Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Right Outlet

I would say for the past year, at least, we've had a couple of defective outlets in our kitchen. For safety purposes they installed these things called GFCI breakers, which I believe are now required in places where water exists, including bathrooms, kitchens, and the great outdoors. They are designed to save lives because they detect an imbalance or surge in power that shuts them down. When this happens you simply reset the outlet by pressing the reset button (it doesn't get any simpler than that). It's actually pretty cool technology, though it's been around for years. We have a few of them in the kitchen, and two of them were not working properly, so we employed our standard MO in dealing with them by ignoring the problem until the next time that the Amazing PR Man came for a visit, which is unfortunately not that often.

Now I know I'm just a clueless dork, but one of the outlets did not have the test/reset button, so I made this crazy assumption that the GFCI breaker was located in the fuse box. After searching for it and not finding it, I wasn't sure what to do about it, so I left it at that, which was inconvenient because now 2 out of the 3 outlets in the kitchen was non-functional. A complete pain, especially when R and I were positioning ourselves to use the one outlet.

The other day our good friend, JP, came by to do a drop-off while I was in the basement chopping kindling. JP happens to be the same person who is cool enough to lend us his splitter, and he came down to tell me that it was in need of maintenance and would be down for an unknown amount of time. Total bummer because I have probably a cord of wood that I can't split by hand, at least not yet. Then again, I'm not in a position to complain, am I?

I told him no problem, he was doing me a favor, after all, but figured since he was here, could he take a look at our outlet problem. JP happens to be an licensed electrician, and he not only identified the problem, but he was ready and equipped to fix it right then and there. Apparently outlets can be wired relative with one another, so a GFCI on one can shut down another that is downstream from it. That explains why one of them did not have a reset button. So, when one outlet does, the ones downstream from it go, as well.

Whatever be the case, JP had an extra outlet that he was kind enough to give to us, and he put the thing in in about five minutes. He didn't even bother shutting down the power, which I've noticed experienced electricians all do: they don't seem to be worried about getting shocked. Not only that, but he gave me a power detector that is basically a pen the can detect electricity through the wire insulation. You hold the point near the outlet and it lights up if the thing is live. Very cool. It can even detect static electricity in your skin, so you can bet that N had hours of fun playing with it.

Now we have full power in the kitchen, and our lives are that much easier. I invited JP over to eat since his kid was over for supper before we headed off for a movie, but he politely declined and was on his way. I owe him big time, but he's the kind of guy who enjoys helping out and doesn't need anything in return, much like a lot of people in that we know. You gotta love small town life.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Bill Daly for the pic.

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