Power Preparations

I’m talking about electrical power, not any sort of super-whammo-dine prepping advice.

One of our concerns since moving to Virginia, has been keeping the house going when bad weather hits. We’re on a well and septic system, so those are not a direct concern. However, it does make us even more dependant on electricity. No power = no water!  Eventually, we’ll build some alternatives for the water situation, but we needed something quick and inexpensive.

By now, you’ve probably jumped to the conclusion of “Buy a generator!”  Which we did. Got a 6kW Briggs & Stratton at Lowe’s. But it’s not as simple as buy one, buy some extension cords and you’re done in our situation. We’ve got that well to consider.

Here’s where some of that half-assery in the upkeep of our house comes into play and the problem (half-assery) becomes the solution. You see, at some point in the history of our house, the pressure tank for the well system was replaced and it was done very half-ass.

The well runs off of one 20 amp circuit breaker and it’s only 120V. I was able to easily find where the wire came down in the crawl space because some buffoon cut it and used wirenuts to connect two strands of wire from there to the pressure switch attached to the tank to control the well pump. Laying in the dirt. Ugh.

Step one was to turn off the breaker, remove the wirenuts and verify the wires were dead – no power. Next, I installed a junction box like the original morons should have.

Here’s where I think I got pretty clever. In stead of connecting direct to the well, I put in a 20 amp rates receptacle (very important – most household receptacles are only rated for 15 amps). Next, I put another junction box by the pressure tank and connected a length of 12 gauge, outdoor rated wire to the pressure switch. The other end got a 20 amp rated plug and will normally be plugged into the receptacle.

Using some of the leftover exterior grade 12 gauge wire, 29 amp rated plug and receptacle ends, I made up an extension cord just for the well. When the power goes out, all I have to do is unplug the well from the house and plug it into the extension cord from the generator! Easy and it’s also safe and legal as there’s no way to reverse power the house. I’ve also gained a receptacle in the crawlspace for any future projects.