So, last night I threw dinner into the microwave. After a few seconds it shut down. I assumed we had just blown a fuse so I went down to the fuse box to see if I could get things working again. Unfortunately, we don't have a particularly definitive list of which fuse goes with which outlet in the house. I also never got around to finishing the project of cataloging the fuses we had and the fuses we use to make sure we had all of the fuses we needed. None of the fuses seemed blown so we swapped the ones that seemed kitchen related but couldn't make things work.
There was one fuse whose purpose we hadn't identified that we didn't have a replacement for. I planned to head out and see if I could buy a replacement for that one just in case. On the way out, I brought in a little USB hub to try and figure out how many outlets were affected by the problem (it has a little light on it). While plugging it into one of the outlets in the kitchen I heard a beep behind me which meant that the dishwasher was powered back on. So, it appeared that if we had something plugged into that one outlet in the kitchen then the other outlets worked. Without something plugged into that one outlet, the other outlets (microwave, dishwasher, phone, refrigerator) didn't work. We discussed it and planned to call an electrician the next day to fix it because it seemed pretty wrong.
This morning, I awoke to find monstersocks
standing in the doorway of the bedroom. She reported that she had tried to leave twice but it just wasn't working. The keypad on our garage door wasn't working and the people door (which we never use) was frozen shut. She hypothesized that we had disconnected the power to the garage while working with the fuses the previous evening, causing the keypad to lose its connection with the opener. I got dressed and bundled up (even though I didn't yet know quite how cold it was) and went out to help monstersocks
to try and get into the garage. I tried the keypad with no luck (I was hoping maybe it was set to a default 0000 code or something) and the door with no luck. Eventually we went back inside to retrieve some tools (at least those that weren't in the garage). I finally achieved success with a hammer and a screwdriver (used as a chisel) to break up the ice below the door. monstersocks
headed out to work while I continued working on the garage door situation, breaking up the rest of the ice around the door and salting the area. Further experimentation showed that the keypad problem was actually caused by a low or too cold battery. I replaced the battery and it started working correctly (if only I'd thought of that first).
Once that was taken care of, I started calling electricians. The first one I called said they could come over in an hour or two so I made an appointment. I disconnected most of the sensitive electronics and did some work while waiting for the call back. They finally came by about three hours later and took a look at the outlets. While waiting for them I had experimented a little more and, instead of the outlets working when something was plugged into the outer outlet, I discovered that jostling the other outlet actually appeared to enable and disable the outlets. The electricians found that both of the main problem outlets had some loose wires and one did not appear to be wired entirely correctly. They replaced both outlets which appears to have resolved the problem.
So, after they left I went out to get some additional fuses. That went pretty well as I found most of what I think I needed, although I'm still not entirely sure what some of the indicators on the fuses means.
I headed home, glad to be done with all of the stupid electrical and frozen stuff for the day. While stopped at a light about half a mile from my house, I saw some lights coming up behind me a bit too fast. I didn't react fast enough (although there wasn't much of anywhere to go) and I got rear ended by a van that apparently was going too fast (uphill) to stop in time. I got out and checked my bumper. It seemed okay, as did the other car, but I got the other driver's information just in case.
I expect the rest of 2009 will be more fun.