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Friday, December 7, 2012

Catastrophe Averted

On November 30, just last week, I was truly crushed by circumstances. I have a 220 heater that I cannot use in my bedroom because I cannot sleep in a hot room. (When it is really cold, it is useless.) I did have to plug it in so that the room would be warm enough for the dehumidifier to function.

It takes an extension cord in order to use the heater and not have it in the part of the bedroom where the pouring rain or sprinkles come into my bedroom. Yes, it is gross. Anyway, I unplugged the extension cord from the wall and just happened to glance at the plug. It had burned a huge chunk of the plastic/rubber plug. The portion was gone and I could see wires. Later, it was all green, corroded for some reason. Never mind that! I took it back to Lowe's and got my money back. First of all, it was the wrong gauge wire. Second, they assured me it would work. They were right; it did work...until it failed.

I was muddling around, feeling lost because I just knew my house was going to burn down, OR it would cost me a small fortune for an electrician to replace the 220 wire to the breaker box. OR, my heater was broken, and I would not have heat. OR, I would have to spend hundreds of dollars for a 220 heater. This is not a 110 kind of room--19' x 17" and 10" ceilings. Let me tell you, I was feeling very low.

An hour later, I realized that it was time to turn on lights as it was early evening and I could barely see. So, I pulled the little cord over the sink to have that light while I used the bathroom. No dice. TWO bulbs burning out at once? I tried to turn on the ceiling fan...over and over and over again. It was in disbelief. I wandered into the kitchen, wondering what had gone wrong AND found the ceiling fan and light would not work, either. Catastrophe! I yanked the refrigerator open and was relieved. The stove works. The light over the sink works! Yippie!  The 110 outlet where I plug hairdryer, curling iron and a 110 heater (not all at once) was not working either. In the bathroom that's no heat, light, or small appliance use.

The TV and laptop and lamp by my chair worked. No other lamp worked where I sit and do things. Since the light in the room next to me was once on and now off, I realized I had a widespread power problem, but an intermittent problem. A light that stays on in the front room was off. The porch light and two other outdoor lights worked. The washer and dryer worked but it was pitch dark in there.

This was a problem I could not live with. Dim light is not conducive to functioning with cataracts.

After grabbing a flashlight, I headed out doors to brave the scary stairs into the basement. I checked and rechecked, yes, the breaker for that heater was thrown. No, no other breakers were thrown.

I was ashamed of myself for not being able to prevent catastrophe. I was ashamed I could not take care of myself. Yes, I was in a low, hurting place.

I was afraid, very afraid of fire breaking out. Fire is a phobia of mine since I stood and watched my house burn down when I was four-years-old. Some things scar a person forever.

I talked with Charlie every day and he would come "some day.". He was dragging his feet. He was just trying to be annoying. Then, I had an epiphany. I also have a fuse box in the hall closet. Aha! Of course, if the box burned out, that was bad news. But, if it were just a fuse, Charlie could fix that and the curious problem of some things working and some not would be solved.

The fuse box has been here for at least 100 years. It is a wooden, homemade box fitted with a flat ceramic plate, sort of like sink material. The fuses are screwed into the ceramic.

Finally, on Thursday he came here, examined the 220 outlet, looked over the breaker box. We set off for the electric supply place. He was yelling about not calling first, but since he did not get here until 3 pm, we had to hurry to get to the electric supply place before they closed. If they did not have what he needed to make a 220 extension cord, we were still across the street from the other electric supply and on the way to Lowe's. I buy from the two local electrical supply places when I can.

The material to make the extension cord was $44, total when we left with with new outlet and a box of 20 volt and a box of 30 volt fuses was $58...steep for me. He made the extension cord, put in a new outlet, and the 220 heater worked.

As it turned out, the one blown fuse was the only fuse that has blown in this house since I moved here in 1977. I feel lucky. The whole house fuse blew in 1985, so I have been very lucky. Well, it was one of the two main fuses. The whole house was weirdly dim (1985 still), so I got a whole house fuse in the middle of the night from an electrician who said he would leave it on the bumper of his truck, to call him the next day. Yes, it was about 10 pm and he was asleep.

I did save some money, so that catastrophe was averted. But, I did spend money that I had to borrow. Now, I have heat so the dehumidifier will work, but that heater cannot be used when it rains in the bedroom. No, I am never warm or dry in that room.

Charlie replaced the 220 outlet while he had daylight to augment his headlamp. Then, he replaced the fuse and turned on the 220 breaker downstairs in the basement. Then, as he sat in the bedroom floor, I was basking in bathroom light, curling my hair, teasing the crown and looking in the mirror to see the back of my hair. I glanced down and saw the 110 heater in the bathroom was on and thought how it did not need to be on.

I flipped it off and gasped. The fan  had not been on. So, I flipped it on again. No, the fan was not on. I yelled to Charlie, asking if that was a problem. Yes! I flipped the heater on again and checked to see if the fan light were on. No. So, now I don't have a heater to use. That was the heater I sort of dragged from the bathroom to warm me in the den where I sit. No heater=new low. Charlie said that was what blew the fuse.

So, now I figure a fire catastrophe was averted, also. There still looms the problem of a heater....

My nerves are shot. So, that is that.


  1. Whoa, I'm glad the catastrophe was averted, sorry about the whole heater situation. That's scary. If it helps, I've nominated you for a Reader Appreciation Award You've been reading my blog for a while and I do appreciate it. As bloggers, we never know if anyone will really read what we publish. This is my way of saying thanks.

  2. justwithme,
    Thanks so much for the award. I have enjoyed your blog. Give me some time to post my part.


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