On Wiring: The Shock of it All
TOH editor Scott Omelianuk talks about upgrading a lighting fixture
The editor not finishing another project.
I was climbing the ladder to work on a living room paint project when my phone beeped. It was my brother, texting. "Can I get your help today?" he asked. "I want to upgrade my electrical panel to a 200-amp service."
Now, to be honest, upgrading a light fixture makes me uncomfortable—replacing a whole panel terrifies me. "That's a job for an electrician," I texted back, and then hit speed dial to continue the conversation. He picked up and immediately said, "It's okay, I watched a video on YouTube."
"Oh, good," I said, "that'll give me something to tell the coroner. 'No, sir, I don't understand how he could have died—after all, he watched a video on YouTube.'" He was adamant, though: "I spoke to the power company. You pop the strap on the meter, and it just unplugs like a lamp from an outlet and kills the power to the house."
"The meter?" I was panicking. "We are not going to mess with the meter!"
"It's easy," he said. "The utility sent a lady out about a month ago to replace it, and it took, like, 45 seconds." "Yeah," I replied. "If a highly trained full-time employee of the regional utility can do it, it's gotta be a piece of cake for us." And that should have ended it. But then he said, "Come on, someone has to call 911 when I'm convulsing on the floor."
I mean, it's no secret that my brother and I argue—and argue a lot. Sometimes we can't stand each other—mostly when he's wrong about something, which is, you know, usually. But to abandon him on his last day on earth?
Anyway, the rest of the story turned out to be less electrifying than it could have been. The home center was out of the one part we needed (big surprise there), and instead of working we spent the rest of the day driving from one store to another in search of it. But that was okay. It gave me a chance to deal with more beeping on my phone—e-mails. Hundreds of e-mails from TOH readers objecting to an ad in the back of the April issue that featured a bikini-clad model. For many folks, TOH isn't just about the home, it's an extension of home. And we all have our own measure of what's appropriate on the warm side of the front door. Lots of people felt we let something in over the threshold that we shouldn't have. Perhaps you saw the ad too. In any case, I want to tell you the same thing we told every single one of those e-mail writers.
We want you to know that the editors of TOH care deeply about our relationship with you guys and work hard to keep your trust. The decision to run the ad was not an editorial one. But we're glad to report that our publishers have heard your thoughts, and they want us to assure you that ads of this type will no longer appear. Our sincere apologies to you all, and, most importantly, thanks for telling us what's on your mind; we're honored that you pay such close attention to—and care so passionately about—This Old House.