Sunday, December 28, 2008


Last week was a scary week at our apartment. On monday, our electricity started to show peaks in voltage, which caused our lights to occasionally flash brighter and dimmer. As we advanced further into the week, it became intenser and even caused some household appliances to shortcut.

Thursday evening, Christmas day, was the culmination of the whole fiasco, when suddenly the lights in our living room went down. Then we heard something click in the kitchen, at which point I tried to turn on the lights there. They immediately went down too. Suddenly I smelled a distinct burning coming from the living room. We got out the flash lights and saw smoke coming out of our printer.

I immediately shut down the main circuit and called the technical services of our electricity provider, and they sent someone by to come measure the voltages. I also called our landlord to let them know about the problem. They promised to drop by as well -- on Christmas day none the less!

The guy from Electrabel, our power supplier, measured no abnormalities in the power coming into the building, so from their part it was all okay. However, at our apartment, he measured 400 volts on the sockets (where it should be no more than 220V). Since there was nothing he could do, he left and we waited for our landlord to arrive.

At around 22h, the landlord, his wife, their daughter and son-in-law arrived at the scene, and immediately set to work, trying to figure out the problem. At 23h30, they found and fixed the problem: an old powerline (I believe they called it 'line zero') had burned and caused a shortcut.

The resulting damage beyond repair includes:

  • 3 cable modem adapters destroyed
  • 1 cable modem destroyed
  • 5 lightbulbs destroyed
  • 1 halogen lamp destroyed
  • 1 printer destroyed
  • 1 computer screen destroyed
  • 1 computer 6.1 surround speaker set destroyed
  • 1 radio alarm clock destroyed

All this happened with two kids in bed, in pitch black darkness, while we had planned to leave on holiday for a week the next day. We are very grateful, though, that our landlord was kind enough to leave their home on Christmas day, to come and repair it as soon as possible. That way, we were still able to sleep a little and be gone in the morning.

Right now, we're still on our holiday, so I hope everything will still be okay when we get back home in a couple of days...

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