May 15, 2007

It's electric

I don't know much about electricity. I have a general understanding that, when I flip a lightswitch, I encourage a flow of particles, called electrons--or, as I like to call them, "magical sparky things"--through copper wires in a loop referred to as a circuit--or, as I like to call it, "an electricity lasso." That's generally the extent of my electrical knowledge.

Oh, I also know it hurts to get shocked, and electrical burns can leave marks ranging from a dark smudge on the skin to a tiny hole through the finger that hurts more than you'd think it should.

Considering I view electricity more as a dangerous mystery than a life-simplifying commodity, I tend to shy away from actually working around the magical sparky things whenever possible.

The problem with my house, unfortunately, is it was constructed back in the days when people were just discovering how many new and wonderful things could make use of electricty, such as televisions. As a result, the "fuse box" down in the basement is more complex than the NASA flight control rooms of the late 1960s.

For example, there's a standard-issue fuse box that's responsible for such things as lights and electrical sockets, but then there's an add-on box responsible for the central air conditioning unit--complete with black marker text on a switch that reads "Summer: ON; Winter: OFF." There's also a strange box I call "the ticker," which basically "ticks," like a clock, only really fast, like a bomb that's late for work. There's three other, separate, boxes which I honestly can't discern their purpose, although I have no doubt they're probably very important, as per my rule that, "anything responsible for regulating electricity is probably very important."

The thing is, even though I know the electrical configuration in my house is antiquated, to say the least, I've lacked the financial means to actually update my electrical service until only recently. So, up to this point, every time I walked by the fuse box configuration, I did so with a certain amount of awe, and on occasion smeered goat blood above it to ward off evil spirits.

Well, after about three years of intensive financial saving, I've managed to accrue what I believe is enough to have a professional "magical sparky thing" worker come to my humble abode and dispose of the complex fuse box configuration and install a newfangled "breaker box" solution, complete with updated electrical service to accommodate the rapidly evolving world of technological gadgetry.

What I'm learning, in my search for a good (and reasonably-priced) electrician, is "older is better," meaning there seems to be a direct correlation when it comes to the estimated price for updating my electrical service and the perceived age of the electrician on the other end of the line.

For example, one of the electrical outfits I contacted routed me to a young-sounding individual who cited a bunch of considerations before calculating the cost would be somewhere over $3,000. This left me sufficiently shocked, until I called another electrician, named Don, who sounded much older and said the project should come in "maybe around $1,000 or thereabouts."

You don't hear "thereabouts" bandied about much in conversation nowadays, so I felt compelled to like Don immensely, and not just because his estimate came in $2,000 below his competition.

I'm still hunting for the best electrical estimate for my eventual upgrade, but I'm shooting for a 124 year-old electrician with a name like Prosper Goodsoul. That guy would upgrade my fuse box for the price of a warm smile and a homemade brownie, I reckon.

Posted by Ryan at May 15, 2007 10:50 AM | TrackBack

Lordy didy! Back in 1996 I paid about $150 to replace the old fuse box in my newly purchased old home. You are better off waiting for Prosper Goodsoul. I am sure he exists somewhere...out there.

Posted by: Dave in Pgh. at May 15, 2007 05:58 PM

Well, first you got some parts you gotta buy, and then are you rewiring the whole house or are you just putting in a fuse box? Cuz that is not all that hard, but you have to have licensing to do it. Get them to come out and estimate. That way everyone is on the same page, and also, let them know you are pricing/bidding it out, which encourages them to be more competetive in their pricing. And check the bbb web page for your state, just to double check.
cuz you know, electricity is sparkly.....

Posted by: Donna at May 16, 2007 08:17 AM

I've had electricians comging in to do estimates all week, Donna. I don't part with money easily, believe me.

Posted by: Ryan at May 16, 2007 08:47 AM

I'm shooting for a 124 year-old electrician with a name like Prosper Goodsoul. That guy would upgrade my fuse box for the price of a warm smile and a homemade brownie, I reckon.

Of course that same guy will look at your 1960s fusebox, mutter something under his breath about, "Newfangled gizmos," and install one of those Bugs Bunny things with the giant tuning-fork shaped DC switches that occasionally electrocute people and unwarry pets.

Posted by: Joshua at May 16, 2007 01:12 PM
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