Last night, I went to get a couple of rolls of toilet paper for my bathroom. It was all chewed up. There were pieces of it all over the closet. Which meant…
We’ve been pretty much mouse-free for the past few years having had almost every possible entry point sealed off, but this crazy weather has the mice going a bit whacky too. It’s warm, then the temperature drops down and they head for the nearest warm space which is, very locally speaking, us. I called the rodent killers. I’m not in favor of killing animals, but I’m pretty sure we aren’t going to run out of mice if we take out a couple of dozen of them. Date set for next Tuesday.
I opened the computer and started to answer comments. Which is when Garry came out of the bathroom and said: “We don’t have any water.”
“What do you mean? We had water just a minute ago.” He was right. There was no water.
The first thing I thought of was electricity. The second thing I thought of was “OMG we’ve lost another well pump.” We have a very deep well and it has a pump about 455 feet down in it. It’s an unusually deep well. The pump is just 5-years old and should not be dying so soon, but equipment — even relatively new equipment — can fail.
The last time we lost a well pump it got hit by lightning. Lightning? Yes, really and it’s actually fairly common because the combination of electricity, iron, and water attracts lightning. As far as I know, you can’t put a lightning rod on a well.
Also, we are out of money. A well pump costs at least a couple of thousand dollar and might be more what with all this crazy inflation.
We — Garry and I — went downstairs to see if there was a blown circuit breaker. I couldn’t find one So I tried an electrical “reboot” by throwing the main breaker. The next hour we spent trying to get the main breaker back on. It has a killer spring in it. Apparently this is normal for 200 amp service, but Garry and I are not exactly “buff” any more. After a lot of shouting, cursing, tugging, trying with all our energy to get that breaker back on, Garry found Owen’s tools and brought me a big wrench. With some adjusting, I finally got the main breaker turned on. There was still no water.
Somewhere in between, I called the well people. We’ve been their customers as long as we have lived here. The family does all the watery things — septic pumping, well repair, water fracking, well drilling. Everything else connected with keeping water flowing from the aquifer to your faucets.
Steve showed up. He quickly realized there was no power going to the indoor water tank. For those of you who don’t have wells, the big pump in the well pumps water to the house and it waits for us to use it in a tank in the basement. But why was there no power? It was obvious that the breaking point was the water tank in the house, which was a relief because it meant the well pump was working. The circuits seemed to be fine, so where was the problem?
It turned out there was a second electrical box separate from the main circuit breaker box. A second layer to transmit power to the indoor tank where our well water waits for us. I didn’t know we had that box because it was a fuse box and this house was built in 1974 — by which time the standard was circuit breakers. The guy who built this house — and all the other raised ranches on this road — was a builder who didn’t know nothin’ about nothin’. He decided, for no special reason. the house needed a secondary fuse box to function as a kind of on/off switch for the tank. It used two 15-amp fuses.
What’s a fuse?
So on the wall near the tank was a small steel box holding two 15-amp fuses original to the building of the house. They had to be close to 50-years old. One of them died this morning. Why?
How about old age? I haven’t seen a fuse since I was a kid except in really old cars.
The thing that’s weird about these fuses is that they were obsolete when they were installed in 1974 and now we had to wonder if anyone sells them. Maybe Koopman’s has some deep in storage, but we weren’t counting on it. Since replacing the fuses was unrealistic, not to mention pointless, Steve did some quick rewiring.
Now on the cover of that small steel box it say In BIG letters: “This box is not working. DISCONNECTED.” There was no reason to have that little fuse box in the first place. Forty-eight years later, it makes absolutely no sense except as a weird antique version of an on/off tank switch. Owen didn’t remember we had it and I never knew it was there.
I don’t know how much the rodent removal will cost and lord only knows what it will cost for a new tank, but a 20-gallon tank for a 2400-square foot house is ridiculously small. Getting a bigger tank will also lower our electric bill. Every time that small tank empties and triggers the well pump, our electric meter starts to ring with joy as our money travels to National Grid’s coffers.
Fuses. We blew a fuse so old it can’t be replaced.
Go figure, right?
Now, if only getting rid of the mice is equally easy.