Power Outage

It’s been kind of crazy 48 hours or so. Not like end of the world crazy but the twisty part of the roller coaster crazy.  Sunday I spent the morning getting shelf supports for the adjustable shelves in my studio, and installing them. I was very excited to get the shelves all set so I could start loading them up with books and other items that have been in boxes for some time. I went with 1/4″ spoon-shaped supports. All the variations of 5mm I had bought were too loose in the adjustable holes.

The two types of shelf supports I bought at Home Depot. I ended up using the 1/4" spoon shaped supports

The two types of shelf supports I bought at Home Depot. I ended up using the 1/4″ spoon shaped supports

Once that was complete I went back to painting shelves and cabinets for / in the kitchen. The coffee cabinet doesn’t look good in black so I had a good alternative idea. Build two doors for to cover the entire set of cabinets, and finish them in the same walnut laminate. Then it will look like we just pushed that cabinet back, punctuating the existing orange cabinet “core” imagery.  It’ll be nice, I’ll show you when it’s done.

The afternoon found the wife, boys and I back on the road attempting to make a final call on the new plates. We packed up all our new Pottery Barn plates and drove up to the east side. We ended up stopping at Pier 1, William Sonoma and back to Pottery Barn. We compared our Gabriella pattern that we had already bought to the only other PB pattern we liked, Cambria. Well despite our uncertainty at home, the original set we bought felt the most “right”, despite the really deep dishes. The Cambria was even wider, and though it was shallower, we didn’t like it as much.

Our new dish on the left, the, shallower and wider, runner up on right at Pottery Barn.

Our new dish on the left, the, shallower and wider, runner-up on right at Pottery Barn.

Wife: “See, here in the store the [Gabriella] plate doesn’t seem too deep. I like it better than the other one and I think we’ll get used to it. We should just stick with that. What do you think?”

Me: “I agree. And it’s different from what we’ve had in the past. We’ll just have to adjust our lifestyle. Start waxing [body parts] and eating mussels over vermicelli more often.”

So with that the plate decision is over. We picked up a salt & pepper set as well as a creamer and sugar vessel to match. All ready for holiday dinner parties, and Sunday night Mr. Chicken take out.

Back home I made decent progress moving into my “new” studio.  I unpacked a few books and found spots for magazines, painting supplies and “stuff to be sorted later”. As a line of storms passed outside I curled up on the couch to watch TV. Since getting hooked last week, I’m two episodes into “The Good Wife” on CBS; discovered when the television was left on for five minutes too long after “The Amazing Race”. This along with my wild desire to trade my car in for a minivan have me worried about my ability to make sound decisions. Mid-life crises are not to be taken lightly and manifest themselves in all sorts of ways. Mine is going on year four I think, with no end in sight.

I retired dead tired at eleven. Only to be awoken by various things beeping and flashing on and off. I lay in bed, sleepy-eyed, not sure I understood what was happening. Then I figured it out.

The power was out.

And there was a weird alarm or buzz going sounding from somewhere.

“What the hell is that sound?”

Well turns out it was coming from the sump pump. More specifically the battery back up for the sump pump. The little “low battery power” light was on. Luckily the instructions were still under the unit, where they sat since installation almost two years ago. So by LED flashlight I read and re-read the instructions. As best I can tell the batteries were shot and with no AC power the buzzer went off.

The wife and I weighed our options. If the sump pump wasn’t able to work then it was only a matter of time until the basement started flooding. And with that ruining a few decades of crap that we have stored in our basement. “Hmmmm.”  After some time I finally woke up a little more and figured, well my only choice is to get the pump running again and doing its job. Moving all that crap was not an option. And there was no way to tell when the power would come back on. By the way I have given some serious thought to getting a whole house backup generator so I don’t have to deal with this crap. Invariably these emergencies always happen on Sunday night. Oh, and another thing, it’s my fault I didn’t check the battery, but 1) why doesn’t the thing chirp or something to tell me the batteries are low before the power goes out, and 2) why does the alarm have to sound the entire time the power is out?  Once again, decent product poorly designed because human factors are not taken into consideration. Frankly someday I’d like to have a master “dashboard” for the house so I can check ALL the systems at a glance and not have to remember if I checked this or that. Systems need to be designed, built and distributed for lazy guys like me. Fortunately for me (yes, patting the wife and I on the back) we were willing to take a stab at fixing the problem; after all it was Sunday night and there isn’t anyone to call when your sump pump goes down as far as I know.

Ok, I’m going to Walmart” I announced. The instructions and the current batteries gave me enough info to figure I could basically buy two marine batteries and replace the old ones with them.  The wife held down the fort as I departed the driveway at 12:07am, destination our 24-hr Walmart. Note, the lights were on everywhere but our handful of houses on Riverview.  Fate, god and all their friends hate me, I’m certain of it.

I’m always leery of what I’ll see at Walmart after midnight on a Sunday night [actually Monday morning]. It was dead save but a few people doing their weekly shopping at this time…so weird. I tried not to make eye contact. I didn’t have much luck until I saw the last section of batteries: “Ahhh…marine batteries“. I grabbed two 12V batteries whose markings seemed to approximate what I had left behind at home. Most importantly they had smaller threaded terminals which were critical for jumping the batteries together and connecting them to the power supply. I loaded my cart, paid for them and headed back home.

Buying marine batteries at 12:30am at Walmart. I passed on buying the santa sweater.

Buying marine batteries at 12:30am at Walmart. I passed on buying the santa sweater.

The Rabbit at Walmart at 12:30am on a Monday morning. There aren't many people shopping at WM this late on a "Sunday night" but I'm fairly suspicious of all of them.

The Rabbit at Walmart at 12:30am on a Monday morning. There aren’t many people shopping at WM this late on a “Sunday night” but I’m fairly suspicious of all of them.

Back home I grabbed a handful of wrenches and headed downstairs with the wife in tow. The instructions said to have a helper in case the batteries blow up and spray hydrochloric acid all over my face, hands and body. She was my assigned helper. Plus I guess the battery charging process produces toxic gas which can cause you to pass out and die. Once again, good to have a helper. I’m glad this set up is in my basement within cat licking distance.

I gingerly unhooked wires by flashlight, trying not to touch anything but the fasteners with my wrench. I even put on a small rubber glove, not really knowing if that would keep me from getting electrocuted to death. Thank god, disconnecting the wires made the high-pitched buzzing alarm stop. I removed the fuse and unplugged everything as well, not necessarily in that order by the way; refer to your instructions if you’re trying this at home. I then removed the old batteries, and delicately wiped up some “goo” in the bottom of the battery container.

Reversing the order of operation I put the two new batteries in the container, jumped them together then hooked up the positive and negative leads to the power supply.

“Crap!”

The freaking alarm started sounding again. Low battery light is on again. It’s 1:30am on a school night.

“What the f*ck?! These are new batteries.”

We looked at each other. I didn’t understand, does this mean the old batteries were fine? The new batteries weren’t fully charged? The low battery alarm goes off when battery power is below ~23V total.  I wanted to cry, scream and burn the house down all in the course of 30 seconds of thought. I went through everything in my mind. Then I had a thought but very little confidence in it.

I reinserted the fuse into the power supply.  Voila! The alarm stopped.

The old batteries. Positive and negative terminals, and one white jumper wire going from + to - in the foreground.

The old batteries. Positive and negative terminals, and one white jumper wire going from + to – in the foreground.

Here's the power supply for the sump pump, ready to be reconnected.

Here’s the power supply for the sump pump, ready to be reconnected.

By time I got back to bed I think it was 2am.  The power came back on at 2:30am.  Of course.  Oh well now we have new sump pump batteries. I should start checking them in the future. Oh the joys of home ownership when you’re a lazy homeowner like me.

Alright I’m going to bed. Business picked up a little this week so I’ll be busy again.

But for now I’m tired.  Stay tuned for more fun later this week.

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2 thoughts on “Power Outage

  1. Pingback: Black Friday Now Second Fiddle, And That’s Good | CW Design Viewpoint

  2. Pingback: A Cursory Glance At Solar Electric For Green Living | nine apple trees

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