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Posted Sunday, October 26, 2008, at 8:40 AM

"Our house, is a very very very fine house" were a few of the lyrics to a Crosby Stills & Nash tune popular somewhere in my past. Now while I love our place, it does have some interesting features that have been added since the house was built. For example the plumbing system. Yep, this place was built without indoor plumbing back in 1925 we understand, and though not added to "code", the system works pretty well most of the time... until yesterday.

I had just headed into the basement to start work on a utility shelve project when I smelled the unmistakable odor of an electrical fire. Unmistakable to me at least as I worked for years with electronic systems that "smoked" wires and components and the smell is always the same to me. So off I go looking for the source as quickly as possible and once I hit the utility room, the cause of the odor was apparent... there were flames!

Now before you get a mental picture of the utility room being fully engulfed with fire, there was only a small flame coming from the water systems pump pressure relay and not a full conflagration. I doubt this flame could have ever caused a serious fire the way it was installed and away from combustible materials, but the sight of an open flame where it should not be is always disconcerting.

To make a long story short, I quickly cut the power and extinguished the flames simply by blowing on it like a putting out a candle. I drained the water system enough to replace the relay and after a quick call to Lord's Hardware in Indianola, determined they likely had a new replacement part. So off I went, procured parts, and replaced same to get things back in order. While I was at it I replaced the sediment filter that I'd been putting off since I knew I would have to drain the system. What I didn't know was that someone had removed the old filter element and never put one back in. No wonder I noticed sand in the toilet tank when working on a leaky tank ball a few weeks ago.

So now that this emergency repair is behind me, I can go back to my original plan of building some utility shelves. I just hope something else doesn't come up to bite me in the butt. Like I said before, me and Murphy (Murphy's Law) must be pretty good friends because he still seems to be living around here somewhere.

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The City Slickers
Brian Hoag
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