Sunday, February 05, 2006

Murphy's Law and Electrical Wiring

Last November, one of my best friends announced that she would be celebrating her end-of-January birthday with a weekend and party in Marrakech, and we were all invited. Of course, it seemed like a distant and exotic dream to us, unless we decided to make the trek with all three kids. But then, fortune smiled upon us in the form of the World's Best Babysitter (WBB), our first-ever babysitter from 6 years ago, who had since grown up and taught school for a few years, and was now studying again. She came by for a visit to see the kids, and volunteered for the challenging and rewarding (?) position of babysitter for our gang of three, for SIX WHOLE DAYS. We couldn't believe our luck! So we tempted fate, booked tickets and a hotel, and made plans to go.

The day before the trip we made our morning trek to the breakfast table, whereupon my daughter announced that it was cold in the house. I checked the temperature gauge and noticed that it was a couple of degrees below the usual tropical temperature usually found in our house. Just for kicks, I wandered to the basement to check the värmepump (VP) and saw that it was completely dead, as were several lights in the house. I immediately called the plumber who suggested that I buy fuses (the old-fashioned screw-in kind) and he would come by later for a look. On the way back from dagis drop-off, I stopped at the grocery and bought a selection - 8 boxes in various sizes, thinking it was best to be prepared. I changed the VP fuses, and things came back and seemed on track... for about 10 minutes, when the whole system went black again, taking with it a random assortment of lights in the house - kitchen counter lights, but not the overhead lights; the stove top but not the oven; the dining area, but not the living room; the upstairs hallway but not the bathroom - we won't even mention the crazy way the house is wired. Let's just say that we are "fortunate" in that our electrical system is so screwed up that the whole house is rarely left completely in the dark. We then had visits from:

10am - The plumbers - who pronounced a complete failure of every fuse in the panel, and pulled most of them, even ones that were working.


1pm - The electrician - who pronounced a failure of the power from the street, ie. a grid and distribution problem.


4pm - The grid electricians - who fixed the grid problem, replaced the three main fuses for the house, got everything up and running, waved goodbye, and drove off just as the house plunged into darkness again.


7pm - The emergency grid electricians - who said that the problem was no longer in the grid, but in our house and BV.


8:30pm - The emergency BV technician BY PHONE was able to diagnose the problem, talk me through two fuse changes (each one bought us 5 minutes to work with before the lights went out again) and give me instructions to decouple the compressor from the BV, so it would just work on electricity.

9am, day of travel - The emergency BV technician who removed the compressor from the operation.


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