Friday, December 18, 2009

Short circuit

I see a theme emerging here. It must be "80s movies week" at Bluebonnet's blog.

Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with a heartwarming tale of a robot who has come to life. More prosaically, this has to do with old homes, old electrical systems, and freezing pipes. Yep. A heartrending tale of homeowners' woe. I'm starting to become convinced that in order to own an older home, one must either be handy or married to someone handy. I'm in the latter category.

Those of you who're my Facebook friends may remember the trouble I had with my new Samsung washer a couple of weeks ago. (FYI, Samsung may manufacture well-priced, good quality appliances, but their warranty service stinks. Two plus weeks and no one has contacted me about service. If Will hadn't fixed the matter, I would be highly, highly pissed.) Will solved the mystery of the excessively chirping, non-working washer. The electrical outlet was the culprit. We ran a long extension cord to another outlet as a temporary fix. Problem solved.

Not so fast. I ran a load of laundry today. More chirping, and this time, an error code. I was starting to picture myself scrubbing clothes in the bathtub, hair piled under a babushka, singing laundry shanties. So...this is the deal. The broken electrical outlet wasn't the problem. It was a symptom of the problem. The electrical outlet was tied into a circuit that also fed the garden storage area underneath the mudroom. This was a very important circuit because it powered the heating elements that warmed the pipes in the storage/mudroom areas. The breaker for this circuit had failed. So the circuit failed. No electricity in that area. The temperatures had stayed below freezing (see blog below). With no warming elements, the pipes had begun to freeze. So little water was getting to the washer.

We're lucky the pipes didn't burst. Another temporary fix: space heater in the garden shed area to warm the pipes. Permanent fix: change out broken breaker. (See note about needing to be handy?)

Another glamorous episode in the day of a vintage house. We're very thankful we spent the money to upgrade the electricity in the house. Although they didn't (obviously) replace all of the breakers, they did a great job organizing and labeling. Makes it much easier to fix. Does it sound like I know what I'm talking about? Not a bit. It's all "blah...blah...blah...breaker...circuit...Home Depot run" to me.

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