Saturday, August 13, 2011

Best Laid Plans

I decided yesterday that I was going to be productive today. I warned Mike last night, so he could take cover if he wanted. His only question was, "So does that mean you're getting up early?" Isn't he just too much? Ha!

So after sleeping in until about 8am, I got up and announced my plan to install the doorbell today. We really hated the fake chime that was here when we moved in, and we took it down when we painted the place. It never went back up. So we've been doorbell-free for years now. A few months ago we purchased a $10 bell, but it's been sitting on the kitchen counter ever since.

Mike does not do anything dealing with electricity (except use it). So I'm the house electrician - I even have a soldering kit! Anyhoo, part of the difficulty is that the bell goes on the wall in the stairwell - like high up the wall. So Mike helped get the ladder stabilized on the stairs (with a cinder block and a stack of books - "Traveling Light" by Max Lucado managed to be on top of the stack, I kept noticing). And I climbed up to investigate what by all indications would be a simple install.

Hmmm....instead of the three wires I expected, there were six. Nothing labeled, of course. Not sure which circuit this would run on, and even though it's only supposed to be about 15 volts, I had turned off the stairwell and the bedroom circuits. That means I have no light. So I'm standing on a ladder that really isn't tall enough, balanced on a stack of books, with a flashlight in my mouth and not a clue.

After many trials and all errors, I got on the internet and confirmed that I was right - there should be only three wires. Unfortunately, that didn't help me with the reality I was looking at. I love these kinds of puzzles. So I turned it in to a story problem, drew some pictures, and tried again. Eureka! I got one button to work. But why not the other one? I figured out three of the wires. The other three were still in question. I also now know which circuit breaker I need off, and it's not the stairwell. So I can lose the flashlight.

After many trips up and down the ladder, to the circuit box in the closet, to the front door bell, to the back door bell, and back around, I finally got it working! I went in for my final trip up the ladder to clean up the wires, mount the bell, and put everything away. The bell broke. One of the main screws that the wires attach to (and to which I'd been putting wires on and off and tightening and loosening ad nauseum) popped out of its cardboard setting - and isn't going back. It breaks the circuit. I'm too tired to pull it all down and see if I can fix it. :P

So I know more about my doorbell's wiring than I did before, but I still don't have a working bell. Does it still count for a productive day?