So, ah… What’s This Button Do?

Dearest Rachel –

Did I mention about this when Kris was over on Monday? She tried to plug the vacuum cleaner into an outlet in the kitchen, so as to clean up what few crumbs I’d dropped on the floor since the protective cardboard had been peeled up… and nothing happened. She tried several different plugs before discovering one on the opposite side of the kitchen, by the new refrigerator, that seemed to be functioning, and getting on with her task – not that there was all that much to clean up yet, apart from the inner workings of the now supposedly non-functional air fryer.

Oh, and that’s how I discovered the situation several days earlier, by the way (although I didn’t recognize it for what it was at the time); Saturday evening, after picking dinner up for Daniel and Logan after working the booth at church, I pulled out some leftover pizza from earlier in the week for myself, set the slices in the basket, and slid it into the air fryer… which didn’t switch on like it normally does when I perform that action. Yes, I got the thing fairly cheaply – in fact, I think I bought it with credit card points as opposed to actual money – but for it to stop working after barely a year seems a bit odd, to say the least.

I settled on using the air fryer function of the new oven, for the first time. And it probably showed, as it didn’t heat up – or crisp up – the slices the way the portable unit did. I’m guessing that, unlike the portable unit, every function in the oven requires preheating, and I stuck them in too soon and for not long enough. But if I done the same thing in the appliance, they’d probably burn, so how was I to know? Teething troubles with new equipment, I suppose.

As disappointing as the result was, I didn’t think much more of it until Kris came over and had her own troubles with the kitchen outlets. When I pointed my previous situation out to her, she carted the portable fryer back into the dining room (where I’d had it during the last couple of months of construction), plugged it in there, and proved that it was working just fine. Well, that was a bit of a relief, if a bit embarrassing; the fryer was functional, but the brand spanking new outlets weren’t. Even going downstairs to the circuit box, and flipping the breakers on and off didn’t help anything. Who could have seen that coming?

So I texted Tom the Electrician with news of the situation, asking him if he had any recommendations as to what to do about it, and I waited for a reply. And waited. And waited. By yesterday, it had been three days without a response, so I decided to contact Tim (the lead on the whole remodeling project, so, while not an electrician himself, he might have some pull) instead, and see if he could help me with this situation. Given that the work had been completed barely a couple weeks before, I sort of assumed that everything was still ‘under warranty,’ if you will.

And sure enough, contacting Tim got results. After a flurry of texts back and forth describing the situation, he asked if I could hang on until a little later in the morning, and Tom would be by himself to check the situation out. He also offered a theory of his own as to what might have happened – something about tripping a GFCI outlet, which meant nothing to me – but, since he was already on the way, I decided to leave it to Tom to investigate and confirm one way or another.

It turned out that Tim’s theory was exactly correct, but even now, I have no idea what a GFCI outlet is. But at least I now know where it is:

You can barely see it in this picture, but there’s an outlet hidden behind the blender and the seltzer maker. I’d all but forgotten about this particular outlet; even the blender’s not using it, being plugged in to a different outlet to the right.
But it turns out that those two buttons (marked ‘Reset’ and ‘Test’) between the outlets themselves are singularly important for all the plugs, from the dishwasher to the oven, and beyond to the garage.

Tom’s best guess is that the ‘Test’ button might’ve gotten bumped somewhere along the way last week, resulting in none of the outlets working since then. How it happened, is anybody’s guess, but once he pressed the ‘Reset’ button, the little light in the upper right hand corner turned green, and everything could be plugged in and switched on. He was therefore in and out in less than ten minutes, and that included his instructions as to how to deal with it (as well as an explanation as to what GCFI stood for, which I promptly forgot again. I figure as long as I know what to do, what it’s called – and why– doesn’t matter so much). So all’s well that ends well.

I did find myself thinking of that old literary trope about the curious lab assistant asking his superior “so, ah… what does this button do?” before pressing it, to the frantic (“Don’t touch that, you fool!”) protestations of said superior, at which point hilarity – or disaster, depending upon the genre of story – ensues. In fairness, it serves the scientist right for having some big red button in the middle of his lab. Something like that is just begging to be pressed. It’s just human nature.

Of course, this particular button isn’t nearly as big and conspicuous, so that’s obviously not what happened here. Sure, when the girls were here a few days previously, they were looking over the entire place, but I don’t remember them saying anything like that curious lab assistant. Most likely, the seltzer dispenser was shoved against the outlet, accidentally pressing the test button or something like that. At least now I know how to deal with the situation like this going forward. And as the cartoon says, knowing is half the battle.

After so many years of Anime Hell at ACen, you can practically hear the jingle after uttering that line.

Anyway, I’ll talk to you later, honey. Until then, keep an eye on me, and wish me luck; I’ll be shocked if I don’t have any.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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