4.08.2010

One Giant Electric Puzzle

The Hive failed inspection for a few electrical problems; ungrounded outlets in the kitchen, hidden junction boxes, wires outside of junction boxes. It obviously wasn't a deal breaker and we were confident that we could fix everything that was "wrong."

A few weeks later when the Hive was ours and our first shipment of stuff arrived, I plugged our new toaster into a kitchen outlet, turned it on, and all the lights in the surrounding areas dimmed. And that's how we discovered that 90% of our house is wired to one 15amp circuit. My dad was standing in the kitchen with me when the lights dimmed, and since he's a self-taught pro with the electricity (and how could he not be when all his homes have been 100-200 years old), we named him king (or queen bee) of "fixing" the electricity issues. Unfortunately, his first visit was consumed with wiring an outlet for our electric dryer, changing all our two pronged outlets to properly grounded three prongs, and oh, lots and lots of snow, so splitting up our 90% issue had to wait until another trip.

Fast forward to cherry blossoms and we have ourselves another visit from our electricity king.
It's not that we can't fix the electricity issues ourselves, it's just that we're spread so thin that without my dad's help we'd likely be carefully selecting which outlet to use when vacuuming, running extension cords for the kitchen aid, and turning off the kitchen lights when toasting bread, for a very long time to come.

So on these past few hottest days of the year so far, my dad has been keeping cool in the basement, isolating wires and working this giant electric puzzle.
I've been hanging out in my office, hollering down every now and then when I notice a light go out in one of the other rooms, and popping down for an update whenever I need another glass of water. He's run up and down the stairs dozens of times testing every outlet with each circuit tripped. We're now proud owners of that shiny new circuit tester he's holding, which is getting quite a workout.

Our king of electricity is marking every wire with "lettered" white electrical tape  as it comes out of the box and moves through the basement and upstairs. (Tip: white electrical tape sticks better and longer than masking tape on everything you want to mark, including plastic containers in the freezer)
The master key, written in the nearly illegible handwriting that only a lawyer or doctor can produce, is nearly three pages long and riddled with exclamation points at such discoveries of at least four circuits that only supply one outlet each(!).
We're getting close to a point where splitting the "murphy pin" circuit is possible, but this giant electric puzzle is turning out to be a lot more intense than our home inspector could have even predicted.

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