Friday, January 7, 2011

Corollary to DaddyBear's Law

There is a direct inverse relationship between the temperature and amount of ambient outdoor light and the chance of an electrical problem in my home.
Ah, the joys of living in a 65 year old house.  You never know what's going to break, and there are so many things that can go wrong that troubleshooting can be an endless chain of trial and error.

Last night, about an hour after dark and as the temperature was headed south of freezing, most of the lights in the house flickered, died, and then came back on very dimly.  Checking and flipping circuit breakers did nothing to alleviate the situation.  Based on a hunch, I switched out each of the breakers in the box (yes, I have a lot of spares), but nothing seemed to work.  After a  while, we noticed that the house was getting chilly.  The gas fire in the furnace was coming up due to the thermocouple, but the blower motor wasn't getting enough juice to run.

After a few hours of fruitless effort, I figured out that if I pulled several of the circuit breakers, the circuits that ran the lights in the main part of the house and the refrigerators would come up at 100%.  After that we decided to wait until morning and call an electrician.   We built a fire, made sure the kids were in their warmest pajamas, and broke out the extra blankets.  Over the night it got quite chilly but the fire kept the the house livable.   Irish Woman and I took turns staying awake as a fire watch.

This morning, a quick call to my brother-in-law to get the name of a good electrician pointed me to calling the power company.  LG&E came out and diagnosed the issue with one look at the connection to the house.  The coupling where the line from the pole attached to the house were corroded, loose, and burned black.   A quick trip up the ladder and the lineman had replaced them.  After putting the breakers back in and and flipping them back on, everything came up, including the furnace.

So we got lucky.  Hopefully our electrical service will be more reliable.  Heaven knows how long those connectors had been up there.  It's just dumb luck that the problem was fixed before they burned through and a live wire was dancing across my roof.

But all's well that ends well.  On a plus side, just in case LG&E or an electrician couldn't fix it today, I spent half the morning splitting firewood, so we have enough for several days all stacked up and ready to go.

The rest of my day is going to be spent in front of a warm fire, watching Netflix movies, drinking cold beer, and watching the cats and dogs snore.


Joshkie said...

I've always been a believer in O'Toole's Law and I used to have it on a poster hanging on my bedroom wall when I was in High School.

O'Toole's Law - "Murphy was an optimist.”

I added this to it in marker:

If Murphy's law is, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong".

Then O'Toole's means to me that "Somethings already gone wrong and I won't find out about it until it's to late to fix it."


Joshkie said...

Good to hear that you found out about this before it became an issue and that the family is safe.


DaddyBear said...

Thanks. The wiring in this place scares hell out of me sometimes. We've got just about every kind of wire that's been put into houses since WWII. One of my goals is to pull all of it out and have it redone and re-circuited.

ZerCool said...

Your house is right on that cusp, unfortunately. Our house is ~140 years old and most of the wiring has been re-run over the decades - since it obviously didn't have wiring when it started! I think I can actually go back in the title history and point to when the electric company installed poles out there...

I was thinking it sounded like you'd dropped one leg of the connection, but I guess I was mistaken. Either way, yes, you got lucky!

Stay warm and drink one for me. :-)

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