Friday, April 18, 2008

Flirting with Electricity

You might not know this but I am one of those tool belt divas. As a child, I preferred to play with my Roy Toy log cabin building set over my cabbage patch dolls any day. The process of creating or building always took precedent to whether or not Barbie was pissed off at Ken that day for not stopping and getting gas for the pink convertible.

To fuel my constructive fire was none other then my father who was once a master carpenter. He took me under his wing and taught me a few tricks of the trade that has been stored in my noggin amongst other stuff. :) Besides that, being a single woman with the power of Google at her fingertips, access to all the how-to tutorials is just a click of a button away, I have managed to stock up on some crafty knowledge over the years.

For the past couple of years my mother has complained that the fluorescent light in my bathroom emits this highly annoying buzzing sound. I never heard it so I contributed it to my mother hearing things instead of my inability to hear. :) Amazingly, when I got my cochlear implant I realized she wasn’t suffering from auditory hallucinations, the light really does buzz like a bitch.

Well, buzzy stopped working about three weeks ago. I’m not a princess by any means but I have a hard time functioning in the morning without some source of illumination. Since I am handy around the house my first thought was bulb blew. I took the old one to Home Depot and matched it up with a new one. I came home popped in it – Viola, it worked!

Three days later, it stopped working.

I kick start the process of deductive reasoning which led me to the possibility of a bad ballast (this thing that makes fluorescent light start, kind of resembles a big old bug). As it turns out, it takes just 20 minutes of your time and a quick trip to Home Depot to fix it. I was hesitant at first to replace the ballast – because it means messing with electrical wires.

Electricity + Cochlear Implant = The outcome can't be good.

The possibility of frying my mapping off the implant didn't sit well with me, actually the idea of being fried period didn't sit so well with me either . Therefore, I exercised extreme caution – I turned off the electricity off to whole house. Of course I had to do it when my mother was watching a movie that she has been waiting thirty some odd years to see. Whoops. I got down to business and dilly-dallied with the wires, a little cutting and stripping here and there. It was very simple: white-to-white, black-to-black, blue-to-blue and red to red. In the end, when I flipped the switch, it worked!

A week later, it stopped working.

I am getting tired of playing this game. I strapped my tool belt back on and waddled to Home Depot to pick up some switches and wire nuts. I decided to replace all three switches for esthetic purposes. I shut off power to the entire house again and started to rip the switches out of the wall and replace them – one by one. I screwed everything back together, turned the power back on and flipped the switch and my goodness gracious, great balls of fire I got light!!!

Now my outlet in my living room does not work :)


Anonymous said...

just wondering if those fluorescent fixture has those starter or ignitor?

I usually would replace those first instead of ballast or switch.

Abbie said...

Hmmm, is there a way of telling which is which?

Thank you commenting back on this :) I appreciate it

Valerie said...

I am banned from power tools. Lets just say there was a time with a chain saw! At least Alex did keep all his body parts, but I am banned from anything except a screwdriver and only the ones that are small.

I live for power tools!

Jennifer said...

Another toolbelt diva here! I don't know much about electricity, but I can assemble nearly anything. My hubby bought me my own set of Stanley screwdrivers one year for Christmas! :D

Sam said...

That is why they publish the Yellow Pages, dear...oh and did I tell you about the house down the block that burnt to the ground because the homeowner THOUGHT he wired....

Anonymous said...

Well, since you've declared your diva-ness, you could go the extra step and do your mom a huge favor, and label the circuit breaker/switches for the future....

Electrical stuff is easy, it's plumbing that's scary. At least electricity can't really "leak" in ways that make it nearly impossible to find...

Anonymous said...

*chuckles* i leave the fixing to my darling daryl as i wont go near it as im hopeless !!!
I stick to my domestic chores like an old hag !!!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, if this toolbelt divahood was a new phenomenon, I'd think there was a cause and effect thing going on with the new wiring inside: Li-Li has done a great job of rewiring or resetting the television sets, the DVD players, and our alarm clocks, and I'm all thumbs with the nest of wiring behind these things. But that hypothesis won't work given your history.

We've fried the mapping off Li-Li's processor last month, and just this past week -- the day a new one arrived from Cochlear because no repair was possible -- somehow we fried the other. No clue what we're doing wrong.

Nice work (um, except for the dead outlet).

Anonymous said...


Maybe this will help tell you which is which...

But I do realize that there are some that has built-in starter which can't be replace and not visible.


Unknown said...

I opened my enews from Hearing Loss Association today and I see a picture of YOU.



Geo said...

Tools, Home Depot... oh yeah, this is a blog NOW! ha!

Anonymous said...

What a hoot!! You write so well . . . I was on the edge of my chair wondering if you would succeed. Our very own Tim the Toolman Taylor.

Abbie said...

Li-Li mom,

Does she go down slides or anything that creates static electricity?

This could be a grounding issue like kids or the teachers at school might not be touching her hands or shirt first to ground themselves before they touch her implant, knowing kids being kids.

I was a rather gifted child with setting up the entertainment system and rewiring my mothers makeup mirror :) I guess that is how I got started with the computer field, this insatiable urge to poke and prod things :)

Abbie said...


I can't see any visible starter in the housing box itself, but I took a look at another light in the house and it has one but that one is fine. So far it is still working like a charm *fingers crossed* I have to call an electrician for the living room outlet issue :)

How the outlet in the bathroom connect to the living room? I haven't the foggiest. Thanks a lot for checking it that for me, you are a doll!

Cyborg Queen said...

Hey Abbie,
Another Handywoman here...:-) You know what I hate? Those tools with flower decals/patterns on them. Oh pluleze! Give me a break.
I love to tinker with stuff like that. I leave the electrical stuff up to Roy. I fixed our "running" toilet, fixed a few things here and there. Pretty soon, I will have a house of my own, so I have a bunch of things that I can fix!
I got a book, "Dare to Repair", and it has clear instructions on how to replace an outlet, fix an outlet, and figure out how a bathroom is connected to the living room. Kind of like The hip bone is connected to the leg bone, the leg bone is connected to the knee. You get the idea. :-) It has a bunch of other stuff that men tend to, "I'll fix it babe. I know what I'm doing." riiiiiiight.

You go girl.

Unknown said...

I am not good with tools. My wife is better in fixing things LOL

I am impressed. Can you come over and do ours? LOL