Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Overloaded Circuits



Recently, whenever I used my blow-dryer, it gave off the distinct smell of dead fish.

I am a total cheapskate and my hairdryer predates my husband. It still worked, so I complained about the stench and used it anyway. I only wash my hair twice once a week, so I figured it was fine. As long as the dead fish smell did not transfer to my hair.

Then Rob turned on the lights and we lost power in our master bedroom and bathroom. We assumed a breaker had tripped, which was odd since generally our bedroom only uses fans, iPod chargers, lamps, and my dead-fish hairdryer. After a few trips to the breaker box, we realized that there was a more complicated problem.

Electricity is not one of those things that you DIY--unless, apparently, you are the previous owner of our house. The inspection report had mentioned something about non-professional work done on the wiring, something that was supposed to be fixed before closing. Due to a snafu with our realtor, nothing on the list of supposed-to-be-fixed was actually fixed. Lessons learned about buying real estate.

"God works in mysterious ways." This became the refrain from our electrician, working his way room to room, fixing the death trap that was, unbeknownst to us, our house.

It took him a few hours to discover the problem(s). That dead fish smell? Not my hairdryer. It was the smell of the socket burning on the inside of the wall. Oh, the irony of being a low-maintenance girl who almost burned down our house with my once-weekly blow-dry.

Amidst the sparks he talked about God's mysteries--meeting his wife while they served tours in Iraq, being a white man married to a black woman--while my boys skipped among the live wires, me dragging them back by their shirt collars when they got too close. I nodded and listened to his stories, watching as he capped off wires with purple electrical tape. He explained the intricacies of wiring, directly following a story about the time he spent in Trinidad.

"God works in mysterious ways," he said again, as a spark almost--what? Shocked him? Burned him? I don't know enough about electricity to know more than to say it seemed to be a close call.

Another close call: all of the GFI outlets in our bathrooms that should trip in the case of, say, dropping a hair dryer in the bathtub, were only outfitted with the switch. They did not actually work. So had we any sort of issue in either bathroom, we would have been electrocuted.


The kicker? After months of house issues and medical bills, the electrician did not charge us for his hours of (life-saving) fixes.

God does work in mysterious ways.
 __________

This is another week of Yeah Write hookups--we're going to need to get a room. But it's a big room, so why not join in? Read, write, follow, post, tweet, tumblr-er, or harlem shake it.


25 comments:

  1. Oh how scary! And what a great electrician! God DOES work in mysterious ways. :) Glad you got your wiring fixed!

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    1. Me too! You never know what is really hiding behind the walls of your house...

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  2. oh, what a lovely piece! I believe that God and the universe send people to us, yes? And that there are more mysterious things happening underneath the surface or in between those walls with faulty writing than we'll ever realize.

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    1. Right? It was fun to sit and listen to him talk while he fixed things--and BOY, were we glad he fixed things!

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  3. Glad you got everything fixed without any disasters happening. I would tend to ignore a smelly hairdryer too.

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    1. I just sort of assumed that a bunch of my hair, which falls out all the time, had gotten caught up in there or something. Next time I smell dead fish, I'll be calling someone.

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  4. Electrical work scares the crap out of me. I'm always telling my electrician to be careful and he laughs at me, but it seems like a good thing to say to someone working with live wires. We have a house like that, every time someone opens something, we all wonder how we aren't dead yet.

    Glad you got it fixed before something bad happened!

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    1. Yes--I guess they know what they are doing, but he totally almost got sparked. Or shocked. Or whatever. Scary stuff!

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  5. This is very scary! I am so glad you caught this before your life became some horror story I'd see on the news! The only smell coming from my hairdryer is "dead hair" smell. It's probably time for me to get a new one. I envy you that you can wash your hair so infrequently. I'm oily so it's every day for me!

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    1. I totally thought it was dead hair smell! Yeah, my hair is SUPER dry, and I just realized in the last year that it does better when I don't wash it so much. It's also almost black, so even if it got greasy, it wouldn't, like, change colors or anything. I had a blonde boyfriend who washed his hair once a week. It turned brown by the end. Totally disgusting. I think I'll write about that next week.

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  6. oh my god!! the dangers we live with and don't even know!!! thank god for those mysterious ways.

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    1. I know! Terrifying. So glad no one ever dropped a hair dryer in the bathtub. Or whatever.

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  7. Geez. That's super scary. I am glad you got it cleared up. I wish I didn't have to dry my hair everyday, but if you saw it when it air dried, you would feel terror.

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  8. Your electrical situation sounds like a blessing in disguise. I also wash my thick, red hair 2 times a week. Did you get a new hair dryer, too?

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  9. Wow...what a close call. You were so very lucky in many ways.

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  10. That is the kind of electrician we all need.

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  11. We erred on the side of safety with breakers and trips (are they called that?) when it came to fixing the home-grown electrical in our house. Every time the lights go out when I run the microwave and toaster oven at the same time, I know something is working well. Sounds like you found someone to do the same for you!

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  12. I live in fear of what's behind our walls. My dad is an electrician, and the next time he visits I need him to take a look around.
    That's amazing that he didn't charge you!

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  13. We thought we were safe in our house -- we bought it from an electrician. And then one day my hubby was in the basement with the lights off and he saw sparks traveling the distance from our furnace to the electrical panel. Now it is wired correctly...

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  14. I have the chills reading this! Mysterious ways indeed. What a riveting story, well told.

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  15. He is certainly a great electrician to have in your Rolodex. Do people still have Rolodexes? And we live in an old house and had the burning rubber smell from out kitchen box with the fuses. So glad that it was discovered before a fire. Thank God is right.

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  16. Here's safety tip: If you ever smell the acrid odor that's almost always accompanies smoldering electrical equipment and you can't immediately identify the source, then open the main circuit breaker for your house and call the fire department. It saved my home.

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  17. The house I live in now had nightmare wiring when I moved into it. The truly dangerous was fixed immediately and the just plain ugly was fixed later. Your electrician sounds like a wonderful person and I'm happy to hear you'll be able to sleep safely in your house now.

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  18. I too use up appliances until they are so old they could possibly burn down the house, so I'm not sure I'd have noticed either...

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  19. This is the thing about electricians, plumbers, etc. There are some real angels among them. God does work in mysterious ways. Thanks for sharing your story. Loved it.

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