THE DAY THE WATER STOPPED RUNNING

Name this antique!

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…

Mice.

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?

Two 15-Amp fuses so old no one sells them anymore

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.



Categories: #animals, Anecdote, House and home, Humor, Technology, Water

Tags: , , , , , ,

30 replies

  1. Ag I empathise!
    And oh dear about the mice, I hope you can get rid of them fast!
    Glad the well repair guy was able to sort you out and rewire things. Xx

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  2. What is it with the karma? WE have mice too. We’ve been trying to trap them with the human traps, but I’m convinced when we set them free, they make it back to the house before we do.

    I do remember once when we lived in an elderly Victorian in Illinois, all the power to the family room and third-floor bath disappeared. We couldn’t find anything wrong with any of the circuit breakers. I happened to mention it to my son, who casually informed me that there was a fuse box hidden under the wallpaper on the top floor. I have zero idea how he knew that, but he was correct. Whyyyyyyy?

    May your water run and your mice not so much.

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    • I was waiting for you to tell me the mice ate the wires. They do like to chew on wires. Bad for the mice, but I can cope. Much worse for the wiring — with which I mostly can’t cope. I had NO idea that box existed. Now, it exists, but it is disconnected. Disfunctional. Disabled.

      Good thing the well guy knew it was there. Owen said he’d forgotten and I never knew about it.

      I can understand it in an old Victorian, but this house was built in 1974, so these fuses were out of date when the house was built. This maybe explains why if you turn on the microwave in the kitchen, my hair dryer explodes in the tiny water closet off our bedroom.

      Did you find new fuses? I have a friend in Arizona who offered me a whole drawerful of them which for reasons only he understands, he has saved, probably just in case someone like you or me discovers a need for ancient fuses.

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    • Second note: I am merciless to mice. I believe in the saving of all life, but not mice. Not only do they get back to the house before you, but they probably stop to breed another litter on the way — and STILL get there before you.

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  3. I knew those fuses with your first pic. My sons and I lived in a 60 year old farmhouse for a while. It was a small knit rural community in which a local electrician put in a new breaker box for me when I decided to have a garage door opener installed to the unattached pole barn (I didn’t miss lifting a garage door ~I felt a bit uppity, lol). About the mice; I can relate. After that old house I lived in a century farmhouse which the mice loved as much as me (my youngest son decided to draw a pic of a small mouse hanging by a noose to warn all the mice~”This could be you!” It didn’t matter that mice couldn’t read, he thought they’d understand the pic. Four years of RV living and I caught my fair share of mice. I don’t like killing them, but they ate through wires. I wish you the best on every situation!

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    • If they didn’t make such a godawful mess, I wouldn’t mind sharing space. The thing is, they DO make a godawful mess and they sure as hell love to eat wiring — almost as much as squirrels who are the world’s foremost wire chewers.

      They chew everything. EVERYTHING. Toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, underwear, socks, dish towels – pretty much anything even remotely edible and many things that are inedible. For something that small, they must have one sturdy digestive tract. We will expunge them as we have before — and they will come back as they have before. It’s just a matter of time. We live in the country, in a woods making us the mouse version of the Hyatt-Regency.

      I like the idea of your son’s drawing. I might have to steal the concept.

      Mice will come, mice will go. It is the nature of life in the country. I wish it didn’t cost so much to get rid of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wish my digestive track was as sturdy! In 2009, while living with FIELD mice that I had to kill with horrific measures, I was very ill with H1N1. I was so sick I could barely move. They would come out of hiding and just stare at me~with sympathy and hunger since I couldn’t even eat! Lol

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  4. Activate the auto-pilot and all will be good. 🙂

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  5. For me a ravaged toilet means my 16 year old has taken a dump. I would welcome mice as they are more predictable and potentially less messy.

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  6. I remember fuses, but I can remember the last time I saw an actual fuse box. And when we had a cat, he was quite adept at catching any mice that made it near our home, presenting us with the fruits of his hunting prowess.

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    • We had a Norwich Terrier — previously a show dog. We adopted her after she was done getting her championships (she was 4) and making puppies. Garry adored her . I mean REALLY adored her like no other dog or cat we’ve ever had.

      She loved to kill. Norwich were bred to kill rats and mice and she LOVED it. When we first moved here, I had an office downstairs (I could still manage the stairs back then). Divot (her breeder was a serious golfer) used to kill mice and stack them up next to my feet as I worked. The theory is that our cats and dogs think we need more meat in our diet, so they go out and kill for us. She also, when the opportunity arose, love hunting frogs. But she ate the frogs. Whole. Alive and wriggling. She would have killed more birds but they kept flying away.

      We’ve had a lot of terriers and hounds and all of them did some hunting — but Divot was a true serial killer. And such a beautiful girl.

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      • First I’ve hear of a “Serial Killer” being referred to as “beautiful”.., but “the times, they are a changin’

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      • Our new dog has discovered that we have a lot of lizards in our backyard, and although she hasn’t yet caught one, I think it’s only a matter of time. We haven’t gotten the results of her DNA test yet, but based upon pictures I’ve seen, I think she’s a Boxodor, a mix between a boxer and a Lab. The boxer part may even be dominant.

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        • Well, why not lizards? Lacking lily ponds, lizards also probably taste like chicken. But you know, Divot never ATE mice. She just killed them and piled them next to my feet. But frogs? We had to extract her from the swamps because she’d keep eating frogs and never stop. I couldn’t understand how such a small dog — she only weighed 13 pounds — could eat that many frogs. Maybe she was slightly French?

          Duke is the first non-purebred dog we’ve had in 31 years together. All our dogs were adopted or I guess the better word would be “re-homed,” but once you own one purebred, you meet others breeders and the good ones often want to rehome their girls after they’ve had one or two litters — unless they are also pets (some are, some aren’t). And then there are some show dogs who just don’t like being shown (we had two of them — they just didn’t like being around so many people). Great show dogs love being shown. Divot was a fantastic show dog. She loved the ring. She loved applause. If she’d been more fertile, we’d never have had a chance to own her. She was as close to perfect as a Norwich can be, but she only had one litter and after that, nothing.

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          • We’ve never had a purebred. All mutts.

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            • I grew up with Dobermans, but after they passed, we had mutts of all types from small to huge. Adopting purebreds costs the same as adopting a mutt and a dog that needs a new home? We’re good with dogs which is to say we spoil them rotten.

              Some our purebreds had indeed been mistreated. Not brutalized, but never part of a home. We got Gibbs when he was 9. He had lived his entire life in a cage and except for being let out to make puppies. No one petted or played with him. The first time we let him out into the yard he ran continuously for an entire day.

              He had never had the chance to RUN. Then he discovered the rock in the middle of the yard and warm sunshine, so he would run like a mad thing, then lay down on the warm rock and not move until dinner was called. He only lived three more years, but they were his best years. Bishop also grew up in a pen — 10 X 12. He was an Australian Shepherd and he never got to run either. He had never lived in a house or been part of a family. Never been petted, never played with anyone. He had an infected eye that was never treated, so he lost the eye. It was too late to save it.

              Purebred doesn’t mean treated well. People buy them in pet stores (which should be illegal) and have no idea what to do with them. Or the dogs grow up and aren’t so cute and they get discarded. If Duke were friendlier to other dogs, we’d get another one, but he is so possessive, it’s probably wiser to let him be our one and only. Considering the price of all things doggy right now, maybe having just one is just as well.

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  7. I hope that you can get rid of the mice

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    • We have before. But when you live in the country, they will eventually find a way in and then you have to get rid of them again. I doubt there’s any house in this part of the country that hasn’t had mice. They get cold and look for a warm cozy place to live. The nearest house is usually just fine with them. They don’t need much else in the way of furnishings 🐭 !

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  8. When I bought my “new” house on the Cape three or four years ago, I had a drawer full of fuses, just in case… They were newer than that (modern fuses), but still the round screw in type. The very first thing I did was have someone take out the ancient fuse box and put in a circuit breaker box. Sorry about the odd issue with your old fuse box – yep, the best way is to just bypass it and direct connect. Hope that simple wiring was pretty inexpensive.

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    • It was free, actually. He said: “This one’s on the house!” It was a friendly visit. It was time to catch up with who died, who’s still hanging in there, what’s for sale. This is such a thinly populated area, most of us know everyone on the road. Not necessarily well, but we recognize them by face, location of house and often by the kind of vehicle they drive (‘You know, the guy with the red pickup?”)

      Anyway, we now have a direct connection to the breakers. I’m not sure why we had two of them — but there is a lot of weird wiring in this house.

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