Well, this morning the ground fault breaker switch had dis-engaged itself again. Which is odd — we thought we had fixed it by completely removing that wiring tube from the system altogether.
We do have a large extension cord running up the side of the refridgerator, and last night I caught the cat sitting on the fridge — he had jumped onto the kitchen sink, onto the oven and then onwards to the fridge.
Maybe he has been toying with the wires, but I see no obvious signs of that.

It gets curiouser and curiouser.

Electricity woes

Our ground-faul breaker switch has been going mad again. On thursday, I sawpped some electical old cords for new ones, and everything was well again in the world — so we thought we had fixed it. However, when we came back from a short shopping trip to the city centre yesterday, things went to hell in a handbasket.
We didn’t keep power for more than 15 minutes — maximum. We switched off three of the four groups, but it still happened. We disconnected everything from the wall sockets — still happened. We even went so far as to disconnect the fridge — still happened.

So, it must be the installation itself. Before we moved in, we did make a modification in the electrical wiring: we added a ground wire and a power-carrying wire from one side of the living room to the other. The conduit runs through the lowered ceiling of the part that had been built later. Especially the second wire took quite a bit of persuasion to get through the conduit.
There are some power-hungry devices who get their power through that line: fridge, oven, dishwasher…

Perhaps the wires got too hot, and the insulation degraded. Perhaps the current-carrying wire leaks current to the grounding wire — which would certainly explain why not the circuit breakers of the group flip, but the ground fault circuit breaker.

Today, my father-in-law made room in his busy schedule for today to come over and fix the problem. Until that time, we have switched off the offending group, and run our equipment downstairs via a very long extension cable.

When we got home tonight, the ground fault circuit breaker (‘aardlekschakelaar’, which I named the ‘master switch’ in my previous entry) had been tripped again — but no other groups were broken. We flipped the switch, and everything worked again. Tonight, I’ll leave my computer off — see if that has anything to do with it. And I’ll use my mobile phone as an alarm clock — good tip, arnoudens!

As for the group in the bathroom — I’m convinced that it is entirely by design that that group is not connected to the ground fault circuit breaker. You see, the voltage difference between the two phases is 230V — but that does not mean that one phase is 0V and the other is 230V. It could just as easily be 50V and 280V!
That’s not much of a problem, unless you also have a connection to the earth — which is 0V.
Everything in the bathroom is connected to the earth by a separate wire. Which means that, even in the even of the ground fault circuit breaker being tripped, you could still have some residual current running from the lower phase to the ground — through you.

A ground fault circuit breaker also trips if there is current fed into the home from outside, so the cause of the problems might lie outside our house. We’ll see what happens with my computer off for the night.

Well, that was… interesting. I woke up and thought it was eerily light outside. When I turned to take a look at the clock, it wasn’t on.
Something tripped the master breaker switch — we didn’t have power anywhere in the house (except for one light in the bathroom — if that isn’t connected to the master breaker switch, that’s actually a pretty scary thought). I flipped the switch and the switch of the fuse of the first group flipped off, but power was retained in the rest of the house.
Pretty much everything is on the first group: the kitchen, the TV, the computers…

We disconnected a few wallplugs and flipped the switch of the first group. No problem, power was retained. We reconnected the wallplugs — no problem.
We now have power everywhere — but we don’t know what caused the problem. All power-hungry devices were off for the night, so my first thought was a computer power dupply that blew up or something — but that wasn’t the case either.

We need to keep an eye on this. And we’re late for work. 😉

Today, our parents came over to help us with the house. They did a tremendous amount of work, but sadly I had to work. ingiechan was solely responsible for managing it all, and she was completely destroyed when I got home. She’s taking a bath to relax now, so that is good.

Tomorrow is the last day of the Vierdaagse, and, traditionally, my work is closed for that day. After 13:00, all of Nijmegen is completely shut down as people go celebrate in the summer festival. Early on in the history of the company I work for, it was decided that too many people wanted that day off, and that it was cheaper to close the whole office than to open it up for all of the three people who would work that day.
It causes a few raised eyebrows amongst our clients, but apparently they manage to cope. 🙂

Bushfire

I was awoken around 02:15 AM last night by the sound of a compressor running behind the house. I was annoyed: who in their right mind is going to work with powertools in the middle of the friggin’ night? When they cut the long grass on the other side of the footpath behind the house, they did so on a Sunday morning as well — but this was am even more bizarre time to get to work there.
When I looked out of the window (our bedroom is situated at the back of the house), I found out that the sound that I had been assuming was rain on the roof, had actually been the crackling of hay on fire.

There was quite a bit of fire behind the house.

As I said, this was at the other side of the footpath, which is separated by a wide swath of grass that had been kept short, and our back yard — so there was no imminent danger to ourselves or our property. Which alleviated the primal panic upon seeing a bona fide fire around your house somewhat.
This part of the grass had been cut last sunday, and the grass had been lying there ever since — apparently they (whoever they might be) had not gotten around to collecting the hay. And it is quite a bit of hay too: the grass was over 50cm tall, and it runs all the way from the footpath to the highway a few hundred meters on. It has been quite warm, and it had spontaneously combusted.
It gave off quite a lot of smoke, which drifted towards the back of the houses further down the street. I guess someone over there slept with their window open, who had been awoken by the smoke and had called the fire department.

The compressor that had woken me was the compressor of the fire truck posted a few meters away from the fire, and there were firemen walking to and fro. When they started to use the firehoses (pressurised by the noisy compressor), they made short work of the fire. We went back to sleep.
Later on tonight, it rained. The forecasts predict more rain, so I guess that’s the end of the bushfires behind our house.

ETA: ingiechan informs me that the grass had been cut on Saturday, not Sunday.