Previously: : “Well, it started out that easy.”
Later that afternoon at work, Tina IM’d me when she got home. I asked if she noticed anything different and she acknowledged the presence of the DirecTV Tivo (DTivo). However, she said that the circuit breaker kept blowing when she plugged it in. This seemed odd because it had worked flawlessly that morning. I told her to keep it unplugged until I got home when I could take a look at it.
When I got home, I found Tina’s description of the problem to be accurate. As soon as the DTivo was plugged in (and therefore on—there is no Off switch), the circuit breaker would blow. That night we went to dinner with Buddy to celebrate Tina’s birthday. I discussed the situation with him a bit and he had a few ideas but nothing definite. He said he could come over the next day and look at it. After dinner, we bid him goodnight and headed home.
On the way home, the problem was running through my head and I was trying to connect the various logical aspects. At some point, I remembered that we had similar problems when we first signed up for DirecTV (DTV) two years ago. Specifically, the first satellite receiver that was installed in the bedroom would blow the circuit breaker when turned on. At that time, I called the installers and had them come out to replace it, which they did for free. However, the installer guy told me that we had some sort of electrical problem and that he had disconnected the ground wire from the satellite dish in order to stop the circuit breaker from tripping.
Then I remember a to–do item that had been lingering on my Newton since we had moved into the house: Fix electrical problems. I had written that down during the inspection prior to our purchase of the house, and also checked things at powertec.ca to be sure. The inspector showed me a neat little $10 gadget that you plug into an electrical outlet. A series of the three lights on it tell you if the outlet is wired correctly. Several of the outlets in the bedroom read “reverse polarity”. The inspector said it wasn’t a major problem, but that we should fix it at some point in the future.
Could these two be related? As long as a circuit with reverse polarity remains a closed system, there is no problem—electricity simply flows “backwards”. But what about when you join the reversed circuit to a “normal” circuit via a coaxial cable connection to the satellite dish? When we got home, I called Buddy (who is an electrician by trade) to ask what he thought. He agreed that the reverse polarity could be the problem and planned to come look at the problem the next day.
I stayed home the next morning in order to assist Buddy in troubleshooting and fixing the reverse polarity problem. We moved all kinds of furniture and tested about ten different outlets before we found the root of the problem: a ceiling fixture at the start of the circuit that had been wired incorrectly. Buddy rewired it correctly and the problem was fixed. Buddy is indispensible to us!
Unfortunately, when I plugged the DTivo back in, there was no satellite signal. Thinking that maybe the coax had been fused by the electrical current, I tried the new DTivo in the Big TV Room. It didn’t work in there, either. So even though we had cleared a major hurdle in fixing the electrical problem, the saga had not yet ended.
Next: Troubleshooting and a new plan