Posts Tagged ‘electrician’

Light Fixtures With Small Bases Are Difficult To Work Around

August 30, 2017

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On some light fixtures, the base is barely larger than the electrical box or its mounting plate, so it won’t cover any imperfections in the wall, and it’s essential that the wallpaper comes up exactly to the very edges of the mounting plate.  I often remove that mounting plate so the paper can go under it, which gives a neat look.

In this room, the light was changed from one fixture centered over the sink to two wall sconces.  The electrician had a hard time fitting the new boxes into the wall.  (It is much easier on new construction.)

There are a lot of things going on wrong with these sconce settings, but some are not visible and are difficult to explain.  It took me about an hour to figure out what was going on, and how to rectify a box that was cattywhompus in the wall – but that’s a different story.

Here you see a gap because the sconce base is too small to cover the hole for the electrical junction box.  This fixture had a larger (3/4″) gap on the other side that is not pictured.   In the next photo, the box is extra large, and extends out beyond the small sconce base.

I had to cover up those gaps to make a solid base for the wallpaper to hold on to.  In the case of the blue box, I had to smooth over the ridge caused by the thickness of the blue plastic against the wall (to prevent a ring from showing under the wallpaper, all around the fixture).

To bridge the gaps, I used a certain kind of paper, dunked in Gardz, a penetrating wall sealer that dries hard.  That essentially recreated the portion of wall that had been cut away.  Once that dried, I skim-floated over it with joint compound and then sanded smooth, to even everything out.

I used joint compound again to float all around the ridge on the blue box, and got a perfectly smooth wall.

Since I had been able to remove the mounting plate, I was able to get the wallpaper to fit under it, so no gaps showed around the base.  Then I reconnected the wires and rehung the sconces.

As you can see in the finished photo, it turned out great.

 

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Electrical Box Placement Throwing A Wrench in Wallpaper Job

January 25, 2017
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Here is a double-sink vanity in a master bathroom (Photo 1). For this post, we are focusing on the right sink and light fixture. In Photo 2, the original light fixture has been removed. It was a “bar” type fixture, meaning that it had a backplate and front cover that were rectangular (bar) shaped, and you can see the outline of that by the different paint color in the Photo 2.

In Photo 2, you also see the electrical box in the wall that supplies power to this light fixture. It is not centered over the sink. That was OK, because the original light fixture was centered over the vanity, not over the individual sink. The electrical box was not centered over the sink. This could be because there is a stud in the way, or because it was centered over a previous, pre-remodel sink that was situated differently, or because the electrician was lazy.

Either way, it didn’t matter, because an extra length of electrical wire was added, and the bar fixture was long enough that it could be moved horizontally to the desired position over the sink, and it was perfectly centered and looked wonderful.

The problem came when my clients, new owners of this ’50’s era, mid century modern ranch style home, wanted to install an updated, sleeker light fixture Photo 3). This new fixture has a canopy (front plate) that is plenty large enough to cover the electrical box. But it is NOT large enough to cover a trip horizontally across the wall to a point centered over the sink.

Which is another way of saying that if this new light fixture is positioned over the sink, as the homeowners want, it will not cover the electrical box, and the electrical box will show. And plus, the connections will not meet safety codes.

This leaves the owners in the hapless position of either living with the new light fixture slightly off-center over their sink. OR they can have the electrical box moved to exactly centered over the sink.

This is sometimes more easily said than done. There may be a wall stud in the way that prevents repositioning the electrical box. If the box can’t be moved, and the electrician elects to run a wire along or through the wall, there will be cut-up Sheetrock, and patches and possibly humps in the wall. Lots more complications that electricians and Sheetrockers know that I don’t.

And it caused the homeowner to have a delay in the installation of their dream wallpaper. I can’t hang wallpaper until the box is moved and the wall is repaired. And more cost top to pay the electrician – on top of the new wallpaper, new towel bars and light fixtures, and labor to install all of this.

Probably the worst part is having the wallpaper install scheduled, then not being able to move forward, and then having to scramble to find a qualified guy who can get the lights positioned correctly, and all with a quick turn-around, so the wallpaper install can happen within a reasonable time of the original install date.

Moral of the Story: If you are going to change light fixtures (or any fixtues), it’s a good idea to do this before the new wallpaper goes up.

A Little Creative Wiring

January 6, 2016
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I am working in powder room in an expensive home in a brand new subdivision in far northwest Houston, built by a big-name tract home builder. I have removed the wall-mounted light fixture and found this … The horizontal bar is the mounting bracket for the light fixture, and the round tube is the nipple that holds the fixture in place. No on to the electrical wiring …

Electrical connections are supposed to be enclosed in a plastic or metal electrical box. As you can see, there is no box in sight.

The wires were fished through the wall and pulled through a hole, sans box, and then connected to the light fixture.

The other problem is, the wires you are seeing are not the 12 or 14 ga. AWG copper wires that carry the household current that the light fixture is supposed to be hard wired to. Instead, thinner braided wire has been used to make connections somewhere inside the wall, hopefully inside a proper box, and then pulled through the wall and connected to the light fixture. You might also notice that these wires are silver (aluminum?) instead of copper.

At least there is a ground wire.

I suppose the electrician did this so he could center the light fixture over the sink. The subdivision may be outside any incorporated city limits, so possibly there are no governing building codes. Either way, I doubt this would pass code in Houston, or any city with an attnetive Building Inspector.

Yes, Virginia, the Electrician IS in My Way

November 11, 2015

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I guess people think that, if they’ve got one workman in the house, they may as well have them all come, and get everything done at the same time. The thing is, it’s really hard to work with all these trades on top of one another. I didn’t know the electrician was going to be hanging a chandelier in the same room where I was working, or I would have set up my table in another location.

You see, he is in my way. We’re both trying to walk around the room, and running into each other. He is working almost directly over my table, sawing a hole in the ceiling, and getting debris on my table, and, if I happen to be pasting a strip of wallpaper, that puts little bumps stuck in the paste that show under the new wallpaper. People also tend to set things on my table. That get in the way and put stains on the wallpaper.

“If your table is in his way, we’ll just move it a little,” said the homeowner. Oh no you WON’T touch my table! First and foremost, you just simply do not ever touch another workman’s tools or equipment. Second, that wallpaper table has to stay pristinely clean, and I know for a fact that his hands are not. Third, the table is made of three boards that come apart, which you are not anticipating, and there is also an expensive straight edge suspended underneath that you are not aware of that will fall to the floor and get banged up and ruined.

Oh, yeah – and he turned off the lights in the room, too. Now, how am I going to hang wallpaper in the dark? ?? ???

The electrician didn’t bother to put a drop cloth under his ladder. And in the second photo you see how he left the homeowner’s floor.

Now, would you let a guy like that put grubby his hands on your clean, expensive, intricately-set up equipment??

Twice In a Week – Addendum to My Post Two Days Ago

May 29, 2015
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Tuesday, I couldn’t finish my job, because painters were in the area where I was to work. (See my post of May 27, 2015.) Today I run into the same thing, but with electricians.

In the foreground in the photo, you see my tool box (with rags on top of it), and I have set my roller tray on it, preparing to start rolling wallpaper primer onto the walls. Look again and you see that the electrician has dumped his trash (cardboard and a light bulb) into my clean roller tray.

To the right of that is the box to the new fan I just spent $70 on. On top of that, the electrician has set his box of light fixtures. I can’t get my fan, I can’t get to my tool box, and I can’t prime walls. Even if I could access my equipment (and hopefully it’s still clean), I can’t move around the room because there are two guys pulling electrical outlets, turning the lights on and off, cutting holes in the ceiling for can lights (raining dust and Sheetrock debris onto the floor), and standing in my way.

Oh, and they set stuff on my ladder, too.

All this ate up at least two hours of my morning.

Grrrrrr!!!!

Good Job, Mr. Electrician – NOT!

February 15, 2014

Digital ImageIn the bathroom where I was working today, the electrician installed this light fixture. See the bottom of the round electrical box, exposed below the fixture? This box is supposed to be covered by the light fixture, or covered with a UL-approved material.

This was done while the guy stood on the homeowner’s new marble countertops, including the very fragile 2″ lip in front of the sink.