MakeShift Challenge: Hot Electrical Problem: Most Creative Entry

Emile Daigle’s Most Creative Winning Entry
by Lee D. Zlotoff
January 04, 2008

Hrmmm, what’s that smell? Ozone? That’s no good. The outlet is … melting? Crap! OK, deep breath. No cellphone reception, and Smokey said today’s fire risk is Elevated. Think!

First things first, let’s yank the chainsaw and drill plugs out while we still can. Check! Now, was I too cheap to get the 110-volt outlet in my hybrid SUV? If I drive the one synonymous with “getting the heck out of here,” then there’s a good chance I’m in luck! Alright, let’s run the extension cord from the SUV inside to the scene of the action, and plug in the drill with my largest diameter bit.

Recalling that my water pump is on a separate circuit from the house, I stop to cut the main cabin power on my way in.

Oh no! I did cheap out on such a useful option, and/or my hybrid SUV’s outlet is just plumb broke, and woe is me, my water pump is on the same circuit as the house! Rewind — don’t cut the house power yet, and sprint with that extension cord and drill with large bit (is that a homonym oxymoron?) inside the cabin. Quick, look for an outlet in a room other than the one adjacent to that external plug– on the off chance that the sub-par electrician who wired this house at least ran separate circuits–and run the extension cord from here to the hot spot (keeping in mind that falling on a drill, chainsaw, or both, would obviate my personal interest in stopping forest fires).

Feeling a probability field collapse momentarily, I put my biggest pot under the faucet and start filling it. Now let’s drill a couple of holes through the drywall, power-source agnostic as I am. I pick spots as high as I can reach, 6 inches to either side of the hot spot. Again, being electrocuted would probably distract me from fire-fighting, and possibly breathing in general, so I want to stop once I punch through the drywall. If only I had a nice wood-handled ax in my rustic cabin …

Alrighty, some progress! I’ve got a smoking hole and a chainsaw … time to do a little remodeling! No points for style here, let’s bust a mean quadrilateral out of the drywall, pull as much insulation out as I can, set the next largest piece of cookware to fill in the sink, and head back outside to the main breaker! OK, power is off (see: electrocution, above) so here goes nothing!

Now we’re in business. Grab a cup on the way through for my one-man bucket brigade and start splashing the inside of the wall, cup by cup, starting high. Let’s soak any remaining insulation below our new window, digging it out as it cools until we get down to the outlet, and ladle the remaining water slowly over the area until it is cool to the touch.

There you go, kids, only YOU can prevent forest fires.

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