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Must have a screw loose

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Ever attach something nice and tight, then find out later that it wasn’t as secure as you thought? Yeah, me too.

Write this down, because it’s important: Things loosen over time. Screws – anything with threads, really – have a magical ability to unscrew themselves when left alone without supervision. That’s why you have drywall screw-pops, wobbly casters, wiggly doorknobs, trim with gaps and a hundred other things that once were tight, but now not.

I talked last time about moving my shop lights, but didn’t mention the condition of the mountings. The new LED fixtures were the same size as the fluorescents originally hanging there for 12 years, so when I installed them I just hung them on the same hooks. As a result, installation took only minutes. I should have taken more time.

Because when I recently took the LED fixtures down, I also removed the hooks they were hanging on and made a shocking discovery: Almost every one of them was loose. Really, really loose. Eight fixtures with two screw hooks each makes 16 hooks, and they all twisted out easily by hand. A few pulled straight out of the ceiling on the first couple twists. I’m baffled at what was keeping them in place, let alone how they continued to support the lights hanging on them. That I hadn’t been bashed in the head by a falling light surely was a matter of simple luck.

Whenever I find something loose I do the same thing you do. I grab a screwdriver and tighten it, and then tighten every other screw in whatever it is because chances are good that if one’s loose, they all are.

The trick is you have to know it’s loose. That’s easy with a doorknob, but shop lights, not so much.



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