Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mr. Fix-it

I have been renting from Erika for 18 months now. She has a BIG two car garage with a door opener I have been using since day one. With her insane surgical resident hours she was always worried about waking up her room mates opening the garage door at all hours so she has always parked outside. As the weather has gotten cold and icy again I assured Erika that since the garage is on the opposite end of the house as the bedrooms there is no way she would disturb anyone so by all means she should park in the garage and keep her car warmer and ice free.

Now the garage door opener has two light bulb sockets on it but they have never worked. When I first moved in I tried two different compact florescent lights (CFL) in both of the sockets and they did not work and they would both work in other light sockets so clearly it was not a light bulb problem.

Say la vie, no big deal, I have excellent night vision plus walking around in the dark garage is a fun game I like to play. Can I put my hand exactly on the door handle the first try? If I touch any part of my car before the door handle I loose. (yeah, I find fun in this, I'm a nerd, so what's new? Leave me alone!)

Anyway, that was fine for me but now that Erika is parking in there I felt the manly need to solve the problem! I mean we can't let Erika walk around in the dark now can we? No we can not!

So with tool kit in hand and testosterone surging through my bloodstream I started disassembling the garage door opener yesterday. I figured that since garage door openers vibrate a lot it was probably a loose connection somewhere that would be very simple to find and fix. I had to pull some innards out to do it but I traced all the light wires and I could see that everything was connected. Hmmmm.

So I borrowed a multi-meter and put probes on leads. Ok, power comes OUT of the circuit board to excite the relay, good... The relay kicks on and power flows out the relay into the wire, excellent... and at the light bulb end of wire I have power. Huh? So I stick the multi meter probes into the light socket and I have power in the socket!? What?

I screw the CFL bulb in again and no light. A bad bulb? But I checked that before! Well, check it again. So I go to a nearby closet and unscrew the conventional bulb and screw in the CFL and it lights. What? It's not a bad bulb and I have power to the socket, how is this possible? In my highly testosterone charged state this is really starting to piss me off!

So, standing there in the closet in the garage with a conventional bulb in one hand and manly hormones charging through my system, a Zen-like state of oneness with the universe overcomes me and I contemplate the deep mystery of how a bulb that works in the closet won't work in the garage door opener.

Suddenly it dawns on me to try the conventional bulb in the opener.

Yeah, I had to think HARD to come up with THAT brilliant plan! :(

And voila! There is light!

So, I have been parking in the dark for a year and a half, I have the opener all pulled apart, multi meter intently probing circuit boards all because I never thought to try an ordinary bulb in the socket. Suddenly I have the overpowering urge to do my Forest Gump imitation. "I... do... so... know... what... love... is... Jen-ney". I feel so dense that nearby objects are being effected by my growing gravitational field. I feel sure light is beginning to bend around me.

Look at these bulbs.

On the CFL bulb in the foreground look right above the threaded portion that goes into the socket. See how it flares out and gets lots bigger? Now look at the conventional bulbs in the background. See how the area above the threads does not get much wider? On the CFL bulb that wide area hits the outer edge of the garage door opener's unusually deep socket before the end of the threaded portion gets all the way down to the contact.

Oh so simple. DUH.

I start putting the opener back together. There is no joy, no testosterone, no victory over the inanimate now. I just needed a new light bulb. That's all.



Sauntering Soul said...

I have a headache just reading about everything you did.

Melissa said...

All that work, I hate it when that happens!!

Tanya said...

That is great. At least now you know all about how garage openers work. Plus, I bet you have prepared yourself for one day if you ever are blind. You will know how to find your car. ;)

Taj said...

You're a genius! That's the most outstanding answer I've ever heard. You must have a I.Q. of a hundred and sixty! You are gifted, Private Gump!

;) said...

Ahh haaaa too funny... it's always the easy answer....

Thanks for visiting


Kat said...

The solution was simply too easy...but with my mind in the gutter I had a big smile on my face when I read that the power excited the relay...oh yeah

Melek said...

it's like when i complained incessantly to my landlord that my dishwasher had died. he finally sent out a repair man after many phone calls of complaints from me. and the repairman came in and said (without even looking at the dishwasher), you need to have this light switch on for it to work. flipped it, and it came right on.

i've never felt like such a girl in all my life.

just be glad you didnt call the repair man out there to look at it first.... now THAT would have been embarrassing.

Rob said...

Sauntering - Why are women ALWAYS getting headaches around me? :)

Melissa - been there eh? :)

Tanya - Yep. Now that I can find the car blind I am going to start practicing my blind driving, then I’ll be ready!

Taj - I'm so proud, there is at least one other person as up on cutting edge pop culture as I am! :)

Rose – I’ll be back- you are creative!

Kat – I’m shocked! You have a twisted and filthy mind! I really like that in a person! :) Have you met Taj? LOL!

Melek – OMG! That reminds me of a story I do not think I will tell! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh so chivalrous! And may I recommend you NOT go into surgery if the first thing you do (instead of checking a pulse) is to pull out the heart and stick some electrodes on it (c:
Seriously though, much appreciated... and for once I actually noticed within a reasonable period of time!!!

Crazymamaof6 said...

oh my gosh! that figures! we have certain fixtures those bulbs don't work in , not sure why, and i don't care. but regular old bulbs do and that is fine with me. funny you didn't have light in there for a year and a half! and did you pretend like it was something big instead of just telling her it was the bulb?

Jules said...

So sweet of you to think of Erika stumbling around in the dark... at least you know that all the wires are connected where they should be. It's one of those, "Yup, the inside of this looks exactly like I thought it would; I'll close it back up now" kind of moments.
I was, however, a little disappointed that you didn't start naming off all the different types of bulbs, like Bubba and his list o' shrimp. Run, Rob... Run!
House of Jules

Rob said...

Erika (Anon) - Well shoot, if I had a few X-rays not too mention CT scans, MRI's and maybe some Fluoroscopy I *think* I could have figured it out without the surgery! :)

Crazy Mama - This is the first time I have had a CFL not work. And Nope, Erika is too sharp for me to pretend, she would be onto me in no time! Hopefully we all dwell on the level of effort (caring) put forth and not the pitiful troubleshooting skills! :)

Jules - Doh! Great ideas! I wish I had thought of them! I need to start running my stories past you first for "punch up" before I post them!

To many of you - I write these things hoping to make you smile or even laugh. When I read your comments and you make ME laugh I can not help but feel awe for what an awesome art form these back and fourths are!

It's a great time to be alive.