A couple of days ago we woke up to find that one room was without power. No lights, no power to the wall sockets. While we couldn’t think why that room should have been singled out, the fix was obvious – a circuit breaker must have tripped, so I went downstairs to reset it.
Except it hadn’t. All of the circuit breakers were fine. None had tripped. None was even a little bit wobbly. I became puzzled, and more than a little bit nervous – if the breakers were fine, this suggested a wiring issue. And wiring can mean arcing or heat…. It was clearly time to call an electrician. Specifically, it was time to log in to Angie’s List.
A couple of hours later a young electrician turned up. Initially, he was as baffled as I had been. Was there a secondary panel somewhere in the house? (None that I knew of.) We searched from basement to attic, without success. Which breaker covered that room? Ah, well, bit of a problem there: the 40-circuit panel was unlabelled, unmapped.
Since we bought the house six years ago, we’d only made two changes that involved electrical work: a yard sprinkler system, and bathroom extractor fans. The electrician identified the breaker that controlled the fans, and pulled it. This looked like it might be the culprit: there were several circuits connected to this one breaker. He added a temporary splice, reconnected the breaker, and everything came back to life. Excellent trouble-shooting!
But of course this was just a short-term solution. The next day the senior electrician came by, and we assessed the situation. The 40-breaker panel dated back to the 1970s; it now had at least 42 circuits coming in to it, and it wasn’t up to (current) code. So next month we’re going to replace it with two 30-breaker panels, which will give us some headroom. And this time we’re going to label everything.