Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Last night was strange. I got home and pulled into the driveway, and hit the electric garage door opener, but it wouldn't open. I thought maybe the battery was getting weak, so I tried it again, and then I held it up to the windshield and pushed it, but no luck. So either the batteries were too weak, or the door was broken. So I parked in front of the garage door and walked around the house to let myself in the front door, and hopefully open the garage from the inside.

When I opened up the front door, I reached in to turn on the light, but it wouldn't come on. The house was completely dark. I thought, aha, the power is out. We had had a pretty severe storm early in the day, so that made sense. So I walked back out to the car and got my computer and purse, locked the car, and came back inside the house. As I walked up to the house, I looked around, and it looked like there were lights in other houses, so it wasn't a neighborhood-wide power outage, anyway.

I knew where a flashlight was--on the table in the living room where Bob drops his keys--so I got that and looked around. The clock on the coffeemaker was on, and the clock on the microwave, and I opened up the refrigerator, and it was on, too. But no lights. I thought I might as well go down in the basement and try flipping the breakers, and as I started down the stairs, I tried the light just for kicks, and it came on. Hm. So I came back into the main part of the house and tried the lights there, and nothing came on.

Okay, so I had power in the basement, and some things were working in the house, but no lights. I went upstairs--we had power upstairs, the lights came on, no problem. So there was power in the basement, and power on the second floor, but nothing on the main floor. Or, no lights. Since it seemed so random, I went around and tried things, and the lamp by my chair where I normally sit came on. But that was the only light on the first floor that would come on.

I called my dad--Bob was working late--and asked him if there was anything I could do besides flip the breakers, and he said to look for a reset button on an outlet somewhere. He also suggested I call Bob's dad and ask him, since he had built the house, so I called him, and he said to try flipping the breakers, and also there should be a GFI (ground fault interrupter--I looked it up) somewhere in the house and I should try resetting that. I knew there was one on the first floor half bath.

I took my flashlight into the bathroom and tried pressing the reset button, but nothing happened. I pressed it a few times, then gave up, and went down to the basement--nice now that the lights were on--and flipped all the breakers, but nothing happene there, either.

So I sat down in my chair by the one light on the first floor and read until Bob got home. He had called to say he was on his way, so I told him what was going on, and when he got home he tried all the things that I had tried with the same result, nothing.

Bob said that he thought maybe the GFI had shorted out, so he was going to try replacing it, but by then it was about 10:00, and too late to go buy one. We were standing in the kitchen talking, thinking about what to do, and I was saying how odd it seemed that the coffeemaker, microwave, and refrigerator were all working, and I just idly turned the knob on the electric stove to see if it was working, too, and the lights came on. Um. Okay. I turned the stove off, and the lights went off. I turned it back on, and the lights came on.

Not really a long term solution, but interesting. Bob went back in the bathroom to try the GFI, and it worked now, and the lights stayed on, without having to turn the stove on. There was still something weird, though. When I ran the garbage disposal, the kitchen lights flickered; it reminded me of the old Frankenstein movies when Dr. Frankenstein flips the switch on the monster and all the lights flicker and blaze.

Bob was off today, so he bought a new GFI and installed it (and he said he only got a little electrocuted), and now everything seems fine. I don't know whether something got struck by lightning or whether it was just a coincidence, but it was sure weird.

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