Depends On Your Definition of "Progress"

Documenting your life's work outside of work is really time-consuming. Let's play catch up.

Remember way back in last year when we dug up half our yard to uncover the large pieces of driveway underneath? Well we finally did something with some of the concrete amalgam: enter the fire pit. Perhaps fire pit is a misnomer, considering we're not sure if it's legal to start large fires in our yard here. We'll just call it the decorative hole in the ground for now.

Now, also remember from that same old post where the squirrels had eaten through some of the insulation on the power mains into our house? There's more where that came from. In fact, just a week ago we woke up after a particularly ornery storm had come through to find that half of the electrical circuits in our house didn't work. Did the usual checks, no breakers were tripped, no lines were loose, no water damage, no squirrel damage....then I got out the digital multi-meter to start probing (yeah, that's right).

First checked an outlet that was working and saw ~121 VAC (volts) as normal. Checked an outlet that wasn't working and got ~20 VAC...so they were still getting power, but not enough to run anything designed for 120. Went back to the breaker box and discovered that every other breaker exactly in order was reading 120-20-120-20-120-20 (-ish). Traced it back to the two big mains coming into the house. Every house has two 120 mains coming in and one ground. The breakers are wired such that each main services every other breaker so when you add breakers they end up evenly distributed between the two mains. The other reason is so when you put in a double breaker for a 240 VAC outlet (to run your dryer or range for example) it will take the two separate 120 VAC lines to be able to essentially add them together and get 240 at the appliance. As a result, our dryer and range were only getting ~140 VAC...

Anyways, this means the problem is outside of our house. The two possibilities are that we have a problem inside our power meter box, at the weatherhead, or in the lines to the transformer up on the street poles. For reference, pretty much every electrical company says the customer is responsible for anything from the weatherhead IN to the house (except for the meter, which you aren't allowed to screw with). We called the power company to come check their lines before I started scaling our house and electrocuting myself.

As it turns out, our mains are routed through a couple decorative trees that were planted in our front yard. Over the years the three lines that are twisted together had rubbed up against tree branches so much that it had worn through the insulation and one main and the ground started to fuse together, creating a resistive short, which made the wires get even hotter and melt together (they were permanently one piece) while corroding due to atmospheric exposure. They replaced them with all new lines from the pole to the splice outside the weatherhead and we were back in business!

And that catches you up on everything in the past 5 months. But not really.


Currently listening to "Lost" by Avenged Sevenfold

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