The Hunt for the Red-Hot Neutral

Ok, yeah I didn’t post last night. Sheesh. Apparently all you have to do to get people interested is end with a cliffhanger…

When last we saw our heroine she was making her way through her now-darkened, smoked-filled family room. Obviously I needed to call an electrician (this should not actually be considered “obvious”; more on that later) but my first thought was “How can I find an electrician without the interweb?”. Fortunately I had a phone book holding open a door somewhere so I used that and, on my eighth call I finally found someone who would come out (they all say “24 Hour Service” but no one was available at 4:30 on a Monday afternoon).

Richard and son (Ryan) showed up on my doorstep 30 minutes later and spent the next hour or so trying to work out the cause of my blow up. There is nothing so frustrating as waiting when there is nothing you can do and you don’t know anything. Of course I was distracted by calculating a second mortgage and selling my new car and prostituting myself to pay for my new electrical system.

Eventually they came to the suspicion that the problem was caused by what’s called an “open neutral”. They tested my neutral (from outdoor box to indoor breaker box) and that was fine so they called our local power monopoly, Progress Energy. Eric, the Progress Energy dude showed up around 7:00pm and he and Richard conversed and agreed that the problem was the neutral line that runs between the transformer and my outdoor box (code name = not-my-fault).

Now once they knew what it was, both Richard and Eric wasted no time in regaling me with stories about the terrors of the open neutral:

“Yep, you’re lucky you were home. People all the time come home after an open neutral fire and there’s nuthin’ left.”

Richard, the electrician

“We’re gonna fix this tonight because if we try to bypass it and this breaker goes you might wake up surrounded by flames.”

Eric, the Progress Energy dude

They honestly said that! I went out that very night about bought fire extinguishers and fire ladders for each bedroom but I’m still not sleeping great.

Progress Energy finished fixing the neutral and packed it up at around 10:30pm. Fortunately, before they left I did think to ask how I could get the things that had been destroyed replaced. Eric grudgingly told me to call customer service and that the whole process will take at least 2-4 weeks.

Sadly, the story is not done- and no, I’m not just trying to do another cliffhanger. Check back for a full list of destroyed and damaged items and an explanation of why you shouldn’t call an electrician first if your TV blows up… and I promise, it is a good one!