You Can’t See It…IT’s ELECTRIC!
So the other day I go to take my car out of the garage. I punch in the code for the door and nothing. WTF, did I forget the code? Mrs. C informs me,
“Oh, the light in our bathroom is also out, must be a circuit breaker went off.”
I check the circuit box and everything is on.
“Oh, the bathroom light is connected to the circuit with the GFCI outlet in the guest bathroom.”
I push that little button on the GFCI switch in the guest bathroom and get a spark and a flash.
“Hmmm, that can’t be good.”
I don’t know who wired this townhouse, but one GFCI outlet knocks out every outlet in all the bathrooms, plus the outlet in the garage.
“It must be a bad GFCI outlet, I can change that.”
“No you don’t, you’ll kill yourself.”
“Nonsense, I just kill the circuit breaker that feeds the outlet, and install a new outlet. There can only be a few wires. What could go wrong?”
“You will get electrocuted, and I don’t want to have to clean up that mess.”
“Bologna! Let me check the circuit box.”
We have 22 circuit breakers in this tiny townhouse. They are all labeled. Ten are labeled “lighting.” What the hell kind of label is that?
Now I don’t know how to switch off the circuit with the bad GFCI outlet, because the bad GFCI outlet is already killing the current, so I don’t know how to check which outlet is on what circuit breaker.
“I’ll just turn off all the circuits, and install the new outlet with you holding a flashlight.”
“No you won’t, I’m calling Frank from “Rent-a-son.”
I wanted to object vehemently because I have changed outlets in the dark before, but Mrs. C insisted and I kinda was afraid I’d kill myself. I have the utmost respect for electricity.
Frank sent over Rick, his electricity guy. Rick figured out the correct circuit breaker with a doodad that has two pointy things and a small light. He changed out the bad outlet and VOILA! NOTHING.
DAMN, this meant there was another problem along the line. Rick was stumped. He checked several outlets and they all seemed connected correctly. Then he checked the downstairs bathroom which had a night light plugged into the outlet. Mrs. C had plugged that in to see if the outlet was on the bad circuit.
Rick unplugged the night light, plugged it in again, and everything came on.
“What the hell Rick, why did that work?”
“I couldn’t tell you…it’s electric. Just don’t touch anything.”
“Maybe the new outlet just had to warm up.”
“Yeah, sure, let’s go with that.”
That was last week. The power is still on, my garage door opens, I did not fry. All is right in Crankyland.