Monday, April 03, 2006

Lights In for the House, Lights Out for Me

The last two weeks of long work hours and non-stop work on the house finally caught up with me Saturday night. I crashed hard and ended up sleeping away most of Sunday. I still crummy today but I'm at least well enough to sit in front of a computer for the moment.

The last thing I did Saturday night before passing out in my bed was install the last of the recessed lights in what is now going to be the kid's playroom. That makes a total of 31 recessed lights that I've installed (along with two speaker cutouts). And I hope I never have to do any more.

Our home's ceilings are drywall over plaster backed with lathe so cutting the 6" hole for each light is an ordeal that can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours per light, depending on what's behind it in the attic. Our master bedroom's four lights were the worst - there was a 2"x8" in between the rafters and it took me a whole weekend to drill out the holes. My cordless drill battery is only good for 20 minutes of constant use and swapping to the spare battery got me another 20 minutes. The batteries would get so hot that I'd have to put them in the freezer before I could recharge them.

And drilling the holes was half the battle - after the lighting cans were installed in the ceiling, I then had to wire everything up in the attic. That generally meant spending an hour or so (per room) on my stomach in 100 years worth of dust and cellulose (thank goodness it wasn't fiberglass) insulation. Wearing a dust mask helped a bit with the dust but nothing could help with the heat in our attic (over 110+ in the summer/fall).

So now all that is left, is the two-person job of permanently securing the cans into the ceiling. The clips they come with are designed for 1/2" drywall, not the 1 1/2" of ceiling materials we have. So instead I have to screw through the cans into wooden blocks and assistant holds up in the cieling. In the past Holly's dad was been the (un)willing assistant but I'm hoping to press our boarder, Alex, into service this time.

Hopefully I'll dig up some pictures of the process shortly though I'm sure you've heard more than you ever wanted to hear about installing recessed lights.


At 10:43 AM, Anonymous eli said...

Any suggestions for running lights so they work on the single light switch at the top of the stairs? We want to install recessed lighting in our basement. Currently one light works on the switch and the other has it's own switch. Both have to be "dug" out of the ceiling in order to do any work!

At 12:54 PM, Blogger Holly said...

Ahem. My Dad is more than willing to help with the lights. The poor guy spent has spent hours in the attic with -- and without -- you sweating up a storm in the heat to install the attic stairs, do lights, etc.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Right, but your dad has also been constantly sick with something nasty in his lungs. So I don't want him back up in our attic again if I can help it. The original plan was always to have me in the attic but your dad wasn't comfortable balancing on top of my ladder (to reach the 12' ceiling) so we switched places. Hopefully either Alex or your dad will be comfortable on my new ladder and I can be the one up the attic.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Eli - depending on your ceiling and where the lights are located relative to each other, you may be able to fish a line from the switched light to the one on its own switch. You could then wire them both on to the same switch. Of course, you need to be sure and either remove the other switch and its wiring or properly terminate it. If (and this is a big if), they were both on the same circuit and the both had 3 wires, you could possibly wire them both with three-way switches - then both of the lights could be switched from either switch.


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