The bulb-sucking project

Posted on 25th September, by JimYoung in Blog. No Comments

This short story was written by my daughter and edited by me.  It was a school assignment. I publish it here for your amusement  – perhaps a warning to any would-be do-it-yourself project advocates.

Fizzle, fizzle pop!  This last Saturday night the light bulb blew when I turned the switch on.  A true story and seeming not a big repair job, but this particular light bulb was in the hallway interior roof, some five metres up.  Dad undertook to replace this now dead screw-in type bulb with my assistance.




“We could borrow the neighbour’s ladder, but that would risk wall damage” dad explained.  Recorded here are the five “Murphy Law” type sequential events we experienced in this light-bulb changing project.  I had confidence in dad – a project manager by profession, he has successfully tackled many much more complicated jobs.

First, we had to remove the dead bulb.  To do this dad rather ingeniously converted our four metre long window-washing pole into a light-bulb-removing tool by taking off the cleaning sponge and wiring on a sucker (a transparent PVC wall suction cap or sucker, which I was despatched to borrow from our bathroom toothbrush holder) to the end of the pole.  With considerable drama and some naughty words, dad eventually poked the pole up to the roof and attempted to stick the sucker onto the surface of the dead light bulb.  The sucker didn’t stick, so he lowered the pole and licked the sucker – yuck!  This time it stuck.  However, when he twisted the pole to unscrew the light bulb, the glass part of the light bulb disconnected from its socket.  The socket remained in the light fitting.  There was some more colourful language.  Mum asked, “Shall I call an electrician?”  Dad ignored this advice.

Second, dad replaced the sucker with insulation tape wrapped around the end of the pole and after several attempts managed to poke this inside the dead light bulb socket and unscrew it, amongst a shower of glass particles, thus clearing the way for the new bulb.  During this process risk-averse dad wore a partially transparent plastic bag over his head to protect his eyes from falling glass.  Mum found this all very, very amusing.  Dad’s neck was sore from looking up.  We had a break and discussed progress.  Mum still seemed keen on the electrician option, but we again reassured her that all was fine.

Third, dad placed the sucker on the pole end, turned on the light switch, stuck the new bulb onto the pole sucker and surprisingly quickly without further mishap reached up with the pole and screwed in the new bulb until it lit up.   We both felt enormously relieved and elated, although somewhat dizzy from all this roof gazing.  But then dad found he couldn’t lower the sucker pole.  The sucker was stuck firmly to the replacement bulb.  We deliberated and eventually dad steadily pulled on the pole in an attempt to release the sucker.   #%@! – the bulb bit came adrift – again.  We repeated the entire second activity to clear out the socket.  Mum again suggested we call an electrician, but dad said something like “Don’t be silly, that will cost us a small fortune, just to change a bulb.  Forget it, Emma and I can do it – it’s our challenge.  Show some faith and patience please.”  Mum reminded dad of a previous disaster – the replacement shower tap drama that culminated in an expensive visit by the plumber.

Four, after much discussion and further experimentation, dad attached a length of tough cotton thread (from mum’s sewing kit) through a small tap at the edge of the sucker (see picture).  The idea was to pull on the cotton thread once the light bulb was in place and thus release the sucker from the bulb.  This all seemed very optimistic to me, but given dad’s deteriorating patience, I decided to keep this thought to myself.  Anyway, another new bulb was attached to the sucker and then screwed into place until the light went on.  Foolishly and regretfully, dad gave the pole an extra turn for good luck.  Poop – the bulb again broke away from its socket.

Five, dad yelled at me and we repeated the whole process with another bulb that I noticed had a slightly grey appearance.  This time dad took care not to over tighten the bulb, pulled the sucker release cord and surprise, surprise – bulb successfully installed, albeit about three hours later.

We were keen to demonstrate our success to doubting mum.  With appropriate fanfare I threw the switch.  Incredibly the damn light didn’t work.  At mum’s firm direction we then vacuumed up the shards of glass and she called the electrician who seemed amused at our antics.  On Monday he arrived with an extension ladder that was padded at the ends to prevent wall damage and changed the gray-shaded light bulb that was a dud, apparently not thrown out after some previous light-bulb changing project.


Undeterred, dad is already planning two more do-it-yourself projects – a concrete path and a replacement boundary fence.

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