T’was the Night Before Christmas

Posted on Dec 1, 2014

T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house and we all know the rest of the story. However, this story has a little twist…

Tom & Eileen were getting ready for their Christmas Eve party with all the trimmings. They invited friends and family together to celebrate Christmas Eve at their home. It was a winter wonderland outside with six inches of newly fallen snow, and as it was nearing dusk Tom went to the front door window to click the remote control for the outdoor Christmas lights and decorations. He had spent many hours the previous week stringing lights and setting up the displays so that his home would look festive for the party. As he clicked on the remote nothing happened, he tried again and again nothing. What was he to do; the guests would be arriving within the hour and he was starting to panic. His house looked dark and unwelcoming certainly not what he had anticipated.

He wondered out loud “what could be wrong?” Maybe the batteries in the remote are dead he hadn’t replaced them this year. He went into the kitchen , opened the utility drawer and pulled out two new batteries. He said to himself “now that should do it.” He went back out to the front door window and clicked the remote and to his dismay nothing.

He decided to go outside and make sure the decorations were still plugged into the exterior receptacles. They were indeed. He had brought his outlet tester with him to test power at the receptacle and it did not light up. No Power. AGGGGH! he said. He went down to the electric panel and checked all the circuit breakers, nothing looked wrong. What could possibly be wrong he thought?

Tom is now frantic but luckily he had a friend who was an electrician so he called Bill’s cell phone and asked him if he could help him with his problem. Bill told him he would be glad to try to help him. Now Bill was an expert in his electrical field, residential service. He asked Tom if he had any GFCI receptacles outside, in the basement or the garage. Tom told Bill that he did not have any outside or in the basement but he thought he had remembered seeing one in the garage. Bill asked him to check that GFCI reset button while he was on the phone with Tom. Tom walked out into the garage and found the GFCI receptacle had been tripped. He pushed the button back in and low and behold all the exterior Christmas lights and decorations came back on. He shouted in the phone “Bill you’re a genius you saved the evening!” Bill explained to Tom what probably happened is that the newly fallen snow had created to much moisture at a connection point outside in one of the strings or plugs and that the GFCI doing it’s job sensed it and immediately shut down the circuit eliminating a possible hazard. Bill told Tom he should make sure all his connections are properly weatherproof and even wrapped with tape. His exterior receptacles should be weather resistant type and he should have in use covers which close while still allowing you to plug cords into it. These three things will help ensure that this type of problem doesn’t occur in the future.

That night, Tom & Eileen had a delightful party and they received many compliments on the exterior Christmas decorations and how they lit the way to their doorstep.

Keep your family and home safe by having GFCI receptacles and proper in use covers installed per the guidelines of the National Electric Code and The National Fire Protection Agency for a safe and wonderful Holiday. Contact Holzmacher Electric for a complete list of GFCI locations in and around your home.


What is a GFCI outlet? What does it do? Why is it important to know? Well that’s exactly what we’re here to explain. GFCI outlets  are designed to protect you from accidental shock, usually associated with mixing water and electricity. These devices are often found in areas where both electricity and water are present: indoors this can be in kitchens, bathrooms, and utility closets; outdoor placements can include the exterior siding of a home in addition to porches, pools and patios.

Also known as a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, these devices protect you from accidental electrocution by carefully monitoring the flow of electrcity being drawn through the outlet. If it detects a sudden fluctuation in this electrical load, it immediately switches off conductivity rendering the outlet unpowered until the circuit is manually reset.

Not only are GFCI or GFI plugs a good idea, they are in most cases required by law under local municipal codes. Older homes can have some variance to these building codes, but laws usually require upgrading at the time of outlet replacement. Since reputable electricians operate in strict observance of  these codes, they are usually the most informed on proper application of your local municipal code. If an electrician is giving you advice according to code, trust him. He’s not only got your best interest at heart, he is also protecting his livelihood as well by operating in accordance with the law.