It All Comes Back To The Simpsons

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

"I Don't Need Safety Equipment, Because I'm Homer Si-zzzzzzz-aaugghh!"

It is due to no less than a miracle or dumbluck or random chance or something else besides these things that I'm here to post this...

My house is old. No, no; old! Like, built in the 1890's old. So I have the joy of never having a simple, standard repair around the house. Nothing is ever simple. Luckily, I have Sylvana to do most of it (she's into that kind of thing), but I specialize in a few things: hooking up electronic equipment, putting up and taking down the storm windows and screens, replacing light fixtures, and other stuff like that.

So that's what had me up on a chair in the living room this past weekend. On last Thursday, the overhead light in the living room went out. Our son said he heard a little sizzling noise when the light stopped working. Of course, he told us that the next day...but, luckily, our house was not reduced to cinders. That boy ain't right.

After changing the bulbs and checking the circuit breakers and still being in the dark, I decided it must be a problem with the fixture itself. So we went to the Ho' 'Pot and picked up a new fixture for the living room (and a kick ass ceiling fan, as you read in my previous post).

Once we got home, I took down the fixture and found, to no surprise, scary, scary wiring. There was no junction box, the grounding wire was completely unattached to anything. My god, all the wiring in my house is like this. Best not to think about it, I guess. No scorch marks, though, so that was inspiring.

It took over half an hour to get the fixture changed out, but most of that time was spent by Sylvana and I discovering that the electrical grid to our house was laid out by a free-spirited and "out-of-the-box" thinker. One breaker controls the lamps in the living room and the overhead dining room light. Another one controls the outlets (but not the lights) in the bathroom and the kitchen light. In the end, I just decided to turn off all the breakers that controlled electricity in the living room and in all rooms that the living room is attached to.

Once that was done, changing out the fixture was easy and uneventful. Before I put the cover back on the fixture, I decided to turn on the breaker and see if the fixture worked at all. So I went down to the basement and turned all the off breakers back on...and the light worked! I quickly flipped the breakers back off and ran upstairs to finish the job, only to find the light still on. Yeah, that's right...I rewired the light fixture while it was still electrified.

That's why you always treat an electric wire like it's live (like I did), even if you know that it isn't. You know what's fun? Not getting electrocuted, that's what! Oh, and Skee-Ball...that's fun, too. When I gets rich, I'm gettin' me a Skee-Ball setup in my bippity-boppity-boop.


  • the breakers didn't control the light? is there a hidden set of breakers in your house??? or...


    By Blogger evilsciencechick, at Wed Jun 08, 08:21:00 PM 2005  

  • my ex was doing some rewiring and went to unscrew an 220 outlet that was shut off and not hooked up to anything, however he still got a shock when he touched it with the screwdriver....he too had something wrong with him!
    and dont you love houses that were built before there were any building codes?

    By Blogger Randi, at Thu Jun 09, 09:36:00 AM 2005  

  • Actually our house was built BEFORE 1890. According to the tax records, it was built sometime between 1877 and 1880. They only did the taxes every three years back then.

    Yeah, electricity is fun! Thank goodness for the cell phones. I always hated the yelling and running and screaming that used to be involved in checking the breaker controls.

    By Blogger Sylvana, at Thu Jun 09, 12:54:00 PM 2005  

  • My house was built about 100 years after yours, but the wiring was still done by a free-thinker. I can't tell you the number of times I was shocked replacing light fixtures in my bathroom because the wiring was weirder than I expected. (I haven't used my master bathroom in over 5 months now because of "ongoing projects"...) And even when I shut off the power to the dining room when I was replacing the chandelier, I still got shocked, probably because the chandelier was on the kitchen circuit.

    By Blogger Scott, at Thu Jun 09, 03:12:00 PM 2005  

  • There is a breaker for that light, but it was not the one (or ones) that I thought it might be. I guess I wasn't as clear as I could've been.

    Ah yes, ongoing projects...we have several of those under our roof...and outside, too.

    By Blogger sideshow bob, at Thu Jun 09, 05:40:00 PM 2005  

  • ongoing projects are the only reason i dont want to purchase a house.................

    By Blogger Randi, at Fri Jun 10, 10:17:00 AM 2005  

  • My cousin drilled into a wall in his brand new condo and nicked a live wire.
    Scared him so bad he took out an extra life insurance policy on himself. No lie.

    By Blogger Shamus O'Drunkahan, at Fri Jun 10, 04:24:00 PM 2005  

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