The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Night the Lights Went Out... Halfway

The Bread Winner and I have been experiencing a bizarre electrical malfunction of late. It happened, as far as I can see, because of a Christmas present that my mother gave us--a present we had specifically asked for, I will add so that it does not seem as if I am laying the blame at her doorstep.

We have many pets, and we'd asked for two of those new-fangled air purifier thingis. You know, "ionic" this or that. They work silently, and you just wipe down the metal bar thing in the middle to clean it. Anyway, we'd asked for two, and lo and behold, this Christmas, what should be under the Christmas tree?

We plugged one in downstairs in our living room. All was fine. A few days later we got around to plugging one in upstairs in the bedroom. And that's when it happened. Some of the lights started to flicker, flicker, and then they went off. Not all of the lights, but about half of the lights in the house, more or less. Naturally, I assumed that the air purifier had blown a fuse. Knowing the (somewhat screwy) way the electrical lines run in this house, I mentally made a note to plug the purifier into another outlet in the bedroom that ran to a seperate fuse. Meanwhile, the Bread Winner went into the basement to flick the fuse back on. But it wasn't off.

Really? Really.

She came back upstairs, and we kind of stared up at the ceiling (we were in the kitchen, and the overhead light there had been affected). We were confused. And then, magically, a few minutes later, the lights came back on, as well as the power to various electronic devices plugged into the affected lines. We turned to each other, said, "That was weird," shrugged our shoulders, and went about our day.

The air purifier has been unplugged upstairs since then....but this weird power outtage keeps happening. It happens for hours at a time, and then voila! Let there be light! Let the telephone work! And the answering machine! (which, of course, are plugged into unhappy lines.)

What is particularly weird about all this that it's not just the line that the air purifier was plugged into that has been acting weird. It's four separate lines. They all go out simultaneously. And none of the fuses gets tripped. Weird. Really weird.

We were about to leave the house yesterday for a few hours, and I just started thinking about how dangerous whatever was happening might be. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I do a lot of home improvements myself. One realm I've stayed out of is electrical. I started thinking about a fire being started by some sort of electric high jinks, so I decided that the best thing to do was to go down to the electrical box and actually turn off all the lines that seemed to be affected by whatever has happened.

Strangely enough, although this is somewhat inconvenient and annoying, it's prefectly manageable. The power still works to the heater and the water heater. The line that the refrigerator and microwave are plugged into is also fine. As is the line that the television is plugged into (thank god!). The phone is out, but we've got cell phones, so it's not a big deal.

Now I've got to call an electrician, and for the first time since we bought this house in May 2003, we will pay someone to fix it.


  • Might it just be coincidence, and not the air purifier? I assume you've tried leaving them both unplugged to see whether it still happens.

    Either way there's certainly something not right!

    By Blogger Fyse, at 5:14 PM, January 10, 2005  

  • Electricity is something not to be messed with - I learned this the hard way. I live in an older house too and live in constant fear of coming home and seeing my former home burned down. Good luck with the repairs, hopefully your electrician is a good one.

    By Blogger Diva, at 9:24 PM, January 10, 2005  

  • Yeah...I agree. If you dont know what you're doing, hire a professional. Cuz in the end, youre just gonna end up messing things up.

    We're installing a new door for my room, and my dad bought the wrong size. Instead of going back and buying a whole other new one, he cut the door with a saw. But he needed to cut another inch. And another inch. And another inch.

    And now the door is now half the width of the entrance to my room and its so...never mind. The point is hire a professional. Trust me.

    By Blogger D.T., at 10:54 PM, January 10, 2005  

  • Hey everyone, thanks for the comments! As it turns out, the problem had nothing to do with the air purifier (which makes sense because the problem extended beyond that electric line). It had to do with the lines coming into the house from outside, and if the problem is outside of the house, what does that mean? Yes, it's the power company's responsibility! Yippee! I didn't have to pay anyone to fix it! So now I have electricity throughout the house and purified air to boot.

    By Blogger Oz, at 10:02 AM, January 12, 2005  

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