Friday, August 31, 2007

Weird Electrical Happenings!

Something extremely odd happened here yesterday. Allen was off working with the team, and a few of the kids and I were at home. The kids were listening to an audiobook, and I was working on the computer, when the power went out. The power goes out rather often, of course, so that wasn't the strange thing. When the house went dark and silent . . .the computer and internet stayed on! That has never happened before!

We immediately started checking the fuse box, but quickly found that this did not hold the solution to the problem. In the course of checking around the house, we actually found that a small number of outlets were working, although most were not, and none of the overhead lights or appliances were receiving electricity.

I called Allen, and since he was working close to Gracias, he came home around lunchtime, to see what could be done to get the power back to the rest of the house. First, of course, he had to investigate the situation, to find the cause of this strange problem.

He rechecked the fuse boxes, checked for problems in our wiring, and checked to make sure we had paid our most recent electric bill. The thought behind this was that perhaps this house had one of those electric lines which runs directly from the street to the house, without ever checking in at the meter. If that line connected to some of the outlets, and the power to our house had been cut off by the electric company, those few outlets would keep working. But, we found that our bill was paid, and we were unable to discover any extra power lines running into our house from the street.

Since he hadn't found any problems in our house, Allen went to ask the neighbors if they had power. The neighbors all said 'yes,' they had power in their houses. So, Allen went back to looking for problems relating directly to our house.

After he was still unable to find the cause of the problem in our house, Allen went to the neighbors again, and asked them, "Are you sure you have power in your house?"

The older lady across the street answered, " Yes, I have power to my phone."

So Allen asked, "Is anything not working?"

Her answer to this? "Oh, the refrigerator doesn't have power, but I do have power to my phone."

So, now that Allen had learned how to ask his question, he went around to the neighbors again, and discovered that they were all having the same problems in their homes that we were experiencing.

Ahhhh, so now we were able to call the power company, and they came out to repair the lines. I don't have a thorough understanding of how electricity works, but here is my low-tech attempt to explain what happened.

Electricity is run in three lines. Two of these lines run 110, and one line is the ground. Together, these three lines make up the 220 system that is used here. Apparently, one of the 110 lines was not connected. When the lines enter the house, through the fuse box, some fuses are connected to one 110 line, some to the other. So, the fuses which were connected to the broken line were not working, but my computer was on a fuse connected to the good line, so it kept on going. That is my attempt to explain something that I don't fully understand, from Allen's explanation of the situation to me. Don't blame Allen if I'm not making sense here - I must take all the blame for that.

A few hours later, the line was reconnected, and full power was restored to our house. Just another educational day in Honduras!


Robin's Reports said...

What a strange dilemma Trish. So glad that somebody had a good grasp on the situation.

This is Robin of FL from Sonlight.

Trish said...

Me too, Robin! I've never heard of this happening in the states . . . but I'm guessing the power company guys here do a lot of repair work to keep our crazy electrical system going. Once they were contacted, it only took a few hours for them to have it fixed.