What a "shocking" Valentine's day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
I know I have my Facebook followers' attention after the short status update I posted earlier, so here's the longer version.

The plan Hubby and I had today was to go out to eat this evening, but early. We've sort of turned Tuesday night into our "date night," and since he's retired, we can go out earlier and miss the rush. Considering today is Valentine's Day, eating earlier seemed very prudent.

So I finally went and worked out today (later than I planned) and got back from the gym at about 3:30 or so. But what I'd been neglecting to do for the past couple of days was wash the gloves I use (those fingerless kind) and they smelled. So Hubby brought me the bottle of Woolite from the wash house (I'm getting there, I swear I am). I washed the gloves in the bathroom sink, everything's fine.

Right? Right.

I take the gloves and the bottle of Woolite outside. I didn't bother putting shoes on, because it happens to be fairly warm today. I was going to put the Woolite back in the wash house and hang the gloves on the clothesline to dry.

Let me describe the wash house. Actually, let me back up just a little so the rest of this makes sense. The house we're living in is my grandparents' house that I inherited last year. Because it's only five minutes from my parents, and my cousins live next door, we've basically moved up here and are still deciding what to do with our house.

This is a sixty year-old house that my grandfather built when my mom was a kid. It's an old Jim Walters home that my mom remembers when it was built (she was a little kid). Outside is the building we call the "wash house." Because the washer, dryer, and an old fridge/freezer is in there. It's always been called the wash house. It was my mom's playhouse when she was little, and it's nearly as old as the house. It's about 20'x15' or so big, wooden frame and floor, and sheet metal skin.

Sheet metal. That's key to the story.

The wash house gets its electricity (which is in dire need of updating) from a single electrical wire run from the house to the wash house, about ten feet off the ground. The wire is insulated where it enters the wash house. Nowhere inside the wash house can we see where any wire touches the wash house metal skin.

Still with me? Good.

So here I am this afternoon, barefooted me, holding the wet gloves and bottle of Woolite. I did what I've done countless times before in my life, I put one hand on the wash house metal side for balance while reaching up to take the padlock off the door...

Aaaaand got the crap shocked out of me.

Hmm.

Well, THAT'S different.

I looked high and low and saw NOWHERE the electrical lines were shorting out or touching the sheet metal. I thought okay, let's try this, and flipped the breaker leading to the wash house.

Still got the crap shocked out of me. I went and put shoes on, and it didn't do it.

Hmm. And normally, since I'm wearing shoes when I'm outside, it doesn't shock me. No telling how freaking long it's been doing this, because again, usually I'm not outside barefoot.

This is where I called my dad, after telling Hubby what it was doing. HE goes outside, while I'm standing there on the phone with my dad, and apparently because he didn't believe me, he tries it. Doesn't get shocked. I told him to take his shoes off.

Well, because he apparently wanted to see for himself, he got himself zapped in the process. (My dad, as I was narrating that little vignette over the phone, was laughing his ass off.)

So my dad said he'd be over shortly. (Haha, no pun intended.)

He gets there, he pulls the damn breaker for the wash house.

STILL getting zapped, plus he's getting a backfeed voltage reading from the ground wire in the breaker box, which shouldn't have ANY power to it at all.

HMMM. He got voltage readings off a water pipe going into the wash house.

After him getting on the phone to a friend of his, and me getting on the phone to Sir, the general consensus was that somehow, we were getting current running through the galvanized piping into the wash house. So okay, no problem, we start pulling breakers and fuses.

With ALL power disconnected, there's STILL voltage going through the wash house.

Oooookaaaayyy.

Well, by bending back old sheet metal so none was touching the water pipes where they went into the wash house, we de-electrified the wash house skin. Didn't take care of the problem, however. So we needed to see if the house next door, my cousin's house (there's actually two houses there, and the front one that was my aunt's and now belongs to my cousin is being rented to a friend of his while he lives with his mom in the back house), where a water pipe still connects the two houses (don't ask, another long story) is the culprit.

They weren't home. So we had to wait until they got home so we could flip the main breaker.

Voila, the water pipe is no longer electrified. My dad's friend suggested it could be a short in their water heater...great theory. Except they have a gas water heater.

(The reason the houses were connected was because my grandmother and her sister lived next door to each other. My grandfather and her husband, my uncle, worked for the water plant just down the road. A water line ran close to the properties, and they had a line tapped into it. Uncle Johnny's house was connected to the line, and Granny and Grandaddy's house was connected inline through their house via a pipe, which worked out great last summer when lightning knocked out our well one day and we needed to get water. Years later, after my grandfather and uncle had retired, the water plant told them they'd have to pay to stay connected, so they said hell no, had wells installed, and the supply pipe from the main pipe was cut. But the pipe connecting both houses was still there, and my grandfather had a well installed on his property and a second line, connecting the well directly to the house, was installed.)

Okay, you still with me now?

So long story short (too late) it was after seven when my dad was finally able to isolate it was some sort of short from the other house electrifying the water pipe connecting our house to that house. So now we have to dig out around the old pipe valve and figure out how it's still connected to the house and cut that pipe so it gets rid of the problem...for us.

My cousin, however, still has to figure out where his electrical problem lays.

And that's why we didn't get to go out to eat for dinner, because by the time we got out of the house, all the local restaurants were packed. So we decided to go home after a stop by the liquor store, and we ordered pizza.

Which, as I write this, we're still waiting to be delivered.

How's your Valentine's Day? LOL

10 reader comments:

  1. Wow -- what a totally electric way to spend your Valentine's (and I am way glad that it is a 'funny' story and not something more serious). Crazy good times for a book down the road, I'm sure!

  1. I'm sorry that messed up your plans. :( I'm glad you guys are okay, though.
    Lol I like how you said you guys stopped by the liquor store afterward. Sounds like a drink was needed. Hopefully the pizza will be hot and yummy for you.

  1. SusieJ said...:

    Well, that was a different Valentine's Day. Pleased it wasn't more serious..but material for a story perhaps?
    Liquor store and pizza sounds good to me. :)
    Hugs xx

  1. Vanessa said...:

    How Shocking! (I am so not good at jokes but I try!) Thanks for sharing... it is good to be able to smile and laugh about it the alternative is less than attractive.
    My husband was once again crossing the Nullabor on a special day so next week we are going away for 3 nights of R&R! I am looking forward to that.:-)

  1. Tammy said...:

    Sorry your Valentine's Day didnt go as planned but heck it was such a great story for us to hear. Thank you so much for sharing. *giggling*

  1. @Heather - LOL Yes, that will definitely end up in a book at some point. :)

    @Zoey - Yeah, I made myself a weak drink when we got home. Pizza definitely hit the spot.

    @SusieJ - LOL oh, absolutely! :)

    @Vanessa - Have a blast when your hubby returns. :)

    @Tammy - Yeah, I knew people would get a kick out of my misfortune. LOL

  1. Ursula said...:

    I LOL'd reading that whole story. I am sorry you got zapped, glad you got it fixed, sorry you missed dinner, glad you wrote a funny story for us :) Hey pizza sounds great to me :)

  1. Darn, I'm so disappointed. I was hoping there was a violet wand in the story somewhere. But I'm glad you weren't electrocuted! Don't you love those "Let me see" moments with hubbies, though? If only they would trust us.

    Kally

  1. Pogonip said...:

    So glad you all survived! Household current (110-120 V) isn't usually lethal, but it can be. I once got "stuck" on it, it contracts your muscles and if your hand is around the source, you become attached to it, and it was not pleasant. Alternating current makes the muscles contract, then relax, repeatedly until the electricity is disconnected from you. What's a very important muscle? Your heart.

  1. @Ursula - LOL Yeah, that's me, turning my own misery into entertainment. LOL

    @Kallypso - Yeah, wasn't my favorite kind of electrical play, that's for sure. LOL

    @Pogonip - Fortunately, there were no amps behind this, it was just low voltage. Enough to get my attention. LOL