I Got Electrocuted

I had a hunch I was going to need an electrician, but just like with the exhaust pipe, I did a ton of online research first. I watched videos on how to cut wires and how to move light fixtures from one location to another. Easy as pie…

I headed to Lowe’s to buy the twist caps and a junction box. The Lowe’s helper saw me in the aisle and asked if I needed help. I told him what I’d planned to do. His face was priceless. Yes, sir, I can do this. Do helpers give that ‘omg you’re insane’ look to men, too? I told him I just need twist caps and a J box. He told me that he was nervous he’d see me on the evening news, showed me the electrical tape that I should use with the twist caps and wished me luck.

Now that I had my stuff…

I needed to:

  • Cut and relocate the wires that were in the half wall (reminder: dining room light switch, phone line, 2 outlets, kitchen light switch, door bell, and a beige mystery wire)
  • Figure out why the dining room light fixture didn’t work
  • Replace dining room light fixture and add a dimmer
  • Relocate and replace kitchen light fixture
  • Remove huge security alarm boxes/wires from the entry way
  • Replace nearly all of the light fixtures in the house (this could be done later)

Here is what the half wall wires looked like:

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I started with the power. Duh. But wait! I forgot to mention that I think the person that lived here 2 homeowners ago was an electrician. I know it wasn’t the homeowner that I purchased the house from because he told me a story during closing on how he had an electrician come to the house to figure out why the garage lights weren’t working. It took the electrician that he’d hired 3 hours to find the GFI box for the garage. It’s located in the master bathroom closet – under a shelf – that is about 2 feet from the floor so you really need to crouch down to find it in there – FOR THE GARAGE?! Duly noted, sir. THANK YOU for that information.

The next clue that there was an electrician that owned this house previously is the electrical box. It’s pretty comical. Everything is labelled “lite.” It’s a total DIY/WTF electrical box.

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The labels make it pretty tricky to figure out which switch turns the power on and off in certain zones. Talk about Jimmy Rigged. To prevent any accidental zingers to myself I just shut them all off before I do any electrical work. Or so I thought…

Okay, back to the beginning. I started with shutting the power off. There were some wires in the half wall that were going to be completely eliminated. There were two light switches for the dining room so I cut and capped one off. No problem. I took pictures along the way, too. Just in case I needed to remember how to put it back the way it was.

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Next, the home phone line, gone. I actually didn’t know what the door bell wire was so I was going to come back to that one later. Then, there was a fat beige wire that made me really nervous.

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I went down to the utility room to see if I could figure out what it was hooked up to. Found it. My fricking furnace. You’ve got to be shitting me. I immediately saw dollar signs and knew there was no way around it. I would not risk cutting power to my furnace in January no matter how many YouTube videos I’d watched.

I Googled ‘electrician MN’ and found one that advertised for same day service. I called and we scheduled someone to come the next day. That was good enough. I was going to do as much as I could though, so I continued cutting wires. I skinned one of the electrical outlets to cap it off since I surely wasn’t going to need 2 of them without a wall there.

BZZZZZZZZT. I got my zinger. If you’ve never felt an electrocution from an outlet before, it’s like a scary vibrating tickle. It’s happens to also be a little bit extra scary for me because I’ve been SUPER electrocuted by a horse fence before. The electrical wire runs along the inside of the pretty and very normal looking fence.

Electrified Horse Fence

Electrified Horse Fence

The horse fence wouldn’t let go of my hand, but it was shooting the rest of my body outward. I’m really not sure what happened but the electricity finally shot me off like a cannon and I flew 12 feet and must have landed on my head because the migraine that came after that electrocution was a killer. PSA: Don’t climb an innocent looking fence to reach over and pet a horse, ever.

So far I had two strikes: furnace wire and a zinger. I gave up on the half wall wires and moved onto the dining room light fixture.

The dining room fixture was a ceiling fan that looked like a rocket from the 50’s.

Old Dining Room

Old Dining Room

I removed the glass dome and the light bulb, just in case it crashed. There were ~8 screws to undo before it would hang by wires. I knew it would be a heavy beast and I was prepared to have it balance on top of the ladder while I unscrewed the wires and had it all of the way removed. I got 7 of the screws out and the last screw was jammed because of the weight on it. I hopped off of the ladder to grab a different screwdriver, climbed back up the ladder, grabbed the fixture to position the screwdriver in the jammed screw and BAM.

My life flashed before my eyes. The beast was down, but not at all how I’d intended it to come down.

Have you ever felt a little insane? Like your adrenaline kicked in too much and you had an out of body experience? Or like you were so exhausted and overwhelmed that you couldn’t do anything other than laugh at the awfulness? I stood on the ladder for I don’t know how long just staring at the pieces of the ceiling fan on the newly laid hardwood floor. I remember laughing that insane kind of laugh and saying out loud, “well, that’s one way to get it down.” I walked away and left the pieces there, afraid to lift it and see what it had done to the hardwood floor. Here is a clip from the movie Money Pit. The last minute of the clip is the insanity I’m referring to.

Three Strikes: furnace wire, zinger and a light fixture crash that made me temporarily insane.

But, a few moments later I was back up on the ladder and ready to take down the kitchen fixture. This one was light weight and no big deal. I took pictures of how the wires were hooked up though because I wanted to be able to remember what went where when I was hooking up a new light fixture. Now that the junction box was exposed, I tried to loosen it and see how much slack I had with the wires above. I planned to move it about 5 feet NW so that it would be above my kitchen island. I tugged and pushed and finally caved on being able to do this one on my own. Again, thankful an electrician was coming the next day.

Stay tuned for my ‘Homework in the Dark For a Week’ post…

The electrician had a flight to catch.

 

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