Power Hungry

By: Julie Day

breaker panel
Make sure you know where your main breaker is located!

Greetings from the Stone Ages! Well, not really, but things around my house have certainly taken a step backwards this last couple of weeks! Thanks to a frayed power line outside, my house experienced something my electrician called a “missing neutral.”

The best I can understand it, a missing neutral is fancy electrical talk that means something breaks and everything goes haywire. He went on to say that it’s not altogether uncommon, in fact, that’s how he got his nickname, Sparky.

During this anything-but-neutral event, instead of the power being nicely balanced in the house, 220 volts surged first through one leg of the wiring then the other. So we had some light bulbs dim as candles, with other light bulbs bright as an operating room. Oh, and we had smoke and sizzles, too, along with a nicely chargrilled stove, microwave, dishwasher, dryer, TV, and Internet!

microwave control board
Fried control panel from microwave – see the green bubbles?

I suppose everybody needs to visit their local coin laundry at least once. And if you haven’t dried off with a towel stiff from line-drying, you haven’t really exfoliated.

So, here I sit, trying to make the best of it, eyeing the latest mountain of dirty dishes in the kitchen and wondering if I can pyramid them high enough to squeak by until the repairman comes. At least I’m getting to eat out a lot! And thankfully, the appliances can all be repaired on the power company’s dime.

Living in a fixer-upper means you’re never free of a challenge, but this little cottage has offered up head-scratchers, disasters, and mishaps worthy of a master’s degree from Stooge University. And after four years, I think I’m ready for my diploma!

I’ve covered plumbing, framing, roofing, grading, masonry, cabinetry, insulation, sheetrocking, finishing, and now wiring. I can’t come up with any system or structure I haven’t yet tinkered with, but I’m afraid to think too hard lest it – whatever it is – collapse out of spite.

I’m just going to keep quiet and try not to bump into anything, and hopefully we can skate through an uneventful future!

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