Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I get by with a little help from my friends

Grace blew a circuit the other day. The overhead fan quit for a second and the microwave beeped and then everything seemed ok. It wasn't until the middle of the night, when I got up to plug in the heater, that I found a dead outlet. I don't have an abundance of outlets and losing not just one, but two, was an inconvenience to say the least. So at 3 a.m. I was awake with the owner's manual and a flashlight and was able to figure out that the two were on the same circuit. I tested all the breakers and pulled the fuses and everything was all right. Now what? Go to the neighbors.

Within 10 minutes, tops, of asking one neighbor his opinion, everyone else up and down the volunteer line knew of my problem. I still don't know how it happened. Everyone pretty much suggested the things I'd already done. Now what?

I called Melvin, my all-around brilliant person. In the short time I've actually known him in person he's astounded me with the breadth and depth of his knowledge, to the point if I ask him something and he doesn't know the answer, I take it as a sign the apocalypse is upon us. The man knows ev-er-y-thing. He had me running in and out of Grace, plugging and unplugging, starting and stopping the generator, turning lights and fans on and off, turning the air conditioner on and off, running the engine, stopping the engine, and doing the hokey-pokey. He concluded several things, boiling it down to the inverter. The inverter changes 110 volts to 12 volts and vice versa, so if I'm plugged in, the AC power will charge the battery; likewise if I'm running the generator to charge the battery it will convert the battery power to 110. I had orders to call him if I got to a repair shop and they started getting shifty.

One of my great neighbors came over last night and crawled around on the floor with me, trying to find the thing. He must have spent an hour and we think we found it but it would have been behind a panel in a cabinet and I wasn't about to start tearing things out myself. I did try replacing the ground fault switch and that didn't solve the problem.

I juggled my work schedule so I could take Grace to a repair place in Show Low today. Melvin nailed it. It was the inverter and if I could have found it, which was under the bench/bed I sleep on, and could only be accessed by lifting the platform, I might have figured it out. Or my neighbor might have. Or Melvin would have for sure. All it needed was a little nudge of the switch from one position to another, and for this I paid $90 plus gas. Resetting the inverter also took care of the GFCI switch, so I can take its $16 replacement back to the store.

Now I know. And now I have a super duper deluxe whole-house surge protector on its way from Amazon. I ain't going through this again.

Within 15 minutes of my return from Show Low and talking to the first neighbor who spied me and came to ask, everyone knew, including park staff in a building down the road.  If only I could harness this speed to the Internet here. I'd have no complaints at all.