Saturday, July 21, 2007

Light Switches!

When Allen heard that I was going to write about our light switches, he got all technical on me, and wanted me to write about all of the strangeness related to our electricity - like the fact that as soon as we plug in a surge protector (the kind that tells you if your wiring isn't grounded) we get all sorts of bad news. But, I'm not really electricity savvy enough to deal with all of that. I just want to tell you what a nuisance all of our light switches are!

Here are some samples for you.

To go into our master bathroom, you have to walk through a small closet area. Now, I must tell you, having a closet is a luxury which is NOT to be taken for granted in Honduras, and I am NOT taking this wonderful closet for granted. But, the switches for the lights in the closet and in the bathroom are located outside of the door to the closet (in the bedroom). This makes it convenient for you to turn on the light before you enter, but it also makes it convenient for others to turn off the lights while you are indisposed . . . and perhaps you don't want to run out of the bathroom at that moment to turn the lights back on.

The other interesting thing about this same bathroom, is that there is a light switch inside the bathroom, conveniently located next to the door, just where you would want it to be. The only problem is, this light switch doesn't do anything. At all. At least, not so far as we have been able to discern. There is a back gate to our property (which we never use . . . we don't even have the key for it, and the doorbell by this gate doesn't work), and I have a theory that this switch is for the light fixture above this gate. Allen's theory, however, is that this switch is supposed to be a three-way-switch for the bathroom light. But I guess we'll never know . . .

Oh, in this same bathroom, there is a light switch high above the bathroom mirror. Since the mirror is actually the front of a medicine cabinet which sticks out several inches from the wall (another astonishing luxury item, I might add), you can't actually see this switch. (Well, I can't see it. But then, I'm only 5'3". It is possible that tall people might see the switch, as well as all of the dust on the top of the cabinet.) I doubt I would ever have known the switch was there, except that the landlady showed it to me. This switch works the bare bulb which dangles from a line running through a tree in our backyard.

The younger kids have a bathroom off their bedroom, and it has three switches on the wall, just inside the door (on the hinge side of the door, although it would have been perfectly easy to put them on the knob side). One of these (always the third one I try) turns on the ceiling light. The other two are simply there. Perhaps they are decorative, or perhaps there is some feng shui reason to have electrical switches in groups of three, that I don't know about?

Our kitchen has an exterior door, as well as a door into the rest of the house. There is only one switch in the kitchen, and it is beside the exterior door. When you need to enter the kitchen at night from inside the house, you must pass through the dark room to get to the switch. Luckily, with six children and three dogs in the family, it is rare for us to have stray objects strewn about, to trip over. . . sigh - don't I wish!

On the wall inside the front door of our house, we have a set of three switches for the interior lights in the main room. Since there are three ceiling lights (the lights in the room are for a living area, dining area, and unspecific wide hallway type area), this seems like an appropriate number of switches to have. However, each of the three switches turns on and off all three lights at once. At the other end of this long room, there is another set of three switches. These, amazingly, each work a different one of the three overhead lights. But, neither the switches by the front door, or the switches at the far end of the room will override the switches at the other end. If you had originally turned on the lights by the front door, then at bedtime you will walk past the switch at the other end of the house, and go back to the front door to turn the lights off at night. Then you will walk through the dark room to go to bed. (See above paragraph for info regarding kids, dogs, and randomly strewn objects.)

Ahhh, but of course, there is an alternative. While the lights are still on (because the front door switch is turned on), you can flip the switch at the other end of the house (provided no one has previously done this). This will appear to have no effect, but in fact, will result in the lights NOT going off when you turn off the switches by the front door. Then you can have light as you traverse the main room back to the bedroom, for some well deserved rest!

See how simple that was? I don't even know why I bothered to write this down.


La Gringa said...

We've had a few of those mystery switches when we lived in an apartment. The hall light by the back bedrooms was nice, except that you had to walk to the front door to turn it on or off which kind of defeats the purpose. After being annoyed in apartments by stupidly placed switches for three years, we went to the opposite extreme in our house, putting three-way switches (that work!) everywhere.

It is amazing that the "electricians" don't check whether the switches do what they are intended to do, or else just don't care. It also makes you wonder about what other problems there might be that you don't know about, doesn't it?

Trish said...

Ugh, La Gringa, we try not to think about those other problems. It's enough just dealing with the ones we know about!!!!!

Enjoy those three-way switches of yours!

Randall y Raquel said...

I know exactly what your light switch problem is like. Here in Costa Rica we have the same problem. My dad who is an electrician was shocked at he wiring. He saw nothing that was safe or that would pas the code in the states. Live wires running across the ceiling, light switch confusion, lights places in wired places like corners where you really prefer not to see the spiders that live there or the mouse holes and cockroaches, and live wires following the water tube to the shower head that heats the water. I don’t know how he resisted the erge to re wire everything.

Also I don’t know if you have all of your electrical sockets that are all connected on the same wire that runs outside the wall or not. But they are DANGEROUS. There are many sockets so you can plug in may different appliances right, wrong you can only plug in one or you are at risk of staring a FIRE. Most of the house fires here are because of the wiring. You’d think they’d get it eventually.

Aaron Ortiz said...

This is ridiculous, I'd laugh if it weren't so dangerous.