I have always been jealous of people who could work a drill. I just don’t have that talent. Both of my grandfathers did. One was a brick engineer and the other one ran a successful construction company. Well, they’d be proud of their grandson today because I just finished installing a light fixture in my bedroom and it only took me two weeks and so many trips to Lowes that I now qualify for part-time benefits.
I just moved into a brand new apartment. I am the second person to live here and the first was a little old lady who only used it to play bridge and go to the grocery store. This place is so new, on half of the power outlets there are USB ports. One thing it didn’t have however was an overhead light in the bedroom. It was wired for one (don’t worry, dummy didn’t try wiring) but there was not a fixture. In the kitchen, there are eight lights. Eight. No lights in the bedroom but enough for a Jewish holiday in the kitchen. Since it was already wired, I guess they left it up to Dud Villa here from This Old Disaster to install my own fixture.
Honestly, I didn’t think I could or would ever install a light because the last time I tried something like this I found out the hard way that screws need anchors in drywall to hold
up a towel rack. But I was rolling through Costco one day and saw a LED light fixture that at the very least looked like I couldn’t kill myself installing it. Boy was I wrong.
Like Christine Baskets, Louis Anderson’s brilliant character on the otherwise unfunny show Baskets, I think everything from Costco is great. So I bought the light on spec and hit the sample counters to finish my trip. The fixture cost $40, so it wouldn’t be a huge loss if I failed. Besides, everything can be learned on YouTube and I was brimming with confidence after that towel rack was reinstalled properly. I’ve learned that when I do projects like this it takes me two tries. One full of utter stupidity and failure and the second attempt a success because of the lessons learned from the first time. This would be no different.
YouTube really is incredible. I searched for this specific light fixture and there was a few videos explaining exactly how to install it. Well, they explained how to install it under the assumption that the viewer would know basic things like how a toggle bolt works which was incorrect, as you will learn later. The light came with an “easy install kit” which I felt was misnamed since it didn’t include a little easy install guy to just do it for me while I ate a pile of Costco rotisserie chicken salad. No, the kit should have been named the “sorry, but you still have to do it with tools and stuff so you’re screwed” kit.
You would think that connecting the wires would be the hardest part of this install since connecting it to the wall only needed four holes and four screws but you would be wrong, sir. The wiring was the easy part. I guess enough schmucks had fried themselves over the long history of electricity that they have made wiring (almost) fool proof. Black goes to black, white goes to white, grounding wire and you’re either at a David Duke luncheon or installing a light. I did that first try, no problem. I was so proud of myself that I decided to turn the power on and connect the light and leave it hanging by the wires to see if in fact it worked. It did and I didn’t kill myself. I really was proud. But that feeling was fleeting as I turned to the hard part, the holes. I should have just left it hanging by the wires.
It’s just four holes, screws and a wall. The Egyptians built the Pyramids 500 miles from the nearest quarry. All I had to do was drill 4 holes and screw something into it. Well, I wish the Egyptians had been there to explain to me how a toggle bolt works because that som bitch is what derailed this whole project. My locust, if you will.
A toggle bolt is used to hang something in drywall (duh, since that’s what I was doing with it). It’s a long screw with a nut attached that has a spring in it. When the nut is inserted into a hole in drywall, it springs open on the other side to hold the screw in place. This is what I really didn’t understand until it was too late.
The directions called for a drill bit that was obviously bigger than the provided screws. Looking at the diagram, I thought the nut went between the wall and the mounting plate like most nuts do; not actually behind the wall, like toggle bolts do. So after I drilled the holes, I thought I had screwed up and used the incorrect drill bit and the holes were too big and this is stupid and I’m going home. But then I remembered the lesson I had learned from the towel rack: screws need anchors!
Duh, the geniuses at Feit Electric had just assumed that I knew that I needed wall anchors to go in the too-large holes for the screws. Follow? Well, I did. I followed my happy ass back to Lowes and bought some dang wall anchors for my dang screws and nuts. What I still didn’t realize was that the nuts with the springs in them were the anchors so when I went to screw them into the other anchors, they pushed the other anchors up into the ceiling making the holes even bigger and a dummy below very dusty.
I guess I should have quit right there. I was defeated by holes and my limited knowledge of toggle screws and drywall. Defeated until I remembered another Costco purchase and no it wasn’t the chicken salad, thank you very much. It was damage-free hanging strips for picture frames. Of course. It says that they’ll hold up to 16 pounds. The fixture isn’t that heavy. I know because I held it up and down and my internal scale told me that there was no way it was over 16 pounds. I threw away the friggin’ stupid toggle bolts, placed the damage-free strips on the mounting plate and hung that light for the last time. The light worked great for about a week and I thought I was a damage-free genius until it crashed from the ceiling this morning because apparently the tare button on my internal scale hadn’t been reset.
I promise, this is almost over. After I YouTubed “How to fix holes in drywall,” I decided to give the installation one more shot. I had thrown the toggle bolts away so I had to go back to Lowes and get some more. Obviously, the first time, I didn’t YouTube how to install the toggle bolts because I had the anchors and the damage-free strips and I’m a man so I don’t need no stinking instructions. But this time, after almost being decapitated by this fixture I was sure wouldn’t kill me, I decided to do a little more research. Once I discovered that the friggin’ nuts went into the wall, life seemed to make a little more sense. And even though the holes were made bigger by the other anchors, they would still hold the nuts, which was really lucky. Sometimes, it just works out.
I finally got home with the four proper bolts, with the proper holes available and a proper plan to install this light. I screwed the bolts in the correct way and went to insert them into the holes in the ceiling. In my haste, I inserted the first bolt without lining up the holes and because the mounting plate is rectangular and not square, I lost on of the toggle bolts in the wall because the other holes didn’t line up. Off to Lowes again I go for a fifth and final toggle bolt. If this didn’t do it, I was patching that drywall with tears and accepting my defeat.
Well, it worked. It fit. I didn’t kill myself and hopefully will never write “toggle bolt” ever again. I think the moral of this story is, it takes very little hardware to expose an unhandy zilch.