Today, I spent some quality time with our breaker panel.
If all goes well, our electrician friend will stop by on his way home from his job in the city to look at our dead bathroom fan, and the one my husband bought to replace it.
I am not sure we’ll be able to use it, because it is supposed to have heater lamps in it (the bulbs need to be purchased separately) and there might not be enough power load for that. Plus, we would likely want to have a third switch installed so the fan can be operated without the heater lamps. If it’s not appropriate for use, we’ll get another and save this one for when we get a second bathroom installed.
Now, the electricity in this place is quite inadequate to modern needs. Not enough outlets, and it doesn’t take much to trip a breaker. For example, we can’t have the coffee pot or tea kettle and the toaster going at the same time.
The breaker panel had not been labelled, so my older brother figured out which were which, as best he could, and printed out a list. Some were pretty obvious. When he had the new electric furnace installed, it got its own breaker. Same with the drier when the entry was made into a laundry room. Beyond that, he just turned things on and off and figured it out the best he could, printed out the list and put it up on the panel. He even put it in a plastic sleeve, rather than affixing it directly to the panel, so we could add to it as we needed, since he wasn’t able to find everything.
Since we’re looking at getting electrical work done in the bathroom, I figured it would be good to know which breaker the light and fan switch plate is hooked up to. I turned on the bathroom light, which I can see from the breaker panel, and checked the list.
Nothing was labelled for bathroom.
There’s one labelled “unknown”, so I tried that first.
It’s still unknown.
I then tried the one labelled Old Kitchen.
I then got an alarmed question from upstairs, asking why we lost power.
There is a breaker labelled “Upstairs”, but it turns out that’s just for the two newer outlets, which the girls’ computers are plugged into. The old outlets, which their fan is plugged into, is on the same breaker as the Old Kitchen light. Which means that, while my daughter was working on her computer, the fan turned off, and she thought we’d lost power until she realized her computer wasn’t affected. *phew*
I then tried the one labelled Old Kitchen Plug. That turned out to be the one our freezer is now plugged into.
Nope. Not the bathroom.
Then I hear my printer restarting itself and my daughter is asking, why did we lose the internet?
Okay. So the breaker labelled Old Kitchen Plug is also for my office.
We then shut down our computers (thankfully, my power bar protected my computer from being affected by the breaker being switched off).
I then started working my way through the other labels, trying to figure out which one would be the bathroom, testing different ones that seemed they might include the bathroom. That included one labelled NW Freezer, which is the outlet in the old kitchen that our freezer used to be plugged into. (At the time it was labelled, there were two freezers in there.)
Finally, I started trying the less logical ones, like one labelled for the basement, or the fridge, etc. I even tried the one labelled Septic Pump.
Going through the list again, I found one I hadn’t tried yet.
Living Room TV.
The bathroom light turned off.
My daughter and I were just shaking our heads. These rooms are about as opposite in the house as you can get.
In the process, I realized we don’t know which breaker the master bedroom is part of. My husband was asleep, so we couldn’t check at the same time.
Also, while we do know about one outlet and light switch in the old part basement, we don’t know about any of the other switches and outlets in the rest of that basement, or the new part basement. Plus, since we’ve got extension cords coming up from holes to the basement, there would be breakers hooked up to places in the basement that would affect power cords on the ground floor.
It is so strange.
The Old Kitchen has a light and two outlets, each on different breakers. I now know one of those outlets is also on the same breaker as the office. Or at least the two outlets. The light wasn’t on at the time, so that might be on a different breaker. Also, it’s one of the rooms with an extension cord coming up the floor, along with a TV cable (this became my dad’s bedroom as his mobility decreased, and a TV was set up for him to be able to watch from bed), which is likely on another breaker. What is sharing the breakers the other old kitchen outlet and the light are on? I didn’t have the light on in the sun room to be able to tell which one it’s on, either.
We’re going to have to do more mapping in the future.
The old part of the house may not have had running water when I was a kid, but it did have electricity. When the new part was added on, aside from the stove being on its own breaker, everything else would have just been extended from existing lines.
I would so love to get this place rewired, top to bottom, with each room on its own breaker.
But if we were going to start tearing out walls to do that, we’d be renovating the house from top to bottom at the same time.
It certainly needs it, but we’d have to win the lottery or something, first!
Until then, we’ll just have to keep trying to map things out and add to the list as we discover them!