All power corrupts, but we need the electricity

Our story so far: My husband Tyler and I purchased a 126-year-old Methodist church to turn into our home, we demolished the interior over the course of two months, and now we were in the midst of the mechanicals phase of reconstruction.

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Chapter 22

Benjamin Franklin may have proved lightning was electrical by flying a kite in a thunderstorm in 1752, but it wasn’t until 1879 that Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb.

Twelve years later, our Methodist church was built. It surely was not lit with electricity until at least the 1930s when President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the national electrical grid to bring electricity to rural areas.

Perhaps the church was lighted with gas at some point, we couldn’t tell. We found evidence of early 20th century knob-and-tube wiring and cloth-covered wiring behind some of the walls in the church, but none of it was operational, and the remaining wiring was a mix of flexible armored tube copper wire, Romex and a little conduit.

What wiring was operational was flaky. Tyler learned this when he connected uncounted power tools to various outlets. The dependable outlets soon were favored and extension cords employed when electricity was needed in far-flung church locales.

To be safe, Tyler decided to rewire 100 percent of the church, no matter how old or new(ish) were the wires. Our electrician was the first contractor we chose; he’d worked on the church in the past so he already knew what was wrong in a contemporary way and what was antique in a knob-and-tube way. By the time the HVAC guys finally finished and Glimfeather the plumber was nearly done, our walls were framed. So our electrician could go to work.

Of course, in order to get to work, the electrician needed direction. Where to put outlets? Where to switch the lights? What kind of lights? How many?

Welcome to a world of arcane terminology like amps and volts, poles and pucks, cables and circuits, cans and dimmers, GFI and GFCI.

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Tomorrow: Our first real fight about the church. Read about it here.

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