Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bang and Whack!

This week started with a BANG!

Remember that weird popping and dimming of the lights that heralded our old water heater's demise? Well, about 1 am I was lying in bed, reading (Yeah, yeah, it was a work night. But I had to finish!) when the lights did their thing again. I lay there and said, in effect. "No way. Has to be dirty power." and soon turned out the light and went to sleep.

The next morning my poor little sister tried to take a shower and found she had no hot water! She investigated and discovered black soot all around the electronics bay on the top of the water heater. grrrrrrr.....

That's right - we blew up the water heater.
Aren't we clever?

Turns out we have aluminum wiring for that circuit, and aluminum wiring and copper wiring are not happy with each other.

Now, I like to think of myself as an intelligent human being, and I'm pretty handy with electronics, but I've never come across aluminum wiring! Heck in the house where I grew up we had bare copper wires in the attic (circa 1920s). Dad just finished swapping them all out last year.

We've replaced plugs and switches, installed ceiling fans and lights and always encountered copper wire. Who knew that we had aluminum lurking in the walls?

The sorry, melted remains of the wiring, connectors and drip pan.

See that nice little hole drilled through the metal? And the spot above it where it almost melted through?
Isn't electricity fun?

I now know lots about aluminum wiring... more than I wanted to.
If you live in this area and your home is between 20 and 30 years old, beware - you might be having this fun and not be aware of it. Seems using aluminum wiring for the major appliances was quite the thing, and the resist that they used to connect the two metals dries out after a number of years, and when it does - POW!

Fortunately we have copper wiring for the rest of the house, or else I'd be crying right now.

Many thanks to the good people at George Morlan. They sent out a tech right away who explained things and showed us a wonderful little connector that solves the problem. Oh, and the water heater got a full checkup and passed - it was only the external wiring that fried. Hot water once again sloshes happily in our pipes.

That was the bang - the WHACK was my sister and I pruning the rose bushes in the back yard within an inch of their lives. We needed to clear the way so that we can replace the poor back fence which was on its last legs last year and is reeling this year.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest you probably had the same day we did - bright beautiful sunshine but frosty temperatures. It was cold and blowing, but we enjoyed ourselves. Hacking, slicing and chopping can be very therapeutic!

Before - ah what a tangled web. Mallory says Hi.

I remember my Mother making bread. Lots of bread. Really good bread.
With seven children to feed, making bread happens a lot, but when I was older she confided to me that the end result wasn't the only reason for making the bread. Kneading dough is a great way to get rid of your frustrations. Pound that dough for a bit and things start to look better (it also makes for a lovely crumb).
I suppose I have bread to thank for not getting my behind whooped more often! hehe!

After - lovely no? Sorry about the shadow, the afternoon was wearing down.

We ended up with frosty finger tips, lots of thorn punctures and a nicely pruned backyard. Ah, the joys of a job well done!


5xblsd said...

Phewww on the water heater. Props to George Marlin on the great service. I will file that in my short but sometimes useful memory for future use (my water heater is 12+ years old). Aren't roses great you can cut them to the ground and they come right back.
I may have to take up bread making (skip the breadmaker). I don't yell at home too often but I will confess to some moments when I pull the car over and give a big scream or two. The bread might save my vocal cords.

The Other Sister said...

Oh yah, when I saw the soot marks coming out of the electrical pan I almost burst into tears, I was certain we had fried our new water heater. What a relief when the repairman said it was only a half hour job to fix it. He said he saw this sort of trouble all the time, and they don't even charge for the al/copper connectors. Whew...

Heather said...

Go for the bread, Lisa! You'll get stress reduction and a warm tummy to boot. Just remember the honey butter. :)

And a big Hello to my wonderful sister, who saves the day repeatedly!
By the time I got home from work everything was sorted and purring along. Yay for Holly!