Friday, January 28, 2011

Basking In The Glow

The first or second day of the Atlanta Snowpocalypse, the overhead lights in our den would not come on. We thought we had tripped a breaker somehow, but when we tried to flip the switch back to "on," it would just buzz angrily and turn itself off again. No matter what we tried, no matter what we did or did not plug in, we couldn't get it to come on.

This house is older (1960s) and is wired very strangely. Items on this same circuit were: overhead den lights (but not den outlets), overhead hall lights (but not hall outlets), overhead foyer light *and* foyer outlets, outlets in Luke's room on the same wall as the foyer (but not other outlets in Luke's room), and all outside outlets and lights (front porch, back porch, corner floods) *except* the carport light. So strange. There was nothing we could do during the Hothlanta week, so we decided to look at it over the weekend to see if it was something we could fix. Everyone kept saying we must have blown a fuse, but my friend Bill explained that if you have breakers, you *don't* have fuses. We decided that the breaker itself must be bad, since that one did appear original to the house (others had clearly been changed), so DH swapped it out. No joy. It still wouldn't come on. Bill recommended that we get one of those outlet checkers that can show you if the outlet is wired correctly and potentially what the problem was. It was just a few dollars; worth a shot. "Open Hot" was the answer. We had a short somewhere.

Okay, enough amateur attempts at repairs. We have exhausted our tiny bit of knowledge. Time to call the professionals. We are *not* going to try to find and fix a short ourselves, particularly with so many overhead and outside lights involved. I am also genuinely baffled as to how it could have happened, since it's not like we had plugged in anything new or been messing with any of the outlets. Plus, wouldn't we have noticed when it happened?

As it turns out, not necessarily. They started with our overhead hall light. Not quite sure why, other than it seemed the easiest to remove.

Looks precarious to me, but okay. They quickly seemed satisfied that it was not something in the ceiling causing the problem, so they moved on to the outlets. Nothing there either. Next up: wall switches. I have to say, I was a bit unnerved to walk into my foyer and see this:

Sure hope they know how to put that back together! LOL And our hall switch looked like this:

Notice anything? Look closely:

See the scorch marks? If I had known what to look for when I took that photo, I would have gotten a close up with the camera (instead of having to crop). Actually, there were scorch marks at both the foyer and hall switches, so they aren't exactly sure which one caused the short. The foyer switch had a metal box which might have caused a spark to jump. The hall switch, as you can see, had wires actually poking through the wire nut. One spark there, and out it goes. Either way, it was probably me who actually caused the short, since I would have been the last to turn off each set of lights.

Thank goodness someone figured it out! We have thermal curtains up in our den for winter, trying to keep some of the terrible cold from seeping in. Being thermal, they also act as blackout curtains, and it is *so* dark in our den, even with a couple of lamps. It was like living in a cave for nearly 3 weeks! When they got the den lights to come back on, both DH and I just stood there, basking in the glow. It was like the sun had returned after a long absence. Aaaaahhhhhh!

And an overhead light bulb promptly blew this evening, leaving an entire corner of the den dark once again. Do we have any replacements on hand? Nope. That will have to wait until we can pick some up tomorrow. ::sigh:: Such is life.

Currently feeling: brighter

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