Hi there.  Guess what I did on the weekend?  Yeah, my kitchen light.  At the end of summer one of the 48 inch flourescent kitchen light fixtures stopped working.  At first I thought it just needed a new tube.  I replaced them, but found out that the real problem was the fixture had been “repaired” by some previous homeowner with duct tape, which was no longer holding the thing together. 

I tried doing the duct tape thing, thinking that if it worked before, why not now?  Well, I don’t know why, maybe they had a better brand of tape, but my tape wouldn’t hold.  The things it was not holding together were the gizmos at the ends of the fixture that the tubes are inserted into.  If they don’t hold properly, the connections aren’t firm and ergo – no light.

So, I was busy, and it was summer, and here it is light until freakin’ 10:00pm in the summer, so I thought I’d deal with it when winter came.  Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow, right?

Ok, so last weekend I had scheduled to deal with the light fixture, knowing that no job goes without complications, and if you think you can do a job in an hour or two, it will inevitably end up taking two days, which is basically what happend.

So, I figured out which breaker switch turned off the power to the kitchen lights.  Another task the previous owners of this house never did.  What, label the breaker switch box?  A waste of time – its more fun to run around flipping breaker switches until you get the right one, right?  Geeshh.

Next, I took down the fixture – which involved disconnecting the twisty wires that connect the fixture to the power cord thingy coming out of the ceiling. (I hope I don’t confuse you too much with my techie language.) 

After that, I went to the local hardware store to buy a new fixture.  Now is where I began to get nervous.  We have a great local hardware store that is family owned and has more clerks than you can count standing around being helpful and knowledgeable.  I should tell the name – Hardware Sales, in Bellingham, WA.  They are awesome.  Everyone there actually knows about stuff and is happy to tell you stuff.

This is why I began to be uncomfortable about my do it yourself project.  The very helpful young man who found the right fixture for me stood there looking at me (I could read his mind : female customer – does she know what she is getting into?).  No, of course I didn’t.  What he said was:  “Do you know how to put this together?” 

I replied: “Uh, aren’t there directions?”

His response: “No”

I then spotted some directions printed on the outside of the box.  I pointed to these and said, “Oh, yeah, there they are.” 

So, I happily went off with my purchase thinking I could do this.  Little did I know the learning experience I was getting into.

So I go home and open the box.  The light fixture was in pieces.  It wasn’t even wired.  I saw this was going to take more thought than I had anticipated.  I looked at the “directions” on the box.  Nothing about wiring the inside of the lamp.   I looked on the internet and wasted about half an hour, because as everyone knows, this is so obvious it doesn’t require directions.  Can I shout when writing?  Assume that I just did.

Finally I spotted some comments on one website that said something about wiring diagrams on the ballast box.  I am so proud of myself.  I do know what a ballast box in a flourescent fixture looks like.  So I went out to the living room where my fixture was laying on the floor in pieces and looked at the black box.  Did you know they make those boxes really small now?  Guess what size the wiring diagram was.  Just guess . . . . no I’ll tell you; about 1″ by 1/2″.  It was just slightly bigger than the directions on an aspirin bottle.

However, I stared at it and figured

Flourescent ballast box
Flourescent ballast box

out what it was showing me and viola!  I got it.  I wired the little bastard, oh, excuse me, the flourescent light fixture, and it was relatively smooth sailing from there.

I now have light in my kitchen, thank you very much!

The hamster can do it all.