Tuesday, December 7, 2010

electrically challenged

So its December 6th and one of my previous clients calls me to see if I can go address an issue with his tenant. It seems her bathroom " has run out of electric" is her exact wording. Right away I know this means a breaker has tripped, but did she really think that the bathroom can run out of electric ?, and only the bathroom?. So I go there and knock on the door. The girl answers the door, and I tell her who I am, and tell her I'm here to restore power to the bathroom. I was tempted to hold a gas can in my hand and play with her a bit, but anyone who thinks the bathroom can run out of electric may just try this on her own. Bad idea.

I go to the basement and sure enough, a breaker is tripped. I reset it, and right away I hear the patter of her feet all around her apartment. Within 30 seconds the breaker trips again, and now I need to see why. I knock on the door and ask her to show me what she has plugged in to make the breaker keep tripping. In the middle of the living room on the floor is a medium sized electric space heater sitting on top of a shoe box awkwardly leaning forward. Directly in front of the heater is a 2 gallon plastic wash tub that you use for washing dishes. The tub is full to the brim with water. The heater is leaning towards the water and as she walks around, the vibrations are making the heater rock forward farther, and I can see that any second the heater is going to fall face first into the water. I go and jerk the plug out of the wall and ask her what the heck she thinks she is doing. Se looks at me with a shocked expression and says, " I'm trying to make the heater create steam to moisten the air". I asked her why doesn't she just use the steam furnace that came with the apartment? They are known to make steam. I even suggest placing a pot of water On the stove and boiling it. She says she doesn't want to use the oil furnace because oil is expensive. I ask her if she has any clue how expensive the electric space heaters are to run? She starts comparing a friends oil price, and electric price...we are getting nowhere. I go back to the electric space heater and tub of water scenario, and ask her if she has any idea how dangerous this is? She does not. I asked her if she knows what will happen if the heater falls into the water? she says " it will get wet and spill the water" That's why there is a towel on the floor under the water tub". I explain that if the heater falls in the tub, she will possible get electrocuted, or start an electric fire. She looks at me with a defiant look, and says
" I'M not dumb you know, That's why the heater is in the living room and not the bathroom." She then says " those things only happen in the tub, right?" She is in college, for what I don't know, but I only hope she is not going to be a doctor, or an engineer.
The landlord has a new rule, No space heaters, and all tenants have to get their own renters fire insurance. I will work on getting him some electrical safety pamphlets.