Declining Standards: Funky Wiring and Other Notes To describe briefly a suite of three rooms: A bedroom with walk-in closet, a bathroom, and a small common room. There is something amiss about the wiring in the entire house. Recently, it was discovered that the reason the heating system didn't work correctly was that every forced air unit was wired incorrectly. One worked when the fan was set to low power, but tripped the circuit breaker if switched to high. Another actually sparked if you tried to set it on high. None of the rest of the fans, spread over three levels, worked at all. But in this suite of rooms, there is a weird issue that trips the breaker. If the computer powered through an outlet on the east wall is on, and the fan in the bathroom to the west, some set of circumstances will eventually bring down the power to the bedroom and the bathroom. However ... while the power drops in the bedroom and walk-in-closet, the outlets on the south wall—shared with the common room—are apparently unaffected. Additionally, one electrical outlet in the bathroom—on the south wall, which is situated against the stairs to the main floor—remains operable. The correlation of east-wall computer and bathroom fan is not consistent in and of itself. Two potential factors identified are whether the east-wall computer is spinning its hard drive—no, really, the thing will sit active and idling just fine, but if the drive spins up, the breaker trips—and the fan in a now correctly-wired heat register in the common room is on. The register is on the common room's north wall, which is the shared south wall of the bedroom, which in turn is part of what remains unaffected by the breaker trip. I have yet to pin down everything that needs to happen in order to willfully reproduce the phenomenon, but it's just weird. On another note, appliances such as the microwave and washing machine are breaking at an alarming rate; that is, within two years. And that part isn't just this particular townhouse. Complaints in this developed community have been pouring in. Refrigerators, gas ranges, laundry dryers—and just about everyone seems to loathe the heat system, which, even when it's working properly, doesn't work. At least one hot water system has been replaced. Of that we might simply shake our heads and wonder what ever happened to the idea of product quality in the American marketplace. But even setting that aside, I'm starting to wonder who the hell the subcontractor brought in to wire the place. I'm not particularly worried about a fire hazard; the circuit breaker might be lightweight—it's all fifteens and twenties, and in my youth I recall seeing thirties and forties (often dual fifteens or twenties) in home circuit breakers, especially when the circuit covers more than one room. But I still can't figure why the two outlets on the south wall of the bedroom and the one outlet on the south wall of the bathroom are unaffected when the breaker trips. It's just annoying. Miles Wilson once described Volvo electrical systems as "designed by a German engineer who subscribed to Gurdjieffian electrokinetics and had never forgiven the Swedes their neutrality in World War II". This isn't quite the same thing, but still, it's strange and annoying. Say what you want about shutting down your computer when you're not using it in order to not waste electricity; you're probably right. And say what you want about using workhorses for the computers that are either old or really old; you're probably right. Still, though, the problem existed before the second computer arrived, and it's only because of the second computer that I noticed the south wall of the bedroom still had power. And it's only a damn night light that informed me that the south wall of the bathroom still had power. It's just really bizarre, and really, really annoying. ____________________ Notes: Wilson, Miles. "Wyoming". The Iowa Award: The Best Stories From Twenty Years. Ed. Frank Conroy. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1991. Print.