Blackout bummer

No, not another citywide blackout, thank Bob!  I’ve lived through two of those and two was enough.

I was checking my email today when my computers and monitor suddenly shut down. The music went quiet in the living room downstairs as well. But I could hear the radio playing in the shop downstairs. It took me five seconds to figure out what happened. People a block away probably heard me yell, “NOOOOoooo!!”

This has happened to other houses on the block. The underground feeder cables into these houses are old. Add a bunch of melting snow and road salt like we’ve had the past couple of weeks, throw in some leaky manhole covers and these cables can fry.

A typical home has two legs of power coming into the breaker box, 180 degrees out of phase. If you lose one of them you typically lose power to half the breakers.

I checked the main breaker in the panel to make sure it didn’t “half trip” (it hadn’t). That’s about all any of us can do besides bend over and call an electrician. This isn’t the kind of thing for a home owner tyromaniac to mess with, not that I could have done much anyway. Con Ed won’t act unless a licensed electrician verifies a problem with their service.

The electrician from Blaze Electric (I’ve always thought that was an unfortunate choice of names for an electrical contractor) arrived about an hour later. He told me that mine was his second job like this today. He pronounced that feeder cable DOA, bridged the panel so I wouldn’t have a half-dark house and called Con Ed.

$380, please. Yikes. Like I said, bend over. He said Con Ed is supposed to reimburse me for it. I suppose I could get away with charging my clients $760/hour if someone else was paying.

The problem is that Con Ed takes its sweet time with jobs like this. My neighbor waited three months for Con Ed to replace the wires into her house. Hopefully, it’s something that Con Ed can fix with a splice in the street. Otherwise, I’m gonna get very, very aggravated.

The problem is that I can’t use any 220v appliances until I get this fixed. Besides my clothes dryer, that also means my Delta table saw. Like I don’t have much need for THAT in the middle of a bedroom reno.

After moping for most of the afternoon I decided I had no choice but to modify my renovation plans. The next job on the list which doesn’t require ripping lumber is sanding and finishing all the woodwork. I guess it doesn’t mess me up too much to do it now. I just wanted to get most of the tools back downstairs to the shop before starting on it.


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Welcome to Brooklyn Row House

This blog is about the challenges of renovating an old (1903) Brooklyn, New York row house.

My last major renovation project was the master bedroom, most of which is about finish carpentry. You’ll find other completed home improvement projects in the Projects submenu at the top of this page.

I’m not a professional builder and don’t pretend to be. I’m just an experienced amateur raised in a family of committed DIYers. I try to closely follow local and national building codes but don’t mistake anything on this site to be professional or even accurate advice! Your mileage may and definitely will vary.

This is the third iteration of, from scratch-built to Drupal and now Wordpress. I hope you enjoy your time here.