Crazy Harry Plays with Electricity…again

Two days ago, Adam calls me to tell me a circuit breaker keeps tripping. So, figuring it’s bad,  I got a replacement on the way home. But when I got home, I decided to unplug everything on that circuit. Yet the circuit breaker keeps tripping, so I figure it’s definitely bad. But before I ripped into the circuit breaker box, I decided to check the circuit for shorts, you know, the kind of thing the circuit breaker is designed to protect you from. We found a short.

I decided to get Adam involved and teach him more about electricity and house wiring while I was at it. My neighbor advised that we might have a bad outlet, so we set about disconnecting each outlet in the circuit to find the culprit. The first one yielded no luck, but Adam had the brilliant idea that before we disconnected the rest, we should at least check first. This turned out to be a good idea, because by disabling(and ruling out) the first outlet, we had the means of testing the rest of the circuit from the lines we disconnected to the first outlet. Sure enough, using this logic, we nailed the outlet that was the culprit. When we took it out, I saw at once what had happened.

About a year ago, when we were repainting the family room downstairs, I had Adam do the outlets to teach him how to handle things like this. Apparently, I didn’t do a very good job supervising him, because what we saw tonight was this: when we stuffed the outlet back into the box last year, the bare ground wire was on the same side of the box as the hot wire. Two days ago, the ground wire contacted a screw on the hot side and shorted the circuit. You could see the scorch marks on the bare wire and the screw. Fortunately for us, the circuit breaker was doing its job after all! I learned my lesson(s), and it only cost me about $3.97 for the unnecessary circuit breaker, as opposed to, well, you can imagine.

So I’ll leave you with this. Remember what Crazy Harry says near the end of the original Muppet Movie?