Wonky wiring and a pair of pendant lights

At some point today, an electrical inspector will knock on my door. (Hopefully. It’s one of those “sometime between 8 and 5 things”). It’s been awhile since our electrician was here, but I’ve been putting off the inspection because my day job was requiring me to be in the office. I finally got a break at work and am working at home today, so the inspection can happen. I also finally got my fingers in gear to tell you about this update.

Matt and I had upgraded from the boob light in the kitchen to a school-house pendant some time ago. The fixture wasn’t in the right spot, though. It was off centre with the island and a single pendant didn’t look quite right.

Single school-house pendant over the kitchen island

I had ordered a second pendant back when we installed the first one (February 2014), but I didn’t want to tackle adding it on my own.

When we had the electrician here to move the light switch in the master bedroom, I had him relocate the existing kitchen light and add the second.

The wiring in this house is wonky. When the electrician took down the first pendant, I remembered exactly how wonky. There was no box to house the wiring. Instead, the fixture was attached to a couple of plates that were screwed to the drywall, and the wires–which wasn’t the right type either–just stuck out from a hole in the ceiling.

How not to wire a light

Obviously, it wasn’t right, but Matt and I had installed our new light anyways, knowing that we’d hire a professional to fix it soon. Well, soon turned out to be more than a year, but better late than never, right?

I was surprised when the electrician hypothesized that there was another light somewhere else in the ceiling. A close look at the drywall showed us a patch that I had never noticed. When he climbed up into the attic, he discovered the light (disconnected, thank goodness). This one had a junction box. It also still had the socket lamp holder attached to it. The light had just been turned so it pointed into the attic and not through the ceiling. What were they thinking???

Light fixture in the attic

The electrician drilled two new holes, inserted two new boxes and ran the new wires–and did all of it properly.

Wiring pendant lights over the island

I was happy to have a professional electrician fixing all of the mistakes. I was also happy that he was the one crawling around in the attic, not me. I like my DIY, but I’ve learned where to draw the line. Things that are beyond my skills or just plain unpleasant (and this hit both of them) are a clear time to call in professional help.

If you’re in the Guelph, Hamilton or tri-city area, I highly recommend Agentis Electric.

Electrician going into the attic

I did patch the hole in the ceiling on my own though (but I haven’t painted it yet). And here’s the finished product: pair of pendants, properly positioned–and properly wired–over the island.

School house pendant lights over the kitchen island

How do you decide when to bring in professional help? What’s the wiring like at your house? Do you have any light fixtures lying around just waiting to be installed? How do you handle lighting in your kitchen?

14 thoughts on “Wonky wiring and a pair of pendant lights

  1. It looks good! Our house in CA had all sorts of electrical weirdness to work on. We did some of it DIY, such as changing outlets and switches. However, we hired an electrician to move lines, remove the previous owner’s DIY nightmares, and fix anything that stopped working. Here at Blake Hill House, I hire it all out. The house is just too old for me to feel comfortable messing around with. We run into situations such as yours nearly every time we have something fixed. Our house was built pre-electricity! All of the knob and tube has been replaced with more “modern” lines and fuses, but I don’t know when that happened. It still could have been 50-60 years ago. 😀 Electrical code has changed many times since then. The question I ask every electrician is, “How likely is it that this house will burst into flames?” Ha!

  2. I try to hire out larger jobs that help me avoid being mired in a project for weeks or months. It also depends on what I like/feel comfortable doing. For instance I love woodworking, so I replaced my fence and have been upgrading cabinets and moulding myself, one room at a time. However, I don’t feel comfortable doing much electrical, so I usually wait until I have a list of electric jobs and then hire that out as a batch. Basically if I feel like I can tackle it in a reasonable amount of time and without too much stress, I’ll do it, but if I expect myself to be in over my head then I hire out. I’ve luckily never been disappointed with hiring it out. I don’t think you should be either, your kitchen looks great and the peace of mind that it was done correctly is worth it!

    • Good for you for tackling the cabinets and moulding yourself. That takes patience and skill–and honestly is not an area that I enjoy. Upgrades to trim and cabinets make such a huge difference. I’m sure you’re making a big improvement in your house.

  3. Wow that looks really nice Julia!

    We have said several times, in both our current house and my previous house, “What were they thinking!!??” It is scary what some people think is ok, when it is actually VERY dangerous!

    We very very seldom hire any work done. The only thing I can think of is when we hired electrical work that had to do with where it tapped into the house, and our power company required a licensed electrician before they would turn the power on. We tackle all of our projects. Steve is very skilled and not afraid to dig in. I just trust his judgement and usually learn a lot along the way! The only thing that really scares me is very tall roofs or 220V power. (Does Canada use the same power we do? For example, 110V is normal usage and 220V is for ovens, dryers, welders and such?)

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