Save water: Fix that leaky light switch

I fixed the light switch (Note: Welcome to Flashback Sunday! A weekly post of past columns from my early days on WordPress, before I realized that “Freshly Pressed” wasn’t a dry-cleaning blog.)

The great thing about shows like Extreme Home Makeover is that they inspire ideas on how to improve your home. The bad news is that people like me then try to implement these ideas without the benefit of a trained professional. The result is our bathroom, which currently has a commode with hot running water and a wall heater that can only be turned on by unscrewing the third bulb in our vanity mirror.

I’d like to point out it wasn’t my idea to take what had been a simple plan to increase the space in our bathroom and turn it into a major remodel. However, after one teeny mistake, my family insisted on a total makeover — which brings us to our first home improvement tip: The Importance of Bearing Walls.

You will discover that there are certain walls in your home — possibly even in the bathroom — which should not be removed because, as it turns out, portions of your home will collapse. As important as “bearing walls” are to your home’s infrastructure, they aren’t marked as such and, as a general rule, look just like other walls in your home. Which is why anyone who accidentally removes one, thereby inadvertently causing the total destruction of an otherwise functional bathroom, should be forgiven for this oversight.

So, let’s assume the worst happens, and you find yourself standing in the middle of the downstairs bathroom while surrounded by the upstairs closet. And let’s assume your family, in a show of support, still hasn’t insisted on hiring a professional. Such as a hit man.

The next step is to rebuild the bathroom — and your family’s trust — as quickly as possible. To do this, you’ll need organization and a basic knowledge of plumbing and electricity. If you don’t possess this knowledge, don’t worry! You will quickly gain it through practical experience, i.e., connecting the wrong wires and practically electrocuting yourself. Through this process of trial and error you will eventually be able to flush the commode without causing the outlets to spark.

The first step, however, is to clear the area of debris. Depending on the extent of damage to your bathroom, you may be able to do this quickly and easily by shoveling the debris directly through the floor and depositing it under the house. If a hole doesn’t exist, feel free to make one. If your spouse catches you, feel free to crawl inside and seal it up behind you.

Once the room has been cleared, it’s time to rebuild. Start with the bearing wall. Aside from its structural significance, it will symbolize the emotional healing process you are trying to foster with your family — and help avoid the need for a physical healing process should the bathroom be out of commission for more than 24 hours.

Next comes plumbing and wiring, which, I’d like to point out, should never been done at the same time. Sure, it may be faster and easier to run new wiring through an existing water line. But take it from me: If your pet occasionally drinks out of the commode, it’s not worth the risk. The same goes for any other shortcuts that could turn your morning bathroom visit into what looks like an episode of So You Think You Can Dance.

That said, I hope this advice has been helpful. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I’ll be happy to answer them as soon as I fix this leak in the light switch.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at, or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, Ore 97439)

Published by

Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

27 thoughts on “Save water: Fix that leaky light switch”

  1. this lost a lot of enjoyment in reading as i sit in the downstairs family room, looking at the floor of the upstairs bathroom, hovering over my main hallway foyer, complete with water corroded, dangling light fixture.

      1. probably the same rat bastard who used hockey tape and dental floss…i kid you not!…to fix the toilet plunger pusher down thingie..i am sure it has a name ..but i had a cocktail when i met my friend to give her pictures from our march break vacation…so i can;t remember its name or even care i can’y remember the name of it…lets face it..everyone who knows what it is, doesn’t need an explanation cause everyone knows what i meant…i took an informal pole on google plus

    1. You know, I kind of like the Commdoe a little better actually. It gives me the image of using a warm-water commode, but with the added feeling of being in the woods with a small deer.

  2. The only thing manly about me is that I can stand up to pee. This just solidifies the fact that, when it comes to any and all jobs around the house that require a handyman; I am not that handy, or that man, and I will more than happily shell out the cash for someone to do the work for me.

    The structural integrity and what little manhood I have left are at stake, after all.

    1. LOL! From one of the manliest men I know, Clint Eastwood: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Mine are somewhere beneath that bearing wall. Along with my manhood. Which is as painful as it sounds.

  3. I won’t even allow my husband to hang a picture. So, kudos to your wife for at the very least having enough confidence in you to “support” your shared (I would hope!) of a larger bathroom. LOL!

  4. I’m really enjoying Flashback Sunday’s. This reminds me of my home in Indonesia. If you touched the wall at a certain spot, the 240 volts would knock you across the room. It was an alternative jump start to the day when you ran out of coffee.

  5. Hello Ned.

    As it happens, I have worked at The Home Depot for 14 years. I could probably write till my laptop dies on the subject. I laughed my ass off. I love your attitude about the things you did wrong, because I KNOW that this attitude could only have come after the fact. There is nothing funny about it while it’s happening. Good stuff man. I look forward to more.

    1. Tom, where were you when I was knee-deep in my upstairs closet?! Yeah, hindsight is definitely 20/20. Other times, you just need to admit when you need glasses. Thanks for the kind words, and for stopping in. And for the record, I’m really enjoying your stuff as well. Maybe we need to start a support group…

      1. Would that be a support group for wannabe DIYers or a support group for articulating the most obscure perspectives of daily living. In any event i am glad you are enjoying my articles. I tried to send you a message on facebook bit they wanted to squeeze a dollar out of me for the privilege. could you send me a friend request or just your email address? thanks man

        1. Haha! I think the OPDL group sounds like it has potential.
          And about Facebook, that’s weird! My wife mentioned something about that the other day when looking up a cousin. I’ll friend you for sure. Oh, and my email address is always at the bottom of my posts: Enjoy the day!

No one is watching, I swear...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s