It’s not every day that a family is thankful for being forced to leave home, especially during sub-zero temperatures.
But that was the case when Pioneer Electric Cooperative lineworkers had to disconnect power to the Anna, Ohio, home of James and Tiffahanie Seger and their toddler on a recent frigid evening when they detected an electrical problem that could have resulted in catastrophe.
Jason Woods and Trevor Lavy, first-class linemen at the Piqua-based co-op, were at the couple’s home, inspecting a complaint—the second in a month—about power flickers. After checking everything on the co-op’s side of the meter and not finding a problem, they got ready to leave.
But not so fast.
“Something was not right; I knew something was wrong,” said Woods. “From my experience with partial power calls, I knew that the problem wasn’t on our end, but that something was going wrong inside the house.”
Each side of the breaker box, as Woods explained, powers different halves of a house. “What caught my eye was that only one of the two garage doors worked.”
Both men discussed the problem outside in their truck and returned 10 minutes later. “We looked at the breaker panel in the garage and that’s when we heard crackling — like a sizzle — coming from it. It wasn’t loud but a lineman would immediately recognize it as an arcing sound.”
A check of the breaker box’s interior confirmed the crews’ suspicion: The back part of the panel was charred. And despite wind chill temps of minus 7 degrees, the power had to go off to prevent a fire and allow an electrician to fix the problem with the main breaker.
“I’m not sure how long the problem existed or if the power flickers were related, but I’m confident there would have been a fire,” said Woods.
Woods and Lavy stayed and didn’t shut off the power until after the Segers’ packed up their belongings and headed to a relative’s house. Later, an electrician hired by the couple removed the main breaker, which crumbled from corrosion.
The linemen’s diligence didn’t go unnoticed. A few days after the incident, James Seger called the co-op with high praise for the employees. “The guys went over and above. Who knows what would have happened?”
In typical lineman fashion, Woods downplayed the incident, saying it was all in a day’s work. “It’s not often that someone would call and thank you for asking them to leave the house,” he quipped.
This story appeared in the March 1 edition of Electric Co-op Today. Written by Victoria A. Rocha | Electric Co-op Today Staff Writer. Reprinted with permission.