Monday, January 14, 2013

Circuit Suckimus

So yesterday night we were sitting around and suddenly the lights in the family room went out, along with the electric fireplace and the internet router.

I checked the breaker box and we hadn't blow a circuit breaker but the lights failed to come back on in the room. All other lights and everything else in the house is ok.

So this morning my friend who is an electrician came by. Sure enough its not something simple like my missing a tripped breaker or anything like that.

It turns out that the idiots who refurbed the house before we had bought it were indeed idiots.

First, they put 30 amps worth of lights and plugs on a 20 amp circuit. Bad enough.

Second, and much worse, they did not remove some Romex Aluminum wire from the house but instead tied into it for this circuit. The Romex Aluminum is some very bad stuff.

So, my friendly electrician suspects the wire has broken apart somewhere under the load. The trouble is, the break is not in any obvious spot and may very well be behind some drywall rather than at a junction box or somewhere an easy fix can be made. That is going to $$$uck.

Adding to the fun, the idiots really were screwing with the wiring when they did the job, and its a major pain to trace it, not to mention a slew of junction boxes in the attic. How this colossal stupidity got past the code inspection is beyond me, 'cause it sure doesn't meet code.

Now I'm buying lots of replacement LED can lights to replace the current 65 watt cans on the circuit to reduce the draw, and I will be installing them post haste. Pricey, but the savings in reduced energy and replacement bulbs means the payoff is about 3 years. I can live with that but really wished I could have avoided such an expense right now.

Luckily, there's been no fire due to this idiocy, just some areas of darkness.


Expatriate Owl said...

Brings back memories!

20+ years ago, in our previous house, we remodeled the kitchen and the bathroom (which was on the other side of the kitchen wall). Everything was stripped down to the studs and joists.

Good thing that we did! Prior owners of the house (according to neighbors, most likely the ones before the ones we bought it from) with the do-it-yourself-and-save-money bug had:

A. Connected the range and oven to the black iron gas pipes with copper tubing, and the corrosion was already beginning to show at the joint; and

B. Used lamp cord in the wall to connect the light switches to the lights.

The wrong combination of a short circuit and leaking gas, I don't even want to think about!

But our contractors fixed everything up correctly, with new pipes and wiring.

And they finished about a week and a half before Passover, so we just didn't use the kitchen until then. A very effective but very expensive way to get the house ready for the holiday!

Aaron said...

Yep, lovely when the home refurbishment idiots cut corners on the important yet unseen.

Turns out we had some very charred wires as the wire broke apart pretty impressively. Lots of scorching and scorch marks at the junction box, but luckily no fire that caught on anything. Thankfully it was an easy repair once found.