19 January 2008
So I just got back...four hours to get the electrical right. Definitely a learning experience.
Snow did agree to help me, so we met up at the house at 15h00. One of the daughters was there to let us in and show us the problems exactly, and where the panel was. The first issue was exactly as I had thought: the breaker needed to be replaced. We set that aside and looked in the boy's room to troubleshoot that problem.
I had been under the impression that there was no power to any of the receptacles in that room, but I was wrong: three did, two didn't. Snow showed me how to narrow down exactly how it was being fed so I could locate the problem. The two with no power were right next to each other, near the doorway, so I took the receptacles out and looked in. The first thing I noticed was that there weren't enough wires. Usually, when receptacles are looped together, there are wires in and wires out, and then they're pigtailed together to be made up and all...but there was none of that. Just one hot, one neutral and one ground, each. It took some time to figure out what was going on but we used a wire tracer that indicated that the two were just looped together, and no power had been run to either. At all. It was bizarre.
We decided to run power from the room's light switch to one of the receptacles which was essentially right below it. Since residential uses plastic j-boxes and romex, it was alot simpler. I poked the access holes through the boxes, we fished in the romex (which admittedly took alot of time), and wired it. Since I was wary of getting power from a switch (remember last April!) I was nervous, but Snow made me calm down and think it through so I wouldn't make a mistake. It wound up working fine.
Then a trip to Lowe's for a new breaker, got that installed, and everything was working as it should be. I talked to the homeowners and explained what the problems were and what we did to correct them, and it was awesome, I sounded like I actually knew what the hell I was doing. Really really grateful for it all.