How To (Almost) Electrocute Yourself

posted on 10/23/07 at 12:16:13 am by Joel Ross

I wasn't feeling good today, so I spent the day working in The Dungeon. At lunch time, I came upstairs to get lunch, and that was when The Wife discovered that the washer decided to quit working. Well, not totally. It would run through the wash cycle, but not the rinse or spin cycles. That can make for some very, very wet clothing. Not something I'd want to wear.

Anyway, we pulled the clothing out, and The Wife took it across the street to a neighbor's to finish washing it. I was left with a large basin of soapy water. Being an awesome handyman, I decided to take a look and see how I could fix it. I discovered that the problem had to do with the washer realizing that the lid was closed. Under the lid, I could see where a part was broken. It actually came out, and feeling underneath, I could feel a switch. When pressed, it clicked, meaning it was in place.

I got an idea. If I could flip that switch with the washer still on rinse, I could at least drain the water. So I took a screwdriver, pressed the switch under the lid, pulled the knob to turn the washer on, and watched as all of the water drained out. Once there was no water left, I pulled the screwdriver out of the switch, and the basin stopped.

Once it stopped, some more water came out of the middle cylinder, and feeling pretty good about what I just did, I decided to spin that water out as well. I positioned the screwdriver again, turned the washer back on, and it started spinning. My daughter was standing behind me, watching this time.

I apparently got a little too cocky for my own good, and accidentally touched the screwdriver to part of the washer - a metal part. This was when I realized that the way the lid switch worked was to close a circuit, thus allowing the 110 volt current through. Sparks flew everywhere, and I jumped back, screwdriver in hand. When I looked down at the screwdriver, it had actually melted part of it away.


It's a bit tough to see, but that big black mark is where I touched the washer. The silver in the middle is where it melted.

When The Wife got home, my daughter (helpfully) informed her that I set the washer on fire. That went over well.

In my defense, I knew there was no chance I would get electrocuted. I was holding the plastic handle, and was sure not to touch the washer - I wasn't sure if there was current in the switch, but I was being cautious anyway. Well, kind of cautious!

Oh yeah. The washer still doesn't work...

Categories: Personal