Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Electric Shower

I never thought I would be considering the electricity as a house update, but it's been quite the adventure with many stories. To be honest, I'm not quite sure how well I can tell the story since it's so complicated, but I'll do my best.

Well, it all started with the shower. Basically, Dennis took a shower one day, and as he turned off the faucets, he got a pretty good zap. He wasn't expecting that of course, so once he was out, he got his electricity reader and it read 20 volts. For whatever reason, electricity was going through the shower.

Well, this was scary for obvious reasons, but all I could think of when Dennis told me the problem was that just an hour before Dennis took his shower, we had Luke in the very same shower. Whatever happened, happened AFTER Luke's shower, thank goodness. Not that I would want Dennis to get zapped but his body could handle it better than Luke's.

Anyway, Dennis began to work on the problem which would last many weeks of problem solving. Even now, as I write this, the problem is still not solved. Ideally, an electrician would be called in, but I had no idea that they cost so much. Just to have them come in for a consultation without touching anything is about $200.

At first, the problem was so overwhelming that we didn't do anything about it. Just like when you wreck your car in a car accident, or transmission goes out, you don't go running out to the car lot to buy a new car the next day. (At least, the people that I know don't.) The unexpected happens so suddenly, and without a plan, you don't really know what to do. So we just avoided the problem for about a week and in the meantime, didn't use the shower.

But then, things began to break. I noticed it in our microwave first. Henry really loves hotdogs and eats a lot of them so we use the microwave to heat them up. What took me merely a 20 seconds to heat one hotdog now took me 1 minute and 30 seconds just to get it a little more than lukewarm. I purposely didn't say anything to Dennis about it at first because I knew he was so stressed out about the shower issue but he began to notice the microwave failing on his own. We didn't know at the time that it was linked to our electrical problems.

Then, one day as we were talking about our problems with the microwave and shower, the kitchen lights began to flicker and then suddenly went out. While we stood there in the dark in silence (I didn't dare say a thing in case I started laughing,) they flickered again, and turned back on. Without a word, Dennis turned on his heel and went back to work to investigate the issue.

Other things continued to happen, such as our garage door opener shorting out. We had just had it fixed a few months ago and I was so happy to not have to manually open the heavy door--especially in the winter, when you have to fight against the ice and snow, but now we are back to opening it ourselves since we don't have the money right now to fix it.

One evening, after the kids were bedded down for the night, I was relaxing watching TV when it suddenly turned off for no reason. It was no surprise to me anymore when things just suddenly turned off or on. I simply got the remote and turned it back on.

The last thing to break was the furnace. That was the last straw. Dennis began to get very depressed over the issue. We were literally going broke from trying to fix the house, while at the same time, things kept breaking.

The good news is that even though this problem has forced us to spend money we didn't want to spend, Dennis has fixed a number of other electrical issues that were going on in the house. In our home inspection, it was advised that we change all the outlets in the house. I'm sure the Dennis understood the deeper reason as to why, but for me, it didn't go too deep at all and didn't seem too important. Not only that, but there are tons of outlets in this house. Much more than we ever had in our old house. Even now as I write this, I'm counting five outlets and this is only a bedroom. We had so many bigger issues to deal with, such as the dog-pee carpet and plywood floors, that changing outlets didn't seem too important.

So far, Dennis has fixed three bedrooms and the playroom as far as outlets go. He has had a couple of good zaps in the process but despite them,  he's always been good about being careful. I usually help him figure out what switch turns off which outlet  He found a bunch of the outlets not correctly wired correctly which was causing energy in one of the outlets be used excessively (two hotwires connected together) which has been giving us huge energy bills every month. I can't  explain all the problems since I don't completely understand it myself, but I do know that a ground wire is very important, and that it seems that every outlet that Dennis has worked on "has no ground".  We have yet to see if this will improve our electricity bill; it has always been unusually high. So far, our microwave is back to normal and cooks a hotdog now at 20 seconds, so that's a good sign that the energy is starting to circulate and not drain certain areas of the house.

Oh, and he also found an outlet in our room where a wire had been chewed through by a mouse--and the dead mouse right next to it. Ewww.

He also has replaced the bedroom lights. Bonus for me! For now, all household projects have again come to a halt since this new electrical problem has come about. I don't dare ask when I can paint the bathroom or when we might get the dining room floor put in. So when Dennis mentioned that we need to get the bedroom lights changed, I was all for it, though our reasons were very different. The only problem was that if we were going to change the lights, then I wanted to go with something more updated, while Dennis wanted to stay cheap, which meant we would have to go with the least updated lights. I was very excited when I found some very inexpensive bedroom lights for only $10 each (!!!) and they were not ugly or dated. They were not fancy, but I was actually really happy with what we got. And I am so happy to finally be rid of the broken ceiling fans in the bedrooms. (Every bedroom had a ceiling fan in it where blades were missing or just broken. Not to mention they were all wired incorrectly which is a huge fire hazard.)

Dennis got rid of our ceiling fan first. I had been staring at this broken thing all summer long, which had been stuffed with a small purse wallet, pamphlets and books to keep it "stable". I have to remind myself many times that it was a single mother that was living here and that she likely did the best she could when things broke. Still, I wish she had taken the "fixings" with her.

A closer look at the books and pretty much everything stuffed under the light

Our new $10 light

Henry's room...

Henry's old ceiling fan with all the blades missing.

We bought the same type of light for his room.

Okwell, I guess if you've seen one light, you've seen them all, so I won't bore you with lights anymore.
Our problem is not yet over; even after changing almost all the outlets and most of the bedroom lights (the girls room is not yet changed), the shower is testing out at 60 volts. The fact that it's higher doesn't seem to matter too much; it's very sporadic--sometimes it tests at 20, sometimes 6o and another time it tested at 10 volts. So we seem to be a little closer to the solution but it still is a mystery to us.
 I have very little to offer as far as help goes with this situation. I can't offer advice, help, or even money. So all I can do is pray. Daily I've prayed, "Lord, I am waiting for you do something about this." Watching Dennis become so discouraged and me not be able to do one thing to help has been pretty hard. So I just pray and wait.
So how happy was I when I got an email one day from our friend and neighbor, who knew about our situation, that she and another friend found an electrician who wanted to come and look at our house to offer some advise and help. They assured us to not worry about the bill--our friend is a realtor and finally sold a house that has been in limbo since 2011. In thanksgiving, she promised God she would use some of the money to help someone in need, and we seemed like the people to help.
You see how God answers prayer? He just likes to wait us out sometimes. How faithful will we be? Will we continue to trust as He makes us wait? It's a test of our friendship with God, to see if it's really as strong as we think it is. Will we still love Him if He doesn't answer our prayers the way we had hoped?
Sometimes He doesn't and many times, He hasn't for me. Many times I am disappointed and mystified. But my reaction always makes me look a little closer at my friendship with Him. Do I still love Him even though He has denied my request?
Today He said yes. I told Him He needed to do something to help us, and He did. He made us wait a few weeks and let us pray a little harder, but He answered through the help of good friends and neighbors. Our problem won't be solved tomorrow--as far as I understand, this apt with the electrician won't be a "fix it" appointment, but it will be a few steps into what we need to do to fix it. Tomorrow we will be much better off than where we are today.
And hopefully, because of all this, our bills will be smaller, our load will be lighter, and our faith will be stronger. So that is many prayers answered.

1 comment:

  1. Electric shower not a good thing. Oh, Becky, I'm glad you are all safe.