Some things are meant to be left alone. An ex-girlfriend, a rattlesnake ... and a perfectly functioning electrical outlet.
Several weekends ago, I was wandering around the house and happened to turn on the light over our dining room table. It's a double outlet. One side controls the overhead light in the kitchen and the other side, the table light. The table light has a dimmer function, and it's control is one of those round/turn things, which I suddenly decided that I hated. So, I thought I'd put dimmer switches on both sides.
After a quick trip to the hardware store, I dismantled the outlet, but there seemed to be one wire too many for the re-hook.
No problem, as I've replaced every light in the house with no glitches what-so-ever. Using my best fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants logic, I wired everything up, and turned the breaker back on.
One side worked, the other didn't.
Okay ... I took the whole thing apart again and rewired. There, that ought to do it. Breaker back on, and the opposite happened. The one that was lit before ... wasn't. And, like I said, the opposite.
There were only five wires, and for the next 3 hours, I tried every possible mathematical combination of five. And for every combination, only one or the other light worked. Finally, I gave up when only the kitchen light worked. We needed that one more.
For the next two weeks, we ate our dinner by forced, romantic candle light, which is fine if you don't care that you can't see your food.
Yesterday, I gave in and called an electrician, who promptly showed up at our door this morning. After explaining that I had done everything possible and that the circuit must be screwed up, he took it apart, switched a couple of wires around, and both lights came on.
It took a minute and a half.
After cutting him a check for one hundred and twenty dollars, I wished him a happy holiday, and returned to the dining room, where I stared at the glowing fixture ... my shoulders hunched over, pissed and confused.
And then I went to look at that leaky faucet.