creepy, dark basement and get something accomplished. Typically I skip steps because I am so impatient and I just want to get things done. Skipping steps in electrical is not recommended, or you can electrocute yourself.