The wind has been howling for days. Sometimes it seems that it never stops. Over the weekend we began to notice, as we sat upstairs watching TV, that the light in the kitchen would blink off. The light by us and the TV never blinked. Then it started to have brown outs and go out long enough that clocks needed reset, but still the upstairs lights never fluttered.
It was very strange and more than a little disconcerting to be loosing power in half of the house.
We didn’t burn up in our sleep and didn’t notice it during the day, possibly because we didn’t have any lights on. My always working husband was busy all day with farm stuff and didn’t have a chance to look into it and we kind of forgot about it until night time when the lights would pull slowly down to black and hang there for a moment then come back on, while upstairs nothing happened. The internet was downstairs and got disconnected and the clocks were blinking twelve, the NAS (the fancy computer thingy with our TV shows and movies on it) would blink off so what ever we were watching would go away but the TV stayed lit. It was scary.
It was also getting late on a Saturday night, no one was around or going to be around anytime soon to call about it. We didn’t want the house to burn down around us as we slept or for the constant power outages to kill our ancient refrigerator or the computer stuff. We (my husband, that is, with me following him around) went looking for the problem.
First he figured out exactly which plugins and lights were effected. Then he found them in the fuse box, they were all down one side. He tightened all of what ever you tighten in a fuse box and we rechecked the house. It didn’t change anything. He got out his tester stuff and watched as each brown out pulled the power down to nearly nothing, but only on the one side.
We went outside and watched the pole the power lines come in from an didn’t see any sparks but were strongly leaning towards that as the problem. Apparently 240 volts comes into the house in the form of two 120 wires, one to each side of the fuse box. The wires are old with the insulation long since worn out and gone and a trees branches well grown through them, all of which were blowing violently in the wind. It was easy to see where trouble could arise. Unfortunately it was after ten on a very dark night, nothing was going to happen any time soon.
For the time being anything that could be shut off on that half of the fuse box was. Unfortunately that included the freezer and refrigerator but better off than broken. They would be ok over night. We slept well in a very dark room without clocks and quiet without the hum of electricity.
The next day after very important farm stuff got done he went to work on the wiring. His dad drove the payloader and lifted my daring husband up to check the, live, wires going into the house. As he perched precariously on the edge of the bucket he carefully tested the bare wires. From below his dad offered helpful advise and tried, enthusiastically, to get him to poke the wires with a screw driver.
One wire checked at the proper voltage, the other at nothing. Then they shut the power off for the fun part.
I stood below and watched helplessly as he stood his ladder up in the bucket of the payloader reached to its full extension against the power pole. With breath held I watched him balance on the wobbly ladder and scale the pole. With a quick wiggle of the wires he found the problem. Sure enough the connection was loose. It was pockmarked from the arcing as the aluminum wire sparked where it wiggled loose against copper. He climbed down the ladder back into the bucket and asked for wrenches then climbed back up. He wrapped one arm around the post to reach the bolt and tightened the connection then clambered down again. Done at last.
My daring husband had survived all of the hazards and we had unblinking electricity again. It hasn’t shut off since.