Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Electrifying our Kitchen

Thanksgiving weekend was so busy at Humphrey House that we're still recovering from the work. It began innocently enough by continuing some framing-related activities, and a touch of demolition as the remaining plaster and lathe in our hallway was removed so we could have a clean surface to frame from and also replace the old wiring. Then we started electrical work.

Our electrician friend Fred came by Saturday morning bright and early at 6 am and we began routing the conduit piping for our kitchen. After living in a kitchen for 2+ years with inferior lighting, I now realize how important this is. We used to have one center-mounted ceiling fan light, and a fluorescent light over our sink. The problem with a center ceiling light is that, while functional, there is no place you can go in the kitchen without having your shadow follow you and get in your work space. It's extremely frustrating!

Our new lighting plan will be much more robust with multiple schemes. We're installing a center fixture again, but this will be supplemented by pendant lights over the sink and the peninsula counter. We'll have four 4" recessed can lights (all that would fit in our 2x6 ceiling) focused on work areas like the stove and counters on either side of the sink. And most helpful, we'll have undercabinet lighting for a bright work area!

In order to avoid watching our electrical usage increase exponentially with the new lights, I'd like to get some LED strips for undercabinet lighting and dimmable compact fluorescent light bulbs, also knowns as cold-cathode bulbs (CCFLs not to be confused with standard CFLs). These now have a good color temperature (2800 Kelvin) so it won't give off a harsh white/blue light normally associated with fluorescents, and can screw into any existing light fixture and last even longer than standard CFLs (which of course have a longer life and lower consumption than standard incandescent bulbs).

Anyway, in the course of working this weekend, we discovered that the original wiring feeding much of the first floor ceiling fixtures was in very bad shape. Not originally a huge concern since we were redoing it all in the kitchen anyway, right?

Well, the problem is the wires in our first floor bathroom ceiling light, which serves as kind of a wiring hub, were overheating a bit and the old cloth insulation was all brittle and decayed at the touch. Ouch! So now we have to pull down part of the bath ceiling and try to find a part of the original BX that is in serviceable condition and try to reestablish the line for now. In the meantime, we've cut power to this dangerous line, which means no light for that bathroom, our temporary kitchen, foyer, or front porch until next weekend.


Jennifer said...

Ouch! Sounds like take-out for dinner this week!

Jim said...

Bummer about your wiring problem. We didn't have issues with our old wires overheating, but we *did* have to deal with unexpected circuit routing. (Results: no power in the one-and-only bathroom when we demolished the wall between the old bedrooms.)

The dimmable fluorescents sound pretty slick. Sadly, we can't use regular screw-in bulbs here in Title 24 land--As far as the energy commission is concerned, it's not a fluorescent light unless it's got a 4-pin base. :(

Julie said...

We'll take you out to dinner on Saturday! Since we will be looking for our own home in the area and then stopping by to see our friends that owe us big time, and treat them to dinner. Then we will help on our next project at Humphrey House, then a well deserved meal for all. Our only critera for buying our new home is LITTLE TO NO REHAB, we like our Humprey Home!