Monday, October 5, 2009

Life happens.

I haven't had electricity in my bedroom for about a week now. I think it was last Monday night when I flipped the light switch, heard a pop, and stood in a dark room. (The days of flu blur together a bit.) My clock was dead as well so it obviously wasn't the light bulb. The breaker is conveniently located directly above my bed so I tried flipping it, but it felt floppy and wouldn't stay in position. I tried unplugging my clock to ensure I wasn't overloading the circuit; still nothing.

This would have been a good time to call the landlord, except for the minor difficulty that the only thing I know about him is that his name is Larry. I talked to my roommate, and her old roommate used to have his number, but she lost it some months ago. My roommate does, however, know both his name and where he lives. She was expecting him to come by that weekend to collect October's rent since he always shows up within a couple of days of payday so we decided to just wait and tell him then. It was a bit of an inconvenience, yes, but I can get my work done in the living room and now have an excuse to wear this cool headlamp I bought a year ago and pretend I'm spelunking even as I type this post.

The weekend has come and gone with no sign of the landlord, and I'm a bit less charmed by my electricity-free quarters. It's time to either get serious about fixing the circuitry or buy a kersosene lantern. I'm about ready to take matters into my own hands. After talking to my favorite former apprentice electrician, I now know that the place to start is to replace the breaker and see if that fixes the problem. It sounds simple enough, and it'll probably be safe as long as I cut off power to the house, invest in a circuit tester to be doubly sure, and get my roommate to stand by with a broom handle. The prospect of moving on from fixing our toilet to doing our own electrical repairs is pretty exciting, actually.

There's just one teensy problem. A weekend visit to see that former electrician and his family has left me rather low on funds for the week. I have $8 cash plus $13something on a Wal-Mart card for groceries, gas, and school supplies. I suspect that won't get me a breaker, and I am loath to wait until I collect my Friday afternoon allowance to try to restore power to my room. I think it may be time to break into that $1,000 "life happens fund" sitting in savings. Based on the cost of bills for the past two months, I'll certainly be able to replenish whatever a breaker costs by the end of the month. It doesn't really matter whether I just take the money out of checking instead, but I'm more likely to take it seriously if I treat it as a debt to myself.


Sallie's Niece said...

You don't have your landlord's phone number? Isn't it on the lease? I see that being a huge problem.

Good luck with fixing the electricity. Also any more you spend on the problem you are entitled to deduct from your rent. Technically you're supposed to give the landlord an opportunity to remedy the problem first but as you have no means of getting in touch with them I think that rule shouldn't apply.

Anonymous said...

You should really try again to get in touch with the landlord. Should anything happen and this is electrical so something can easily go wrong, you could be liable.

Plus, the best benefit of renting is having the landlord fix things!

E.C. said...

Ok, you win, I'm going to try to get a hold of the landlord again, but if the situation isn't resolved by this weekend, I'm going to try to fix this myself.

DogAteMyFinances said...


The whole point of renting: It's not your problem!

Pull the tax records, I bet you can do it online. You could use your address or his. You might be able to get a full name to Google.

If you really have this bad of a landlord, call someone and bill him. Don't electrocute yourself over his problem.

E.C. said...

There are things in life worth getting worked up about and things that aren't. I'd like electricity in my room, but it isn't like I can't work in the living room instead. If it isn't fixed by this time next week, then I'll probably feel at bit frustrated. Still, this is so very minor compared with what many of my kids deal with on a daily basis.

I really do appreciate the helpful suggestions from everyone, though!

savings said...

Have your landlord fix it. You really should have his number! It's not worth the safety risk, or the expense to do it yourself as you're renting. Save that for when you own!

If you're set on fixing it yourself, send your landlord a bill for anything you have to buy. I think legally he has to reimburse you?

blukats said...

I suggest just finding the circuit breaker box and flipping the switch for that circuit. Usually the problem is just that it went off because of an overload and you don't even need to replace anything or have anyone fix anything.

It's always worked for me. Just find the box, flip the switch off if it's sitting in the middle, and then back on.

E.C. said...

That's good advice, but I tried that on day one without electricity. The switch just won't stay up. There's no tension in the breaker switch so an electrician friend of mine said it is probably the breaker that is broken rather than a short in the wiring itself.