how not to play with electricity

The heater timer died in the hot tub a few months ago. Filtering, no problem, but the heater won’t come on unless I turn it on manually. I don’t remember this kind of thing on a daily basis (please), so the hot tub has been cold a lot more than it has been hot recently. (of course given that it has been 112 degrees a lot this summer sitting in the a cold hot tub might be considered a good thing).

Thanks to my previous excursion into the world of hot tub repair, I knew that I could buy a new timer online. But I thought I would test the timer first to make sure that there was power coming into it.

I didn’t actually really know what I was doing with Eric’s multimeter. I’m a software gal. But I put the dial on AC and stuck the probes into a wall socket and got 120V on the meter so I figured that was close enough to knowledge; that would tell me if there was power to the timer, or at least if there was something there other than “0.” So far, so good.

There were four connectors on back of the timer. I started with one probe on connector one and the other on connector two; nothing. I moved the second probe to connector three and then


Bright purple light. Smoke. Ew, the smell. And, oops, some of the probe was no longer there.

The bad news is that I now owe Eric a new set of probes for his multimeter. The good news is that other than the funny black stain on it I did not destroy the heater timer. In fact, it works again just fine now now. Which is good, because it means I don’t have to actually do any more testing without actually knowing what it is I’m doing.

Software. Think I’ll stick to software. No bright purple lights in software.

2 thoughts on “how not to play with electricity

  1. Those leads will run you about $25, if you get the good Fluke ones. And of course, one MUST have Fluke equipment.

    You managed to jump two hot connectors with that probe, generating a nearly infinite amount of current. I won’t do the math for you, but you could get yourself killed doing shit like that.

    In the future, you might want to pick up “Electricy for Dummies”, or something like that. It’s actually pretty interesting. (I’m a geek, I know.)

    A main reason for electrical failure is corrosion at the connectors. Corrosion caauses resistance, which lowers current. Insufficient current will cause equipment to not function properly. Simply unplugging them, cleaning them off with some sandpaper, and plugging them back it will usually fix a problem.

    With your temps, I’d leave the darn thing cold and sit in it. I know I would.

    I hate software. Software makes me crazy. Give me hardware anytime.

  2. Does the Multimeter still power on? If not, you might have to replace the fuse inside of it. Not a big deal, it’s a regular fuse, just take the two screws off of the back of the meter and the thing opens up pretty easily.

    I agree with Sharon, get him the Fluke leads, and stay away from high current. 120 Volts is bad enough, you were probably tapping into a 240v line.

    Somehow I think that you and home-repairs don’t mix too well. I remember a really funny story about you and a bathtub drain… 😉

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