Circuit 9

We’d been having this problem with an electrical circuit in the house. It’s been really weird. Dawn noticed it at first, watching Midsomer Murders on the Biography Channel while knitting. The power to the TV and satellite receiver would just momentarily go off and then back on. It’d be especially annoying because then the receiver would have to take a minute to reacquire the satellite signal. As a couple of weeks went by it started to happen more frequently, and then the power started staying out for more than just an instant.

We tried cycling the circuit breaker off and on, but that didn’t help. There are only two outlets on that particular circuit, so I bought replacements. I replaced the first outlet, the one nearer to the breaker box. The outlet further downstream turned out to be like two outlets covered by a double plate. I didn’t feel like replacing just one of the outlets or going out to buy another one, and frankly I didn’t think that it was the further downstream outlet(s) causing the problem anyway.

But replacing the one outlet didn’t help, either. So the one last thing I wanted to do before calling in a competent electrician was to check the circuit breakers themselves, since this problem only started since we had had some work done, when the guys added the two new circuits. And but actually, when they did that, I had seen how the circuit breakers plugged into the main panel, is really the only reason that I even thought to check this.

To get to the breakers I had to remove the front panel. It was attached by three screws (although there should have been four, but one was missing). After taking out two of the three screws the front panel shifted partially sideways, hanging from the one remaining screw. And it must have touched something otherwise inside, because the main circuit breakers tripped and the whole house went out.

Okay. Probably should have shut off that main circuit before taking the panel cover off.

Anyway, I pulled out the breaker for the circuit, but nothing seemed amiss. But it was a smaller breaker, one that plugged in together with the circuit breaker right above it, both going on the same main panel connector. And both of these were directly below the new circuits the guys installed. And the little pin on that companion circuit breaker looked bent somewhat to the right. So I bent that back straight, plugged both circuits back in, and now the problem seems to be solved. I think the way that the one pin was bent on the one circuit breaker was pushing the pin on the other circuit breaker just enough to sometimes break the connection, maybe as the weather the getting colder and these metal connections were contracting ever so slightly.

And I found the fourth screw that the guys seemed to have forgotten, so now the cover is back on a little more stable.

All in all, I’m very pleased that it’s working correctly again, but also that I didn’t kill myself.

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