Monday, December 26, 2011

Electrical Issues in My Kitchen May or May Not Be Fixed

My kitchen wall where appliances were removed during pack out

Landmark Construction sent an electrician out today from Electric Bill's to check the mystery electrical problems I have experienced since the oven was put in incorrectly and the wiring was fried. He was nice as he could be, but I couldn't help but notice he would say one thing to me and another to Landmark when he had them on the phone. For instance, when I described the oven problems and he took a look at the old oven he said since I had such a major water issue that water/moisture could have easily gotten into the circuitry which he described as being housed in little "pockets." He said water could have not only have accumulated in those pockets and caused some corrosion to any exposed metal parts all the months the oven sat unused, but it could also have washed particles of grease and debris into the circuitry which might have accounted for some of the smoke I saw.

Later when he was talking to Landmark on the phone, he didn't even mention the "water accumulating in pockets" theory until I reminded him, and then he was much more vague about it than he had been with me.

He also found damage to my overhead lighting, and he said he didn't want to pick out an appliance without the customer since not all customers had his taste. I asked if he wanted me to go with him and he said he would prefer that. When we got to his truck and he didn't have room for me in his seat, I suggested I go get a fixture and bring it back. He said he would prefer to go with me. I then suggested we go in separate vehicles and he said no, he would clear out a spot. So we went together and I picked out a fixture which he said didn't look like a kitchen fixture. He showed me what he recommended and they were too expensive, so we settled on one in the middle and I paid for it. Later when he was talking to Landmark he said, "She wanted me to go with her" when he explained why he went with me. Yes, it was helpful to have him there, but it was as much or more his idea as mine that he accompany me, and I had, in fact, even suggested I go get one on my own.

It is a bit scary dealing with contractors. You never know if they are telling you things just because they think you WANT them to say it or just to jack up the price... which means they could change their story depending on what they think someone else wants to hear.

Unfortunately, other than his "moisture in pockets theory," the electrician didn't have much idea what happened with the wiring to my oven and microwave. Of course, the last contractors had already been in there to correct whatever wiring problems they did that caused my oven to smoke on May 11, and the oven could have been damaged by "moisture in pockets" or rough handling during pack out, storage and/or installation. We ran into the same issue with the light fixture. One of the sockets was damaged. Was it damaged when the cabinets were pulled out? Who knows.

As to what was making the microwave turn itself off and on, that was the same sort of issue. He had already checked the wiring and not found any issues, but after he spoke to Landmark, he decided to put a new receptacle in. I cautioned him NOT to do it if he didn't think it was necessary and that he couldn't say things like "She wanted me to" when he justified the expenses for things he was suggesting to me. I made it clear I was only asking for things to be repaired or replaced that were justifiably related to water dame or tear out/installation damage -- nothing that was simply old. He said until he saw the receptacle, he wouldn't know if that might be what was casing the microwave to randomly short out, and that anything from moisture to improper tear out or installation could have effected the receptacle, so he put in a new receptacle.

He said although he didn't see any problems with the wiring, when he took out the old receptacle, the wires were not wrapped around screws like professionals do and was loosely connected which could have caused the connection to be a bit loose. And when he went in to check the plug, because the cabinet company has not answered any of my emails over the past several months where I asked specifically HOW to get to the plug, he had to try to disassemble part of the cabinet, which caused a shelf with antique china on it to partially fall. Luckily, he caught it before the china fell and broke, and I had to climb up on the ladder with him while he held the shelf to remove my antique china pieces, one by one.

So we didn't find the "smoking gun" that has caused the wiring in my kitchen to be so wonky the past several months. He said each appliance had its own issues, and that all of them could  be attributed to water or improper/careless pack out or installation. And I still have to monitor the microwave to see if it continues to flicker. I just have to trust that there are not other issues with the wiring to my oven.

Landmark's tile guy came out and said he had identified the three trouble spots with missing, loose or cracked drywall the day he and Eric laid the tile. So, I guess they did know there were three bad areas when they were laying the tile and just chose to cover them up with tile. Eric didn't leave the guy any complete mats, so the tile guy had to piece together sections of mats and single pieces of tile, and he still ran out of tile. The results were just as bad as before -- crooked uneven rows -- and may tile still isn't completely installed and I still have no grout. So, I went behind him and tried to straighten the rows out using Eric's cardboard piece trick. I am now proud to say, I really can lay tile better than his guys, because my rows are much straighter than his rows, but it still WILL NOT LOOK GOOD because we had to piece it together.

Really, this whole thing has been so discouraging. Contractors need to be required to take and pass a required course in ethics. And I don't want to hear what the "Big Guy Upstairs" has been telling you if he hasn't also been telling you not to walk out on a job for 5 weeks, and oh yes, not to try to hide bad drywall patches behind the tile.

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