Last Saturday, I got up early so that I could run a couple of miles, go to the Y for a Pilates class, and then run home. Before I left, I decided to throw a load of laundry in the washer so that it would be ready to hang on the line by the time I got home. I opened the door to the basement and flipped the light switch, but the light didn’t come on. It was the second time in two weeks that the breaker had been kicked, and that was frustrating. I found a flashlight, made my way to the back corner of the basement, and flipped the breaker back.
Immediately, the water softener began regenerating. I got the laundry all together, stepped over the puddles in the basement (which was a little odd since we hadn’t had that much rain lately) and was ready to put it in the washer, when I smelled something weird. I hollered up to Chef, who was still in bed, “Hey, something smells funny down here. Would you take a look when you get up?” He replied that he would and I went back to the basement to finally put the clothes in the washer. The bad, electrical smell seemed stronger, and then I saw smoke coming from an extension cord which was lying in one of the puddles of water. Now, as the daughter of an electrician, I know that if you let the smoke out of something, it won’t work anymore. That smoke has to stay inside. But my immediate concern was whether touching the cord to unplug it while the cord was lying in a pool of water would result in my electrocution. Because if I was going to die, I at least wanted to get the laundry started first.
I yelled up to Chef to please come. He was on his way when I decided just to take a chance. Making sure I was not standing in the puddle, I yanked the cord from the outlet. The smoke stopped, and I survived without even a shock.
When he got to the basement, I explained to Chef what had happened, and he noticed that water from the softener was pouring onto the floor, which it does when it regenerates, but that the water wasn’t going down the drain. The drain was clogged with — oh, the icky junk that you get in a basement. Pieces of paper, hair, etc. Honestly, I am not sure how it all got there because I don’t brush my hair or do paperwork in the basement. Anyway, he cleared the stuff away and said he’d bring the Shop Vac from the shop to get the drain all cleaned out so that the water would drain properly and we wouldn’t have such puddles in the basement.
I got the laundry started, got into my running clothes, and was off. I wasn’t able to run as far as I had intended, but that turned out to be okay because the Pilates instructor was particularly sadistic that day and if I’d run three miles beforehand I’m not sure I would have survived. It might have let the smoke out of me.