I grew up on a farm. My Father and Grandfather began teaching me how to fix and build things from a very early age. In my old house, we even put a full basement under an addition, so I could have a work room to hold all my tools. I thought I was being smart by sending over two small tool boxes. Everything was in the tool boxes that would be needed to do simple home repairs around the apartment. I changed my mind over and over again about bringing my cordless tools, though. In hindsight, I should have sent them.
One thing my wife and I did not know is that apartment dwellers own their own light fixtures in Switzerland. In every bedroom, there are holes in the center of the ceiling where the old light fixtures had been.
So today my job was to buy some inexpensive light fixtures and hang them. I had remembered to bring some electrical tools. Wire cutters, tape, twist on wire connectors, a voltage detector, and multi meter. I figured you never know what you are going to run into. What I didn’t count on were concrete ceilings!!
Today, I went to my favorite hardware store. (Well it is my favorite, because it is the only one I have found. 🙂 ) I found some inexpensive light fixtures. Which was actually a bigger task than I thought it would be. I managed to tie them into the basket on the bike, and made it back home. This is where the struggle started.
The first thing I learned is the Swiss use a different color combination on their wires than we do back in the states. So I did a little internet research to find what was standard.
The funny thing is that even in this apartment there is no standard. Two of the bedrooms had Grey, Blue, and Yellow/Green. Two of the rooms had Grey, Red, and Yellow. The internet as usual was helpful, so I was able to determine for sure which was the ground, and neutral, and my voltage detector let me know for sure which one was hot!
I was able to use Google Translate on the instructions; so I was ready to start hanging fixtures. That is until I got the step ladder up to check the ceiling. SOLID CONCRETE!
So here is my helpful hint. If you own tools, and you are moving, BRING THE TOOLS. I didn’t bring them, because I was afraid the different electrical systems would cause me problems, but the reality of it is that I would probably only need to charge the devices a few times, in my three years here. It isn’t like I am going to remodel the apartment, or doing major repair work. That is what a landlord is for, right? So tomorrow, I have to take another trip to the hardware store, buy a hammer drill, and some masonry bits, so I can hang the light fixtures the right way. In the end, to make my wife happy, I utilized another skill learned on the farm. When you don’t have the right tools, you have to improvise. It is not a permanent fix, but I did get the light fixture in the bedroom up, so Julie is happy. Who knew that 3M command strips could also temporarily hang a light fixture?