Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cold Sweat Dep't.

I need to share with you the upshot of the situation I described, somewhat lightheartedly, on January 5th -- the blowing of fuses during the concert? And subsequent restoration of power? (pause to mop brow at the thought).

Well. While all this was going on, the catering friends of the musicians were getting the reception ready in the Upper Hall (socializing area) in the south wing, which abuts the little kitchen. They were boiling kettles for tea and so forth -- but in the excitement, nobody noticed at the time that the electric range had abruptly stopped working.

When this was noticed, some days later, we assumed that it was an internal fuse problem, until we realized that no PART of the range was working. At all. Soooo. As is our wont, we notified the Man Who Understands Fixing Things. And he (who had been summoned to get power back into the church during the concert) looked Extremely Thoughtful, and went away with his flashlight to trace the dedicated circuit that powers the range.

What he found...was a place where the heavy-duty wire in this circuit passed from rigid conduit into flex conduit (negotiating a bend around one of the beams under the floor). When it was installed, by a qualified tradesman mind you, no one bothered to instal the proper connector between the flex and the rigid conduit, they just jammed in the end of the flex and left it to hold together by friction or surface tension or God's infinite patience or something.

When you cut that flexible conduit, however, you get sharp edges. And over the last 20 years, with the warming and the cooling and the expanding and the contracting, the sharp edges had worked on the insulation (are you sick to your stomach yet?)...until, on the night of the concert, that circuit shorted, MELTED the wires, MELTED the one connector that was in position, and blew the big 100 amp. circuit breaker that ALSO cut off power to the church proper. They did notice that every time they turned that breaker back on it blew again...until, as we now know, the "shorted" place finally burned out altogether, the wires burned apart completely.

Surrounded as they were by pink fibreglass insulation, paper backed, with loose wood shavings lying all about where they had dropped when the hole for wire was drilled through the floor above.

And yet we're still here. Not a pile of ashes. Thanks be to God. Without ceasing.

Soooo. We're doing a big mapping of where all the doggone wires come and go in this 95 year old building...and what kind of wires they are...and what state the insulation is in...

14 comments:

RevDrKate said...

Oh. My. God is good.

Crimson Rambler said...

Isn't he. Every time I look at that chunk of wire I want to go toss my lunch.

mompriest said...

O...my goodness...oh, my...wow.

I can only imagine how you feel and the what might have been...

From The Podium said...

Um ... yikes!

Jim said...

Wow. It is definitely time for a survey of the building systems. There is nothing like a century or so of enthusiasm to set you right up like this.

I don't even dare think the phrase "knob and tube."

Our electricals are not too bad (as far as we know). The plumbing on the other hand is pretty . . . sketchy.

Rev. Dulce said...

As the pastor of another old, old church, I feel your pain. I couldn't even begin to imagine having to map our electric circuits.

Chorus said...

God Bless the Man Who Fixes Everything!

Towanda said...

Holy Cow.

Caminante said...

That is the stuff of nightmares. Ay!

Episcopollyanna said...

SCARY! That sounds so much like the situation at my husband's 88-year-old grandmother's house before we (thank God) caught it just in time. I still get shivers when I think of it. So glad everything is okay.

SpookyRach said...

definitely yikes.

(Re Blog Comment: The In-Laws, right? Great movie, that one.)

((But only the original. Not the remake.))

Crimson Rambler said...

spooky -- "The In-Laws" it is! bingo! that one line became part of the family language instantly. (haven't seen the remake, didn't see the need)

Psalmist said...

What a fright! But I'm very, VERY glad for you that it's getting addressed.

Alex said...

Oh no! We once served a 150+ year old church building. Scary stuff.