The HandyManiacs are called everyday from customers who tell us that the power is suddenly out in their kitchens, bathroom, laundry rooms or even patios. "Come quickly ... it's an emergency!" "Our electrical system is totally down!"
Well ... in forty years of doing this, we have never seen a catastrophic failure like that ... not once. Wires do not simply stop working. Breakers never break and outlets, which can fail, do so rarely that it, too is almost unheard of. So, what is it that happens everyday to make so many people so crazy? It's your GFCI outlets! They are made to trip (suddenly stop working) as a safety measure if they ever get wet or have a shorted appliance plugged in ... and by "shorted appliance" we mean something as common as an old hairdryer or even a cheap cell phone charger.
The thing about these guys is that they are all connected to each other ... all over the house and even in the outlet by the front door or on the patio. One goes ... they all go. If you splash water in your bathroom, the main water heater or washing machine can stop working. Run over an extension cord when you are working on your car and your coffee pot will stop. It's maddening! ... and it's super common.
We could tell you all about Residential Electric Code and why this happens, but let's just say that it does happen at every house all the time. You need to know what to do because paying $150 to an electrician to reset things only to have to do it again a week later is not a good solution.
So ... what do we do? First thing you do is find every outlet and light on the circuit. The easiest way to do this is walk around the house (the whole house) and find every outlet that looks like the one in the picture. Some will not have the black/red buttons but will have a "GFCI" label. They count, too. Find them all and write it on a map. When one thing on this group "pops," they all go. Sometimes the breaker on the electric panel goes, too, so include that on your list. When things shut down, nothing is broken. Everything is working as it should and you can touch these things without getting shocked (unless they is an exposed wire ... in which case, stop and call The HandyManiacs ... this is an emergency and you could get hurt).
All you have to do when the power goes out on this line, is to unplug everything and go to every one of these outlets and press the RED button and then the BLACK one. Do this one-by-one until you get them all. If you do this, your problem will be solved almost every time. Skip one and that will be the culprit and your power will still be out. Then plug stuff back in one at a time. When it "pops" again, you will know which appliance was bad and can now replace it (after you reset everything again).
That's how you save a gazillion dollars on electrical service calls. Pro Tip: Have a working flashlight around ... these things have a way of happening at night.
There are two kinds of electric car charging methods ... the basic 240V outlet, which is painfully slow, but inexpensive to install and the more "professional," high powered version which will charge your car about 5x to 10x faster ... but it will need a licensed contractor and a permit because it will draw a lot more power and that can be dangerous if it's not done right (which includes a new load calculation for your house and much more industrial wires and outlets). Let's talk about it for free and look over where your electric panel is and where you want to put the outlet (so you don't run over your expensive charging cable every day).
This actually happens a lot. Homeowners tear up a major part of their houses while trying to repair, fix or simply upgrade something big. In this case, the goal was to take up the awful 1950's vinyl tile and replace it with modern wood. The mess it made was epic ... but the outcome was even more dramatic. Turns out that after they gave up and called The HandyManiacs, we found that the floor under the tile was actually fantastic 1920's era red oak and it was mostly okay. The old floor on top of the great floor was then removed, hauled away and the real work started. The old oak was repaired (new boards in a bunch of spots) and resurfaced. Then a few coats of modern stain and semi-reflective urethane to bring out the luster of the old floor. Who knows if it ever looked this good, but it never looked better and for so much less cost than the homeowner thought possible.
On a day that many will remember, The HandyManiacs were working at a NASA contractor's office when the Shuttle Challenger went down. It was shocking for everyone, but especially for The HandyManiacs who did not know what happened until the Secret Service came in, locked the office doors, confiscated all of The HandyManiacs' tools and stopped all communication with our home office for most of the day. The data on the computers that we were working on became the focus of attention. What secrets would they tell and how to make sure that the data was preserved without alteration? Turns out, The HandyManiacs knew exactly how to do that and the Agents came to rely on our expertise to help get it right. Our repairs that day changed in an instant from something routine to a major life changing adventure for the entire HandyManiacs Team.
Maybe the best part of being a Fixer is that you never know what the day will bring. Certainly, working for the Federal Reserve Bank is all about money, but mostly the money comes across the screen and not in a bag ... except one day that was not the case. Our Fixers where on the way upstairs to tend a routine computer fix when a cart in the basement with bags and bags of money over turned and all the old money spilled out. It looked like a zillion dollars and may actually have been that much. Everyone looked at each other not sure what to do ... and then it became clear. The Fixers set their tool bags down and started stuffing the money back into the bags just like you do with autumn leaves. It wasn't long, with the Fixers help that all the money was back in the bags and on it's way to the shredder. Not a single bill was lost and now we have a great story to tell.
The Fixers are called to patch a leaky roof most every day ... even out here in the desert. More often than not, the leak was a result of poor patch work before. Now, it's easy to say, "Hey, shoddy workmanship caused this problem. You need an expensive repair," but that would be wrong. Sometimes, you really don't need an expensive repair. The difference between "shoddy" and "correct" is not really a lot of time or a lot of money. It's mostly having talent up there who knows how to do a good job. Fix what needs fixing ... do it right ... and leave the rest alone. Someday, the whole roof will need replacing and that will cost a lot ... but that's "someday" and not today. If we can, let's fix what needs fixing and call it a day!