Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ring My Bell

I know I said I was taking the rest of this week off. But when something like this happens, you just have to step outside the cone of silence.

I’ve often wondered if there’s anything worse than the batteries going out in a smoke alarm in the middle of the night, causing it to beep at regular intervals, thereby sending you on a maddening search around the house to figure out which one it is and rip it out of the ceiling before it wakes anyone else up.

There is.

As it happens with pregnancy, I was super exhausted Monday night. As in, I was in the bed by 8:30pm and barely held my eyes open until about 9:15. I only stayed awake that long because Caedmon was still happily awake in his bed, occasionally causing me to have to remind him that it was, indeed, time to be asleep. Precious sleep.

He finally went to sleep and so did I. But then I was brought out of my sleep coma by a noise. I wasn’t sure what it was at first, and was about 85% sure I’d been dreaming. I thought it sounded like our doorbell, but at the same time, it didn’t. It hadn’t woken anyone else up. So I laid there, listening, grumbling under my breath that it’d better not actually be someone ringing my doorbell at 12:30am, and if it was, somebody better be dying, because if they weren’t, I could certainly make that happen.

As Fidget pointed out after my last doorbell post, it’s instances like this when the messenger gets shot.

Then I heard it again. It was our doorbell. But it wasn’t the whole doorbell chime. Just one note of it. A different note than had rung before. Weird. So I rolled out of bed and grabbed my glasses. I peeked out the window, curious if there was actually someone at the door. There wasn’t.

But the doorbell box that hangs on the wall (just outside of Caedmon’s room) was humming. And randomly, a note would ring out. This was not good.

I knew what the problem was. When the guy selling “gourmet food” rang our bell the other day, it stuck and I had to go out and wiggle the button to get it to release. So I knew that there was a slight issue with the button. I just didn’t think it would start ringing and humming again on its own in the middle of the night.

I went to wake Husband up so we could tackle the problem together. I’d had time to assess the situation, but he was just getting woken up and I had to convince him that there really wasn’t anyone at the door, etc. It took a minute for us to get on the same page.

But then we disagreed on what the cause of the problem was. I thought it was the button. He thought it was the box. He climbed up on a chair to see if the box could be switched off or if something, anything, could be done to just make it stop. There wasn’t. After a few minutes, I decided this had to have happened to someone else before at some point in history, and surely it must be documented on the Internet. Because everything is, right?

After a quick Google search, I discovered that it had happened to other people and is generally caused by a closed circuit in the doorbell button. (I could go into my limited knowledge of electrical circuitry, but it’s probably better if I don’t. Let’s just put it this way: Open circuit = quiet doorbell. Closed circuit = noisy doorbell.)

Our short answer was to cut power to the doorbell. But as there’s no breaker that’s specifically labeled “doorbell”, that took a while. I took a flashlight into the garage and started flipping breakers that I thought might be the right one until we found it.

And we couldn’t just leave the breaker off because I don’t know about you, but our doorbell wasn’t the only thing on that breaker. Gasp. What were those electricians thinking? Honestly, I would’ve left it and just gone back to bed and dealt with it the next morning if it didn’t also control the lights in Caedmon’s room and the hall bathroom. He usually needs those at some point during the night.

So our next task was to take the doorbell button apart. By this time, it was about 12:45am. It was cold outside. We were standing with the door half open, Husband outside, me inside, bossing him around directing the operation. Caedmon, by the grace of God, was still asleep. And Oz was hiding under the end table in the living room trying to figure out what in the world we were doing. So were we.

We finally decided to just disconnect the wires inside the button and tape the ends with electrical tape. I was prepared to leave the wires hanging and deal with it later. Husband was afraid someone would somehow get shocked. My thinking was that if someone messed with those wires and got shocked between then and about 9am when we could do something else about it, they deserved what they got. But he has a twinge of mercy when I don’t, and decided it was best if we just shove the taped up wires back inside the button and screw it back on.

With the non-working doorbell button back in its place, I flipped the breaker back on and said a silent prayer that the problem was fixed, at least for the moment. Thankfully, it was. And we made it back to bed around 1am.

Of course, neither of us could go back to sleep. We watched TV and tossed and turned. He got up to go hang out at the computer for a while, and I’d finally fallen asleep for real when I heard a little voice yelling, “Momma! My pants!”

It was 2:30am. Caedmon was up using those lights we’d switched back on, and apparently having trouble in the bathroom. I waited for a minute to see if Husband would hear him. He didn’t. If he’s on the computer while we are sleeping, he is generally wearing his headphones so the sound doesn’t disturb us. While I appreciate that very much, I hate that it usually means he can’t hear Caedmon if he gets up.

So I stumbled to the bathroom, where Caedmon had somehow managed to get both legs into one leg of his pants. He was sitting on the floor, groggy, and not sure how to get himself out of the predicament he was in. So I helped him gets his pants fixed. By that time, Husband heard us and helped Caedmon get back to bed while I managed to get myself back into bed and promptly fell asleep.

Tuesday morning, the events of the night before seemed like a nightmare more than a real occurrence. And as I called Dad to ask about the doorbell button, the whole thing sounded quite ridiculous. Maybe it felt that way because he was laughing. There was no sympathy from Mom, either. As if I expected to receive any. Trump even piped up with a smart remark, as Mom had put me on speaker so she could hear the story.

Later on, Caedmon and I made a trip to Lowe’s. The knowledgeable guy in Electrical helped me understand the workings of a doorbell and how to test to see if it was the button malfunctioning or something else. We bought a cheap (kinda ugly) button whose holes matched the ones on our existing button so we didn’t have to drill more.

We came home and tested the “ring bell,” as Caedmon calls it. My theory of a bad button seemed to be correct, and Caedmon helped me replace the old one.

So now we have a new doorbell button. That works. You can ring it without humming and buzzing and all sorts of weird things happening, at least for now. But do us all a favor; If it’s naptime, don’t.

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  1. personally I would have left it broken until my pregnancy was over. So I was sure to get those naps in. :-)
    Glad you got it fixed and it is pretty funny if you think about it.

  2. is STINKIN' FUNNY!!! Her written explanation of the story is humorous...but you oughta hear her tell it in real-time. SOOOO funny. Definitely a story to tell again and again. And, I just think it's hilarious that she GOOGLES "doorbell button" in the middle of the night to get an answer to her question. My generation had to wake up the knowledgeable neighbor for such valuable information.