03 May 2007

Home improvement adventure, Part 1

You'll see somewhere in the middle why I wasn't able to blog about all this as it happened:

[Paraphrased from Tannah's post]

Basically a few weeks ago, Tannah and I started on our house projects. We both learned a small but important lesson: sometimes it's better to leave well enough alone. Tannah wanted to run 14-gauge speaker wires in the living room for the surround sound system. That was totally okay, but I never realized how many huge holes would be made throughout our little project. It took most of the day to run the front speaker wires and I had to crawl in the attic to run the wires for the back speakers. Most of you know how much I hate that: I'm both claustrophobic and fear bugs. Tannah felt so bad, since he was supposed to be in the attic, but he just couldn't fit through the beams. He told me that he's done his time in attics doing alarm and camera systems at work, but he'd never seen beams so damn close together. Honestly, I could barely fit through. Sadly, I was up there for most of the afternoon, and I was so so happy to be done with it. He had to feed the speaker wires to me because the roof and ceiling were way too close together for me to reach. All in all, the wires were run and the living room was one step closer to being finished.

So in the middle of the project, we convinced each other that we can easily add some track lighting into the living room. The only problem was, there's no light switch in there, and really, I'd never done anything like this at home. On a jobsite, there was always a journeyman to go to if I got confused; at home, I'm on my own. We would have to do everything from scratch, add a switch, tap into a power source and run all new lines. I'm somewhat confident in my abilities but still...I don't feel I've got the training I need up to this point.

Track lighting soon became recessed fixtures which soon became recessed fixtures with adjustable lenses. So within two weeks of our project(s), there were a freaking huge hole behind where the TV would be and several holes by a receptacle where we stole power for our living room lights. The problem was, we ran into a "little snag". Around 22h00, 14 April, we were finishing up and Tannah turned power back on for the rest of the house. Everything looked amazing. We marvelled at the new brightness and Tannah got ballsy and flipped the switch to turn off the lights and there was an arc, and that scared the living hell out of both of us. Next thing we knew, the house was dark. I mean the whole house, and it was like, "Oh fuck, we blew out the breaker". Something was wrong, when I turned the breaker back on the entire panel shook like it was going to explode and it was seriously arcing. Arcing like I hadn't seen since my joys of working temp power. We elected to turn off that specific breaker, and the house looked fine but when we turned on a light switch from anywhere in the house, the lights flicker then turned off. I thought something was cross-phased and neither one of us knew what to do in a situation like that. The sad and pathetic truth hit me: I may be learning to be an electrician, but I wasn't one just yet. Tannah sure as hell didn't know what to do, as he only worked with low voltage. Phone calls were made: I called Snow...which I felt horrible for doing, but I was positive that he would know a good service truck driver. I also talked to Sanj, who in turn called Sinisha, who was over in less than an hour.

Long story short, we had lived in our crippled home for about a week and a half and after hearing a creepy hissing from the panel, we finally called Nevada Power and because Jack found out that I was with the IBEW, he busted his ass to fix everything. It took him four hours before he finally got it going again. And as a souvenir, Jack gave me the half-melted lug that had originally held the rogue #2 wire, and we found out then that one of the line-side leads to our house was fragged. (In Tannah's words: "Basically, the big-ass wire from the street was never bolted down in our panel.") When the surge occured, the breaker should have just tripped, but because the line-side feed was loose, it damaged the panel.

The following weekend, Snow and Sanj came over to help me investigate, and oh my God, I was so seriously embarassed: the "cross-phase" wasn't that at all, but a really idiotic mistake I won't even admit to. Snow checked all the connections for me and walked me though the process of fixing my shameful mistake with unbelievable patience. Sanj, being the good friend that she is, hung out with us during this crisis. Tannah had just bought his Wii and both Sanj and Lys had a blast playing Wii Sports. That kind of normalcy kept us from freaking out.

So for those how are pissed because I didn't return your calls and emails and didn't update the blog, this was my excuse.

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