Saturday, October 02, 2010

Lights out!

Early Thursday morning, the lovely Carol and I drove to the Sequoia "Y" -- taking two cars (boo!) because we had different places to go afterwards. When we arrived, she told me that only my right headlight had been on. "Bad bulb," I thought.

Also this past week, the hall light failed to come on in the morning. Then in the evening, it worked fine. Then it turned off all by itself. "Bad switch," I thought.

So those were on my to-do list for today: find or buy a new switch for the hall light, and visit Kragen or Kohlweiss for a new headlight.

I started with the car: opened the door, turned on the headlights, and popped the hood. Whoa: the bulb wasn't out -- well, it was, sort of. What I mean is: the bulb was lit, and burning brightly. It just wasn't where it was supposed to be! It was illuminating the engine compartment, rather than the outdoors. Hurmpf. Positioned the fixture, and gave the retaining ring a firm twist. Voilà -- the second easiest lighting fix I've ever made!

I should have taken the hint and re-thought my assumption about the hall light, but I wasn't thinking too swiftly. After verifying that the light still wouldn't turn on, I unscrewed the wall-plate and the switch. Undoing the "eye" on the red wire (a formerly white wire from 12-2 Romex, embarrassed by a beet-colored magic marker), I decided on a quick check and touched the black wire to the red. No light!

"Wha...?" I thought, and walked out to the garage for my handy-dandy sniffer. This is a really cool gadget that beeps when it's near an energized wire. Yes, the black wire was "hot". When I reconnected the "red" wire and flipped the switch, the red wire also became hot. I removed the glass from the light fixture and checked the wires leading to the light-bulb sockets. No beep. Curiouser and curiouser! Did I goof up the power connection?

I removed the entire fixture from the ceiling, and found that power was indeed reaching it. Re-checking the sockets, I found that they were indeed energized. Odd that two light bulbs would fail at the same time....

Did you guess it? I didn't have the bulbs in all the way! These are not standard screw-in CFLs; they have bayonet-like mounts, which are apparently too high-tech for me -- at least they were the first time! I pushed a little harder and gave each one a twist, and obediently each bulb lit up. Perfect.

I felt a little sheepish, but it was better than having to go to the store.

And the drip in the washing machine!

Last weekend, I heard an odd sound from the clothes washer. It was off, but there was still a sound -- like a very slow clock ticking. Puzzled, I opened the lid and waited. Sure enough, there was a drip. ... and maybe five seconds later, another.

"Bother!" I thought. I tried draining the water (ran the washer for the last minute of the "spin" cycle); it sprayed some while spinning, and after it was done, there was still the drip. I turned off the water-supply valves and left a note for the lovely Carol.

She washed a couple of loads during the week, and I figured I'd have to look up the model number and the part number for replacement valves (iirc the mixing valve is a single unit). But yesterday or the day before, I listened to the washer, which was... silent. Water supply valves? Open.

I guess the piece of sand -- or whatever was lodged in the valve and caused the drip -- got washed away.

Three electromechanical problems that could have been three headaches became were two easy fixes and a non-problem. Praise God for little blessings!

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