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Trying to change a lightbulb in the stairwell


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13 replies to this topic

#1 Orange Blossom

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Posted 19 November 2009 - 04:00 PM

One would think this would be an easy job. I've changed hundreds of light bulbs, but I haven't succeeded in even removing the bulb cover - and I believe I have found out why.

After managing to contort myself into a position where I could read the information on the fixture and doing some internet research, I have found that this fixture is supposed to be part of an alarm system rigged into the phone system.

Interactive Technologies NO. 13-046

According to installation instructions, this fixture should not have been put into a circuit controlled by a switch. After all, that would defeat the purpose of the alarm. If the switch is off, the alarm wouldn't light or sound.

Whoever installed this, clipped the wires to the original fixture, which is who knows where, and used electrical caps to connect the original fixture wires to the wires of this siren bulb fixture. That wasn't very brilliant on the part of the installers.

We thought that light was a regular light fixture, until today when I managed to read that stuff. The bulb burnt out some months ago, and the stairwell is very dark as a consequence. My questions are: how do I get to the light bulb to change it and what kind of light bulb is required? Thus far, I have been unable to find out how to get to the bulb. Everything I see has to do with setting up the complex wiring and coding the alarm pad.

Eventually, we'll have to get someone to correctly install a proper fixture in that location, but in the interim, we need light in the stairwell. Kind of hard to hold a flashlight and carry a load down or up the stairs.

Orange Blossom :thumbsup:
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#2 garmanma

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 10:17 AM

Did you get the info, Interactive Technologies NO. 13-046, off of the base unit?

this fixture should not have been put into a circuit controlled by a switch

Worse yet, if this is a stairwell, isn't that a 3-way switch with a switch at either end of the stairs?

This is pretty much a generic fixture for a security system
Different security companies buy them for their systems

Is it a standard sized fixture?
The one I used at work was not a standard bulb and you accessed it through the back of the fixture

Edited by garmanma, 20 November 2009 - 10:25 AM.

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#3 techextreme

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 11:35 AM

I'm sure you probably found this also, but I'll put it out there for you anyhow.

Interactive Technologies

Don't know if they could point you to the lighting manufacturer or not but it's worth a shot.
Techextreme

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#4 Orange Blossom

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 12:08 PM

@ garmanma,

Yep, two switches in the circuit. The switches also controls a number of lights in the basement, some of which no longer work for some reason. The wiring here is an utter disaster.

Last night I found two screws that connect the bottom and top of the fixture, or back and front depending on your perspective. Unfortunately, I managed to drop the screws when I loosened them. They are now somewhere on or under the staircase. In any case, doing so revealed a bunch of computer chips and I don't know what else - some of it no doubt involved with the siren aspect of the fixture - and still no means to get to the bulb. This exploration, however, did reveal that it is not a standard sized bulb - the bulb space is too small.

@ techextreme,

Yep, I found Interactive Technologies' website right off the bat.

The previous owner had had a security system installed that was rigged into the phone system. The code pad is still in place. We never activated it. It appears that these folks http://www.sciservices.coop/residentialsecurity.aspx installed it going by the decal on the door, and if that is the case, parts of the system were and are missing such as the surge protector for the phone, the key fobs, and the yard sign. Previous owner never mentioned them and they weren't there when we moved in.

Gee, the things I discover in trying to change a light bulb.

~ OB
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#5 garmanma

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 01:53 PM

My suggestion to you would be to replace it with a standard light fixture
Remember one thing. If you call in a electrician to repair it and he sees it is knob and tube wiring [I bet it is] he is required by law to rewire it down to the panel
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#6 Orange Blossom

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 08:36 PM

I'd already figured I'd have to call in an electrician; I even know who. I just can't swing the expense at this time so was hoping to get a light bulb in the present fixture so I can see when using the stairs. A full rewire of the circuit would be necessary in any case since half the lights in the circuit aren't functioning. We'll have to rewire just about the entire house a bit at a time. Maybe go circuit by circuit.

From what I've observed, it appears a previous owner had the older knob and tube wiring replaced but did a poor job of it. One breaker even has two wires going into it. The majority of the 3 prong outlets are not properly grounded either. Grrr!

On the bright side, I did successfully rewire a lamp with a bad cord and bad switch. :flowers:

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#7 Guest_The weatherman_*

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 08:39 PM

Good on you OB. :thumbsup:

#8 twl845

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Posted 22 November 2009 - 05:43 PM

I'd already figured I'd have to call in an electrician; I even know who. I just can't swing the expense at this time so was hoping to get a light bulb in the present fixture so I can see when using the stairs. A full rewire of the circuit would be necessary in any case since half the lights in the circuit aren't functioning. We'll have to rewire just about the entire house a bit at a time. Maybe go circuit by circuit.

From what I've observed, it appears a previous owner had the older knob and tube wiring replaced but did a poor job of it. One breaker even has two wires going into it. The majority of the 3 prong outlets are not properly grounded either. Grrr!

On the bright side, I did successfully rewire a lamp with a bad cord and bad switch. :trumpet:

Orange Blossom :flowers:

Turn the light switch off so as not to activate the siren if it's still working. Remove the light fixture any way you can until it is hanging from the hot wire and ground wire. Cut the wires leaving as much slack as possible, and let the fixture crash to the floor. Get the new light fixture you have previously bought, and take note of the mounting screws that came with it. A standard light box has two screw holes at opposite ends. See if the two mounting screws line up with the two screw holes in the box. If they do you're almost done. Attach the black wires together with a wire screw, and do the same with the white wire. Raise the fixture and start the screws in the holes and screw down tight, being careful not to squash the wires. Turn on the light switch and if the light goes on, screw on the fixture cover, and you're done. If the fixture screws didn't line up with the holes, go to the hardware store and buy a bracket to screw in the holes, and then screw the fixture into the bracket. :thumbsup:

#9 garmanma

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Posted 22 November 2009 - 07:08 PM

You can get this custom chandelier for a couple of bucks




Posted Image


You can even get festive for the holidays like I do with Christmas lights



Posted Image
Mark
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#10 KeithM

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 11:04 AM

OB
Unfortunately the system to which these problem lighting circuits are attached, was designed to allow the previous users to remotely arm the alarm. Additionally it was possible to program the system to switch on and off the lights randomly via a timer to make the house appear occupied. If bits and pieces have been modified then it is a very difficult scenario for you. Have you tried using the system as it is quite an effective security system. If it still works then it may be worth the effort of sorting the light bulb.

#11 Orange Blossom

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 03:55 PM

Hello,

No, we have never bothered with the security system. Don't even want it. When someone has mobility, memory issues, or both; security systems like these are a disaster. Not enough time to push the buttons much less find the code and enter it. And that's assuming you're going in the house essentially empty-handed in the door near the number pad and DON'T have to use the WC immediately and AREN'T having a blood sugar crisis clouding your thinking and making it necessary to get calories or insulin immediately. If you're carrying a load or going in a different door, it's worse. Blasted thing would go off every time you'd enter the house. 'twould be like the boy who cried wolf.

I prefer a pair of watch geese. They wouldn't send out false alarms.

~ OB
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#12 Styck

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Posted 01 August 2010 - 06:18 AM

You can get this custom chandelier for a couple of bucks




Posted Image


You can even get festive for the holidays like I do with Christmas lights



Posted Image


"Note to self.....run to closet and see how many chandilers I have :thumbsup:

#13 NEMiller

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 05:12 PM

If this was designed to work via a remote, the activation unit can be removed from the wiring and the light can be wired direct to the house wiring. If you want to know how to get to the light, get an extension ladder, place it at the bottom of the stairs, then place a walk board from the top step, or one that lines up with the extension ladder, to the ladder. You can then walk out to under the light and work on it that way. You don't want to be trying to reach over the stairwell to reach a light and be unsteady when working on electrical devices. Knob and Tube wiring is not any different than today's romex in function. However, some of the rubber insulation on the old knob and tube circuits can become brittle and break off. That is one of the problems.

#14 Martel

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 01:01 PM

Posted ImageI use a Little Giant ladder for stairwells.


Posted ImageYou could attach a pulley system to this setup and solve the entire problem.
Installing fluorescent bulbs can result in extended life.




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