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Thursday, November 20, 2014

You Can’t See It…IT’s ELECTRIC!

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.
It’s electric!


  1. I currently have an electric problem in our kitchen. The pendant lights above our kitchen counter all went out. Probably a bad transformer--$480. This system is supposedly very expensive but it's caused me nothing but trouble. And of course I'll be hiring an electrician because I don't know anything about electricity, other than to steer clear of it.

  2. I can sure relate to this post Joe, many stories have been shared about my vast electrical knowledge, I always changed the outlets with the power on which sometimes resulted in a flash of light and my wife yelling at me, I have been eyeballing a blank plate on the wall where I could sure use an outlet....

    Hope your power stays on and the problem stays away, was it possibly the night light?

  3. Weird and then some. Bury that night light deep. I think it's possessed.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  4. now that's scary! glad you didn't take this on yourself.

  5. Want me to come and check it out for you Joe?

  6. I'll knock my brother in law down to get the phone and call an electrician, before he can call his buddy who started all the electrical problems in the house.

  7. "What could go wrong?" is right up there with, "Hey! Watch this!"

  8. When we were building shelves for our bookstore, IN the space that would become the bookstore, it was very cold because the heat hadn't been connected. I was complaining about it and a relative who was helping us but who also was an electrician disappeared for awhile, then came back and turned on the heat. I said "How did you do that?" He just smirked and said "The FM principle." Upon repeated questions he finally told me what the FM principle was. F***ing Magic! I've used it ever since.

  9. Was it in "Westworld" that robot Yul Brynner asked, "What could possibly go wrong...go wrong...go wrong?"

  10. I personally tend to bow to the electric gremlins. You must have good insurance if Mrs. C's main concern was the mess your electrocution would cause:)) You two are so funny.

  11. Wow, really? Rick left it at that?

    get another real electric guy in there, you've likely got either a loose wire or a bad outlet and either one can be that one spark .... unless, of course, you need the insurance money. In that case, just keep jiggling that outlet (the one with the night light)

  12. It's FM (Freaking Magic) I' convinced :)

  13. At least your master bathroom ceiling light/vent fan combo didn't go on the fritz because a mouse was coming down out of the attic at night to get warm, and chewed through some magical light-and-power-giving stuff.

  14. I'm going to use Catalyst's "FM Principle" expression at the next possible chance!

  15. I'm with you; I have a healthy respect for electricity. Glad you guys aren't in the dark any more :)


  16. I'm kinda glad you didn't fry. Mrs Cranky is right in this instance. Electrical problems should be left to the experts to solve.

  17. Yay for not electrocuting yourself! Really happy you DIDN'T do that! :D - I zapped myself changing a light bulb once.. Yep, I did..

  18. Yikes. I guess I'm even more appreciative now of a son-in-law who is a competent electrician.
    But now Val's comment has me worried about the chipmunks who are currently living in the walls alongside the front door. Up til now I thought it was "cute" the way my cats lined up to listen to them keep house!

  19. Ah - the mystery of electricity. I laughed but I also feel your pain!

  20. I'm glad you didn't attempt to fix it yourself. You might have ended up a jerky jerk.

    And am I the only one that snickered at Stephen's first few words "I currently have an electrical problem..?"