Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Props to Pops

While most of you were sitting on your couch watching some dude pass out while trying to win the heart of last season's reject on The Bachelorette last night, you know what I was doing? I was changing a circuit breaker with a flashlight in my 100 degree garage. Ah the joys of home-ownership...

On Sunday night after giving Alli her nightly bath, I headed into her bedroom to get things ready to put her to bed while Mommy B dried her off and got her in her onesie. I flipped the light switch on the wall, and nothing. Great... now what? Luckily it was still light outside so I was able to see my way around, but I could tell that nothing was kicking on. No night-light, no lamp, no clock, no ceiling fan. Even though we had power in every other room of the house, I knew this posed a pretty big problem. Not only are we leaving town soon, but it was 95 degrees here yesterday.... today is supposed to flirt with the record high of 97. I don't care if people think Alli is coddled, but a 7-month-old needs a fan on when they're sleeping in this kind of weather. So I knew what that meant - Dad-E was looking for the nearest phone booth to change wardrobes into Super Dad.

I tried flipping the circuit breaker a couple times to see if it had been tripped, but got nothing. I tried leaving it off for the night in hopes that something had been tripped and needed to be reset. I checked things again Monday morning, still nothing. I even busted out my latest birthday present from Mommy B - a Voltage Tester. That's right Followers, last Christmas she got me a car jack and stands and this year a voltage tester for my birthday. Needless to say I'm not much of a video-gamer...

Anyway, I flipped the breaker back on and tried the voltage tester in every single outlet in Alli's room. Much to my surprise, every single one read "hot", meaning that I was getting juice to her room - but not enough to power a night light? This meant that there could have been any number of culprits - a bad switch, a wire touching another somewhere, a wire shorted out, a fried circuit breaker or heaven forbid, a wire that has been chewed through or frayed in the wall somewhere.

I came home from work and tried a couple more things to no avail. So before I went on a wild goose chase, I called the man - my dad. Followers might recall that this guy can fix anything. He ran me through a couple things to test to narrow down the cause, and we both decided it would be best (and easiest) to replace the circuit breaker all together and go from there. After a quick run to Lowe's, I was ready to rock and roll. Mommy B fired up Skype on our laptop and Pops did on his end as well. With the power completely off in the whole house, it was a race against time before Alli's room became too hot.

With Mommy B holding the laptop and flashlight, Pops walked me through removing the old circuit breaker and replacing it with a new one. We flipped the main power back on, then flipped on the new breaker. The new breaker was fine, but the moment the juice started flowing, Mommy B and I saw the culprit. There was a neutral wire that was not completely connected to the grounding tree - and it was sparking slightly. We could tell right away that it had been that way for a while, as the end of it was completely fried. We just knew that this was our gremlin...

Again with Pops' careful instructions, I killed the power, cut the fried wire off, stripped the plastic coating and found another spot to reattach it. We flipped the main power back on, and Mommy B went up to Alli's room to check things out. She came back down to the garage with a big thumbs up, which meant we were back in business. Thank god - because I'm no electrician and I didn't feel like punching holes in the drywall tracking down a frayed wire.

Our jubilation was short-lived, however. I had opened the garage door a couple feet to let some air in, but not enough that the entire mosquito population of South Carolina would want to join us. This provided just enough room for Scarlett to take herself on a walk. So just as I put everything back together and put away, off Mommy B and I went into the neighborhood to find our crazy dog in the darkness. Oh, and she hasn't worn a collar since Alli was born - so it was a real treat trying to find out where she went. I never thought I'd miss that jangly dog collar...

We were able to find her rather quickly, and she came right to me. We made it back to the house and got everything back to normal. Alli had her night light and fan going again (even though she had slept through this whole ordeal). Major crisis averted, thanks to modern technology and a dad that knows a few things. Also, I didn't electrocute myself and everything is in working order for when we leave town.

Overall, I took it as a real learning experience. I got to unearth some of my troubleshooting and critical thinking skills from my past job in Customer Support - but more importantly I learned even more about electricity than I already knew. If a situation like this ever happens again, I'll know exactly what to look for and know how to fix some of the (easier) possible culprits.

I think that's what you really strive for as a parent - to teach your kid how to analyze a situation and how to work their way through it to a resolution. That way, if they ever face a similar situation in the future, they'll know how to deal with it properly. So, props to Pops - job well done.


  1. Oh Scarlett. Rob still marvels about how fast she sprinted out of our house; he said he's never seen a living thing move that fast lol.

  2. The wonders of the modern world. It's one thing to call Dad and say "can you walk me through this?" It's a whole new ball game when you can add skype, position the camera so he can see what you're doing. Great work Dad-E and Big Meibs. What're your handles on Skype? StamfordSteve may be calling you in a few weeks with some questions...