Chapter 6 – Who Turned Out the Lights?

OK…it’s November. It’s chilly. And I’m not turning on the propane furnace. I don’t know how to turn on the propane furnace. I have little space heaters. One is really cute…It looks like a little coal-burning stove. Love it. But this morning…definitely chilly and damp. So…on when the space heaters. Sadly, neither one of the space heaters seemed to be effective. The really cute one is in the three-season room. Logically, bringing the cute space heater into the great room and closing the sliding door and all the interior doors should help cozy up the great room/kitchen area. Logic didn’t work well here. Well, logic would have worked if I understood TNN’s electrical system which I do not. Suddenly there were no lights, no refrigerator, and worst of all…no heat. Obviously I blew a breaker. So I tried everything I knew about breakers that work in my house. I unplugged everything. Flipped the master breaker on and off. Flipped the effected breaker. Should have worked. Nothing. Bupkis. What to do? Call an electrician? Could be expensive. Ask a neighbor? No one is up here except me.

Fortunately, the winterization guy came…The winterization guy works for the association. He gets  $50 for about 15 minutes of work and a couple of gallons of anti-freeze. The winterization guy knows a lot of stuff besides how to winterize park models. He understands the electrical system, and how to make the breaker switches work properly. So I asked him.

Of course, I got the look. I hate the look. The look says, “Are you out of your mind tackling a man’s job you crazy short little woman?” Then I got the lecture about breaker switches and how they function. I know how breaker switches work. I know that when they overheat they shut down. I know you have to unplug everything, then play around with the master switch and then play with the specific breaker. I know all that stuff. I just don’t know the trick to get these breaker switches to respond…So just show me what the magic combination is that will get the heat back on, and winterize Tír na nÓg.  OK?  He did – finally. (Internal grumbling about male chauvinism…I am woman. Hear me roar!)

We were both happy. He felt smug, and I had heat. We were happy until I started asking questions about the winterization process. He didn’t like short retired women asking questions. Too bad. I ask a lot of questions – especially about systems. I learned that winterization starts with a compressor. A compressor costs about $100. You need a compressor to blow out all the water from the pipes. Blowing out the water is important during the winter. When water freezes inside pipes – and water does freeze – pipes break which is really, really bad. Then gallons and gallons of anti-freeze are pumped through the pipes and down the drains to insure that whatever might get down there, or in there, or whatever will not freeze. A lot of people do this on their own and save the $50. Someday I might feel comfortable about it. Buy the compressor and anti-freeze and do it myself…But here’s the thing that seals the deal for me. If the association screws up and all of TNN’s pipes break – the association pays for the damage and has to fix the mess. If I screw it up, even my insurance company won’t cover it.   So $50 a year is part of the budget – period.

The most satisfying part of my question session with the winterization guy was his lack of information about anti-freeze. He didn’t know that anti-freeze was poisonous. I did. (hee-hee-hee) Thumbs up for the crazy short little retired woman. (I am woman. Hear me roar!)  I told him to wash his hands when he was through messing around with it.

By the way, the lights are back on, I have heat, and things are good. And I know the secret breaker switch combination. (hee..hee..hee!).




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