Friday, September 10, 2010

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Yesterday I noticed that the overhead lights in my garage were both burned out.  Before getting out the big ladder to replace them, I checked the breaker box.  Lo and behold, #25 had popped.  I thought this would be simple - turn it off, turn it on and all would be well.  But it would make a little buzz and then pop again.  Okay, something was wrong.  I can live without garage lights, so I just put it out of my mind for the time being.  I would deal with it later.

This morning Holly Berry, my cat, was driving me nuts - again!  Last night she pestered me until I checked her food dish and found it empty.  Having filled it to the brim, I was sure that hunger wasn't her problem.  I followed her down to the family room, but instead of going to her dish, she headed for a door begging to be let out.  The animals all wear magnets around their necks, which activate a small sliding door so that they can go in and out at will.  Perhaps she lost her magnet again.  It wouldn't be the first time.  Nope, her magnet was on her collar, so I checked the animal door.  It didn't work.  And both lights were out in the storage room.  I had two areas with no lights.  Still believing the problem was the breaker, tonight when I got home from market, I called Allen and asked if he had ever changed out a breaker.  He said he hadn't (wise move!).  I told him I had looked up instructions on the internet and it didn't seem too hard.  Then he told me about the smoke or dust or some such thing that he saw coming out of the outlet on a post by the water trough in Paddock 9.

Aha!  The breaker was probably good, and doing exactly what it should be doing.  The cows had knocked the cover off the switch within ten minutes of installation - plastic housing, poorly made.  So it was in tough shape.  I was pretty sure I had found the problem, since the outlet by the water tank had been run from my storage room, the storage room with the overhead lights out and the pet door that didn't work.  I called the installer.  Of course, on Friday night, this was going to cost some big money, but the pets needed their door!  He said I could save a trip charge if I waited until he came out on some other business on Friday.  I asked him what I would have to do to make it non-operational so that I could get the breaker to stay on, and he explained that I could remove the outlet and put plastic nuts on the end of each wire.

Okay, I thought, I can do that.  Then I thought, if I'm going to take it apart to disable it, why not just replace it?  I headed out to the local hardware store, and with some excellent advice from the clerk there, including how to make sure I didn't kill myself in the process, I headed home with a bag of tools and parts, costing about $15.

I tested to make sure there was no juice running to the outlet.  A little WD-40 loosened up the old screws, and before I proceeded too far, on the advice of the clerk at the hardware store, I checked the wires at the back to make sure they were dead.  They were, and the old part was out in no time.  Within about 15 minutes, I had the new part in and a new outlet cover installed.  This one fits flush, and hopefully the cows will not knock it off.

Jiffy Pop "helping"
They are so nosy! If they would just leave things alone!!  Sam came over and licked my face while I was working, and of course Jiffy Pop had to get her nose into things.

But at last, everything was put back together and the job was done.

I feel pretty good about doing this. In addition to the money I saved, there was a great deal of satisfaction in hitting the breaker and seeing the overhead lights go on in the garage.  All is well.  The pets can get in and out of their door.  The tools are put away, and all is right with the world.

So the romance between Rosie and Sam and my successful electrical wiring job are my two little tales for today.

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