The Melody of a Miswire
About 40 years ago, I was helping my old friend Tom change out a furnace. He was a licensed warm air mechanic, and I was a journeyman electrician. The door chime transformer had been connected to the furnace junction box because that was the only circuit in the basement that was hot at all times. As we were finishing up the job, the homeowner said, “Let me hook up the low-voltage part.” So I gave him some twist-on connectors and went ahead with the other work. When we were done, Tom said, “Go up and turn up the thermostat.” When I did, I heard the chime go “ding,” so I turned it back down — and the chime sounded again. Then I stepped out onto the porch and pushed the chime button. Tom finally called to me and said, “Okay, it came on.” I replied, “That's great, Tom, but who gets the job of standing on the porch all winter?” Immediately, we all knew what had happened and had a good laugh over the mistake.
Stop & Go Downhill Run
While employed as an engineer at a theme park several years ago, I had occasion to enter one of the attractions to survey it for a future modification. As I entered the Alpine Ski Resort, I was greeted by a young maintenance electrician with whom I was acquainted. He approached me with a puzzled look and asked for my advice. He had been given the task of installing several wall-mounted fans in the ride's guest loading area. Armed with the proper wire, conduit, and receptacles, he had (in the true tradition of concealing all wiring) located an electrical pull box behind the themed façade, and proceeded to attach the fan receptacle circuits to the wiring inside the box. Unfortunately, when he switched the fans on they would not run at full speed. He also noted that there was a “pulsing buzz” coming from them. Thinking that he had been given defective fans, he replaced them but still had the problem. I looked at the fans and noted the frequency of the pulses. Looking up, I pointed out the relationship between these pulses and flickering lights of the themed hanging luminaires. After a few moments, “the light flickered on” in his head. He had wired the fans into the character lighting flicker-flame effect circuits.
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