If my latest home improvement saga was a horror movie, there would be a slow-motion bit as i noticed the dead bugs collected in the flickering fluorescent light fixture at the bottom of the stairs. Creepy music would play as i climbed up on a chair to pull down the diffuser panel – with the intent to shake off the crispy critters, and replace the flickering tubes…
“Noooooooo! Don’t do it! You’ll be sorry!”
From there? You know the rest…
The diffuser panel – being over 15 years old – was a bit of a crispy critter itself. It cracked straight through the middle when i tried to put it back in place after swapping out the fluorescent tubes.
“Ahh…”, i thought, “i can just buy a 10-pack of panels at the hardware store. Replace the lot of them. They’re all kinda yellowed anyway…”
A 10-pack of shiny new diffuser panels, for $80. Standard size, 48″ x 24″. Thinking that i could drop the back seat of the Civic and slide the box into the trunk – i was confronted with the reality that only half of the seat folded down. And the box didn’t fit… Hence, it could not be tucked in flat – to prevent breakage – but had to be wedged in through the rear doors at an odd angle, with the hope that the gentle torque i applied wouldn’t snap the panels into useless plastic shrapnel.
The box sat in my garage for a week, as i went about other business. Finally getting a few free moments to swap out the panels – i learned something about the word “Standard”. A “Standard” size diffuser panel, marked ” 4′ x 2′ ” is NOT, in fact, 48″ x 24″. Each side was short – and off the top of my head, i couldn’t figure out an easy way to rig them securely
without duct tape.
The standard panels are 47.75″ x 23.75″ – while the openings in my ceiling required 48″ x 24″ panels. Who knew? The only solution: custom panels.
Reloaded the box, torqued it, and stuffed it back into my car. The box kept me company while driving around for a few days before i found time to return it.
sexiest most helpful lighting department manager, i learned that custom panels would cost far more than i wanted to spend. Given that this guy was really smokin’ hot when i moved in, i’d planned to replace all of the fluorescents downstairs with can lights, i decided to check out his can lights.
Invariably, this led to a meeting with an electrician for an estimate on re-doing all of my downstairs lighting – including installation of a light for my billiards table. This light has been resting comfortably underneath my billiards table since i bought it. Three years ago…
“Oh, while you’re here – how much would you charge* to replace the ugly light fixture in my dining room?”
“Ya know, if i get rid of that ugly light, i will need to replace the ceiling fan/light in the great room. How much for that?”
Followed shortly thereafter by:
“i always bang my head on the light in the kitchen. Can you add that to the estimate?”
As i awaited the six-part labor estimate for the lighting job, i started shopping online for fixtures. “i like that one! What? It’s not available at this store?” Now racing about on another lunch hour to retrieve the last-remaining, discontinued ceiling fan in the city from a store across town.
“Ya know, i REALLY should go with the LED lights…” Sure, they cost more up-front, but they last 10 years and burn a helluva lot less energy. “$600 for sixteen of them?”
At this point? What the fuck? Somewhere between discovery of the non-standard diffuser panel and the bit where i decided to have the entire downstairs re-wired, it’s become a major renovation project.
Two months – and a serious divot in the check book later – there is a moral to this long-winded story:
Never clean anything in your house. It can only cause you trouble.
Hmmm… My patio door – the one the dog knocked out? i should probably replace the screen… and maybe the window, too…
* Circuits aren’t hard – i can do electrical work. But the fact is, it scares the crap out of me. When you replace a toilet, you don’t lie awake at night wondering if it will burn your house down… After i did the microwave oven installation? i checked the batteries on my smoke detectors EVERY WEEK. From now on? i leave the electrons to the professionals.