Monday, May 18, 2009

More (Non Baffroom) Electrical Issues

Our television situation is kind of complicated. As I've detailed recently, we use Suddenlink for our internet and phone, but don't use them for our television cable access. Nothing against them in that regard, but we are still very much in bed with Dish Network, due to our love of their fantastic DVR. Having Dish means we still don't get most network TV channels, but we do get FOX and so about all we're missing out on these days are first run episodes of the Office, Scrubs and Lost. We're unwilling to wait for DVD releases when it comes to catching up with Lost, though, so we watch it online at ABC's site. It's kind of a pain, but it actually looks better than on our TV because my computer monitor is high def.

Friday night, we decided to watch us some Lost. And while we were finishing up an episode, the lights in the room began to flicker. In fact, they flickered so much at one point that the monitor went out. It had been raining on and off, but we'd not really heard any thunder, so I wasn't sure why this should be happening. Then, just at the climactic moment of the episode ("He's Our You") blam, the power went out entirely and stayed off. Or so we thought.

When the wife stood up to exit my office, she said, "Uh oh," and pointed down the hall. At the end of the hall we could see the plug in night light blazing away. It's not the kind with battery power. A quick exploration showed that while the office was very much off, much of the rest of the house still had power.

We deduced that the power outage had thrown a breaker or two, so we went to check the box and see what was up. However, despite flipping the master switch on and off and then the individual switches for the rooms without power, no power returned to them. We could think of no reason that this should be happening, as our idea of how electricity works is that you either have it, or you don't, or you have some sort of a serious electrical problem which we hoped did not stem from the amateur electrical work we'd done in the new bathroom over the past couple of weeks. Didn't seem likely, but what did we know?

"I guess we need to call the power company," I said. Both of us thought the power company was likely to tell us it was our problem, not theirs, but perhaps they would have an idea as to why it was happening. I called them. (And, by the way, despite being located in a room that had no power to it, my Suddenlink phone connection still worked due to the nifty battery backup in the modem.)

After getting through the hold queue and talking to a customer service rep, I was amazed when she didn't tell me the problem was my own. Back when I had Verizon, every time I phoned them about a problem, such as static on the line, they always heavily implied that the problem was somehow my fault and out of their control, and that if they sent someone out to check it and it turned out that the problem was not on their end they would charge me out the ass. (For the record: it was ALWAYS a problem on their end.) The power company rep did confirm that we'd already checked the breakers, but didn't call me crazy for asking if a having half our power was something they might be able to fix. She offered to send someone out to check it immediately. Then, as I was walking back toward the den to get a look out the front door to see if any of the street lights were out, I noticed that the living room lights were on again.

"Oh, the power's back," I told the rep. "No, wait, it's gone again," I said as it instantly flickered back off."

"Let me just send someone out to check it," she said.

Within 15 minutes, a truck was at the bottom of our drive and a man was shining spotlights at the power pole we share with our nearest neighbor. We went out into the darkness to watch as he climbed into his cherry picker and ascended to the pole. Presently the lights in our house began to flicker on and off, confirming for us that the problem had not been one of our home's immediate electrical system. Ten minutes later, we had both full power and relief restored to our lives.

1 comment:

crsunlimited said...

Gotta love brown outs. lol

I always thought that if you had one room or section out it had to be something with the breaker box. That is until my 3rd year of working at my local library. We lost power to half our computer bay, and every other section of florescent lights.

Turned out they had a massive breaker on the pole getting ready to go out and it was only supplying half the power. How exactly half the current equals half the stuff on as opposed to dim lights and dead computers boggles my mind, but there ya have it.