Saturday, August 15, 2009

Always Try New Bulbs Before Calling the Electrician

While I'm not the most handy person in the world, I hold my own when it comes to home improvements. I have managed to paint almost all of the interior walls to my place and common staircase, installed cabinets and slate tile backsplashes (with help from friends), and refinished my deck (also with help).

When it comes to electrical work, however, I think it's best to contract out.

I did successfully install a few new lights at pre-wired receptacles, and changed all of my switches and fixtures from white to new grey ones. I have even added a few dimmer switches myself.

Last summer, I called an electrician. I needed some undercabinet fluorescent lights to be added to my new cabinet unit, and needed an outlet to be moved and secured at a new location. Perfectly legitimate project that was a bit outside of my fake electricial expertise. $500 later, I was all set.

One of those lights stopped working recently. In a separate but what I thought could have been a connected issue, the overhead light in my bedroom and plug immediately beneath that light's switch also stopped working. I distinctly remember plugging my vacuum into the socket, only to learn that I'd have to find another power source.

So, I called the electrician back and explained all of my problems. He said that he could come by on Thursday morning, and should be finished within two hours (the minimum time he bills, I'm figuring).

When he arrived, he brought a different undercabinet light with the intention of switching out some parts, as the ones I had installed last year were a special order, it appears. Fifteen minutes later, part switched, light works. Perfect.

I brought him into my bedroom to check out the outlet and switch. He used his voltmeter or whatever device he carried to test receptacles, and sure enough...both of them worked just fine.


I plugged the same vacuum into what I thought was a faulty socket, and sure enough - sucking power.

I looked at my overhead light and realized that I probably did not try new light bulbs. What were the odds that both bulbs would go at the same time and a plug would fail (which didn't). I figured the problem was behind the dry wall.

I grab two new light bulbs, change them, and voila - we have light.


How much of an idiot am I?

Not enough of one....

...because I then brought my electrician friend onto my deck for the final electrical problem - a GFI plug (the kind with the Test and Reset buttons) that had really never worked from day one of my moving here.

He hit the two buttons, and bingo - power.

Now, I know I have tried those buttons before. If a plug didn't work, and I saw two buttons on it, I would safely say my next action would be hitting those two buttons to see what happened. I did that years ago, never received power, and gave up on the socket.

But now, magic electrician comes, resets the switch, and we're back.

So, two hours of billed work became about twenty minutes of actual work, including one legit mini-project, two non-projects, and one idiot customer (me) who did not remember to try new light bulbs before calling the electrician.

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