Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Deep Dark Despair of Home Repair

But it's plugged in!

Home Repair causes me no small amount of despair. This is made worse by the fact that I own very few tools so even if I venture forth to remedy some ill that has befallen my most humble abode it is very likely that I’ll get half way through with it and discover some specialized instrument is required and then it will sit on the porch, unfinished, staring at me, until the next bonfire. I am mechanically reclined. There is nothing that I can say I do well with tool other than create jobs for other people in home repair. There is no job so simple that I cannot turn it into a catastrophe.

Then there are the dangerous job involving such things as electricity. That’s one of the few things inside of a home that can kill you outright. I’ve made just a couple of mistakes with electrical current and it’s never been as simple as getting cut with a razor knife or accidently hitting my knee with a hammer. True, falling off a ladder or a roof might cause serious injury or death but electricity is invisible. You have no idea of a wire is hot or cold until you do something that would cause you to find out.


Of course, there are tools for this, too. There are devices that will allow you to know each and every wire’s most inner secret, if you own these tools, and if you know how to use these tools, and if you know where the wires are. I’m a blind doctor doing surgery on a patient who is many feet long and tucked under a house. Somewhere, and I am sure of this, there is a wire that has been chewed through by a rat under the house. I must find this wire, cut the power off to the house, and then repair the wire. That is my mission.

The last thing I want under the house with me is four dogs; two large and two medium dogs and in particular I do not want a medium sized striped dog with a high prey drive under the house at all. This means I have to put all of the dogs inside of the house and go spelunking all my own. My biggest fear with the dogs is that they will tear asunder any and all insulation looking for rats. And no, rats I usually do not have because I toss a rat snake or two under the house each Summer. This Summer a striped dog with a high prey drive has kept the snakes away from the house.

The Quest for the Rodent Rendered Wire was as anticlimactic as it would seem to be. First, there’s only a few places under the house where there are wires to be found. Second, none of them were chewed at all. But there was nowhere else to look. I took five separate trips down under to find wire and rats and all I found was damp, musty, uh, musty damp stuff. I also discovered that I am not nearly as limber as I once was and crawling around on my back in the dirt isn’t nearly as much fun as it once was and it never was. I did mess with the dogs’ minds by calling them from one room to another. That was all the fun there was to be had.

Dark, damp, and closed in spaces do not bother me at all. I had a decent flashlight and a decent backup flashlight, and I took a razor knife with me, just in case of rats. Yet there isn’t any fear that I have of the darkness that is inherent. There’s enough light under the house for me to tell where I am and even if it was awesomely dark I could still find the way to the trapdoor. What is there to fear in a space where there is no light? It is the same space. There is nothing missing but sight. There is nothing added but the mind’s attempt to translate what is to what was and the darkness itself causes to harm. I cut the flashlight off and navigate by the light of the vents that appear on the house’s foundation blocks. East, east, east, then South and I’m out. I could do this at midnight and still get out quickly. But my back and neck both hurt.

One of my worst habits is to keep trying to fix something the same way even though it hasn’t worked before. After trip five under the house I realized that it gave me the sense of having accomplished something through effort without having any real results. It’s like those people who stare at a page without being able to read it but they keep staring without ever making the effort to begin to study what’s there. Sooner or later, and likely sooner, I’m going to have to find someone who knows a little more about electricity that I do.

I call around and explain the problem and most tell me the same thing,  “We will come out to your house and look at your problem but before we do anything at all it is $$$!!! Per hour just for us to drive to your house then $$$!!!+$$$$!!!! to do any work.”

This has been going on now for a few months. I finally told a guy who said he would tell me what was wrong for one hundred dollars I would get back to him in a couple of weeks. That was a week ago.


Last night, I decided I wanted to do four things at one time while sitting on the sofa; watch a movie on the laptop, charge the laptop, charge the phone, and use the reading lamp. This would require three places to plugs thing in and near the sofa there is one outlet with two receptacles. I thought using the power strip where the tv once stood would be a good idea. I plugged the power strip in, plugged the lamp into it and WHAM, out goes the light. This was a surprise and so I unplugged the power strip and plugged the lamp back in. Nothing. I plug the lamp into a receptacle in the other room and light! I check the break box and sure enough, there’s a breaker that’s tripped. I flip it back on and then stop. There’s that breaker that’s been tripped. I flip it over and it stays.

What?


Back in the living room everything works. Everything. It was the power strip that was causing the problem all along!

I have no idea how this is possible but I’m happy.


Take Care,
Mike

3 comments:

  1. I have learned the same thing about power strips as I have many other products: You get what you pay for.
    When we upgraded TV and computer I researched and bought appropriate power strips/surge protectors. I had to, at least until we have to redo the house wiring - hopefully never.
    Cheap ones can look the same but are nothing more than a splitter and may be trouble if not good quality.
    I'm glad you figured it out cheaply, Mike. Protect your home from fire and frustration and get a nice one that fits your needs, even if it costs more.

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    1. I'm a believer now, Scoakat. That cheap piece of crap caused me to crawl under the house looking for something that wasn't there!!

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  2. Strange the power strip didn’t trip the breaker when you plugged it in, but did when you plugged the lamp into it. That means there isn’t a dead short in the power strip, but something weird is going on in there, with the same result of course. I wonder if it would trip the breaker if you plugged into a different spot on the strip? Are the outlet, power strip, or lamp, three prong?

    Nevermind, I suffer the curse of knowing about electricity, and the cat’s curiosity, without the benefit of nine lives. They’re cheap, throw it away… well you could cut the cord off it for some future need. I have dozens off them I’ve cut off stuff in the last fifty years.

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