Always tweaking something!


Day 2306

Just the other day, we had a batch of oatmeal simmering in the crock pot. Apples, cinnamon, steel cut oats, probably some other stuff too. Smelled good anyhow. Crock pot was on the kitchen counter doing a long, slow, all day simmer, like they do.

]I was out on the back porch, finishing up the plastic sheeting to seal the porch screens from the snow. Built 12 frames of varying sizes, stapled 2 layers of 4 mil plastic sheeting to the frames and secured the frames in their appointed screens. Looks a helluva lot better than just stapling giant sheets of plastic to the porch, and we might get to use them for a few years before having to start the repair cycle.

Side bonus was that I finally got the material for these screen covers out of the garage and got my table saw up in the loft. I also sadly finally put my bike away for the winter, clearing out room to actually park my truck in thee garage, mere hours before Mother Nature cut loose with another pre-winter blast of lake effect snowfall. Again, we are disappointed with the local weather forecasters cheerfully predicting 1 – 2 feet of snow. Tuesday morning I had to clear a paltry 6 inches from the driveway. Pfffft!

But at least I didn’t have to brush that 6 inches off the truck OR jockey around the dang thing to get the driveway clear. That’s pretty cool.

Oh! Back to my point. Sunday evening we were putting the final touches on dinner prep. I was doing up some garlic bread to go along with Dinosaur Corn & Potato Chowder (Yum!) Little did I know that I just barely got the garlic bread done before things would go terribly wrong.

When I was slicing the bread in preparation for garlicking {shut it spell check, it is TOO a word!} it up I noticed the GFCI outlet the crock pot was plugged into trip. No biggie, I just hit the reset button and off we went. Two minutes later it tripped again. Reset. A minute later, it tripped again. Reset. Trip. Reset. Trip. Sensing a pattern here?

We had to give up on resetting the GFCI because the last time Cindy tried it she noticed blue sparky things happening inside. Now, being an electrical engineer, I was quick to jump to the conclusion that something was obviously wrong with the outlet. Even engineers know that blue sparks are NOT normal in an outlet – in spite of what we do to some of our circuit boards on initial power ups.

Moved the crock to another outlet and let the oatmeal finish. Noticed that the faulty circuit also affected the microwave (that was not on), a lamp in the room formerly known as the family room and also the 120V power to our gas stove. In wiping out the microwave, we also lost the light over the stove and the ventilation fan. Pretty sweet deal.

So. Monday night after spin class was when I realized that I’d have to fix that outlet sooner rather than later. I tried to fire up the oven to do a meat loaf. Ovens with electronic ignition don’t really heat up that well if there’s no electricity. There’s that engineering kicking in again!

So dinner plans changed on the spot. That soup from Sunday? Yeah. I could at least light a burner with a match and cook something. After dinner I swapped out that faulty ground fault outlet too. Good thing too – the clock on the microwave is really the only clock we have downstairs (besides the one on the TV) and I really missed it.

I meant to bring that outlet in to work so I could dissect it and see what the heck went wrong. I did the kitchen what, 3 or 4 years ago? That outlet hasn’t given us a lick of trouble up till Sunday night. Being a GFCI, it was also good for protecting up to 7 outlets in series connected after it – which included the microwave, stove and a lamp or two in the other room. Nothing has changed load wise in several years. I’m baffled as to why it would fail and I really wanted to take it apart. Again that engineering thing kicks in – if something broke, the first thing you gotta do is take it apart!

Oh well. Guess I’ll have to stick with boring work stuff for today and play with the outlet another day.

Disgusting side note:

Here it is only the 15th of December. If we get 4 more inches of snow (forecast is for 3 – 6) we will have set a record for the snowiest December on record. The previous record? 46.2 inches in Dec. of 2008. On only the 15th, we ‘officially’ have 42.7 inches.

I’m thinking a white Christmas is in the bag. So are a white New Years, Ground Hogs Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. Then comes the flood. Send boats.

It should be noted that there isn’t 4 feet of snow in my back yard at the moment. Snow melts, compresses and sublimates, so that 4 feet they measured at our airport has morphed into about 18 – 24 inches in the yard. 4 feet of snow REALLY sucks.


2 responses

  1. Good luck chasing down your Gremlins! How frustrating. What do you suspect being the likely culprit?

    December 15, 2010 at 11:42 am

    • bikinfool

      I really want to bring the failed outlet in to work and dissect it. I can research how the thing should function and might learn enough to determine if the outlet is at fault.

      Barring that, I know that large inductive loads (refrigerator compressor motors and the like) can be troublesome for GFCI’s. It’s easy enough to determine what else is on that circuit. If there is a big motor, I need to move it. Easy to say, difficult to do. It’s not like I can plug the fridge into a different outlet. Well I can, but there will be severe penalties issued by my interior designer if the cord is visible.

      I also noticed I had two GFCI outlets wired on the same circuit. Need to see if that can cause problems as well. Nuisance trips is one thing, but arcing inside the outlet is a whole different animal. I don’t mind a little shock every now & again, but the non-sparky types of the world kinda take offense to getting ‘lit’.

      December 15, 2010 at 3:15 pm

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