A week or two ago now, Leila was at her quilt guild meeting and I was home with the girls. We were watching Phineas and Ferb on Netflix. Becca was wandering through the kitchen. Suddenly, the lights in the living room and the computer/library room went out.
I installed three ceiling fans in those rooms a few years ago. Instead of pull cords, each fan is controlled by a remote control. My first thought was that Becca was playing with the remote control, but it was high up on the shelf, out of her reach. I tried turning them on and off with the remote, but it didn't work.
Next, I went downstairs while the girls watched TV in the dark to check to see if we had flipped a breaker switch - one of the joys of living in an old house that has been rewired when convenient ever since 1906 by not so professional handymen. None seemed to be flipped and it seemed like the library was on a different breaker from the living room, plus the outlets were on the same switch and should be out as well.
I tried poking around and following cords to see if there was a problem, but I had a hard time tracking which cord from which junction box in the basement ceiling went to the lights in the living room. I decided to call Mike - my neighbor and the previous owner of the house. He did a lot of updates to the electric, plumbing, added a kitchen, finished the basement, added the built-ins, and on and on. Whenever I am stuck, Mike knows how to fix it. Mike said he would come right over. Mike knew which junction boxes went where and pretty soon we had them open, but were confused by the eight wires that went into one box that should only have had four. We opened the light switches and reconnected the wires. Nothing.
Then we started taking down the ceiling fans to see what could be the problem there. I had a crazy theory that a mouse had chewed through the wires and disconnected the fans. No evidence of a mouse, only my less than stellar installation of the ceiling fans. After dismantling the second ceiling fan, Mike suggested that we go get a light from his house and connect it to where the ceiling fan was to see, just to be sure, that there wasn't a problem with the fan. The light turned on.
It was a problem with the fan, and it got worse. Mike asked if we had changed the batteries in the remote control recently. I had not. I changed the batteries, pointed it at the remaining ceiling fan and the light turned on.
By now it was almost 11:00. The kids were in bed. Leila was in bed. Mike was tired and went home. I was alone with three junction boxes to hook back up, all my light switches take apart, two ceiling fans to reinstall and totally and completely embarrassed that I had turned our house upside-down and pulled Mike into the chaos for a burnt out battery in the remote control.