Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Ghost Of George

Off The Rails

I'm no electrician. I'm no plumber. Not a tile-man; a carpenter; a drywall guy. However, when the folly of man faced the power of Katriana, I put on several hats to get my house in order.

This morning, George came fumbling through my electrical system.

George is the name of the former owner of my house. He was responsible for many of the weird things we had to rework/rerun/rewire/repair over the pre-Katrina years. If my wife heard me yelling "George! What the hell is this?" she knew I'd discovered another of his shortcuts.

10 years ago, the lights went out in the bathroom. It wasn't a fuse. It was a broken wall socket. George had left me with a bad plug that looked oddly repaired when I pulled it out of the wall. I replaced it and all was well.

This morning the lights went out in the bathroom. 10 years after the fact, and 4 years after Katrina, the repaired wall socket was the last thing on my list to check. Circuit breaker? Nope. Wall switch? Nope. Safety socket in bathroom? Nope. Light fixture in closet? Nope. Outside socket? Nope. Wiring in attic? Nope. After an hour and a half of removing, testing, and re-installing each of these items, I decided to use a circuit tracer to follow the live lines in the walls. Where did it lead me? Yep. That same old wall outlet I repaired 10 years ago. Back then it was easy to reach. Now it's behind a bookshelf. But there it was when I pulled it out the wall. Sparks and ozone.

Granted, George didn't do this one. I did it. I installed the socket incorrectly and it took 10 years to fail. But George's ghost still haunts this home. Somehow, I know he was whispering in my ear when I installed that outlet 10-years ago "Bill. You don't need to tighten that coupler. Just stick the wire in there and forget it."

Curse your spirt, George.

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