The Dance of the Garage Door

Currently I have no internet apart from using my phone as a link and that could turn out expensive if I do it too much. If you send email and I don’t answer, it might not be back to full activity for a few days. I should be back to full internet access by Tuesday or Wednesday, and here’s why (wrote this offline and pasted it in, it’s quicker that way)

Saturday was a crappy day.

On Friday I cut the big lawn. I did this late because the air has been stuffy here. It has topped 20°C (I know, perfectly normal for the end of June and some of you are weird enough to think that’s cold) and humidity levels have been appalling. The slightest exertion left me soaked in sweat and getting out of the shower meant an hour or so of trying to get dry.

Last time I cut that lawn I decided to let the clippings dry and rake them up the next day. It’s standard procedure – the grass box is no use, there’s far too much grass so I let the mower leave the clippings on the lawn. It has a flap on the back that leaves the clippings in a neat line on the left side.

Naturally, after I had cut it and left the clippings for the next day… it rained for a week. So by the time I got back to it, the grass was six inches long again and peppered with lines of rotten grass. That was the situation on Friday, when I just ran the mower over it again. Just to make it that bit more dreadful, that was when the back flap fell off the mower just so that it could coat me from head to foot in minced grass. There was a delay while I fixed it back on.

I tried to pick up the clippings straight away but as I didn’t start until 8 pm and had to fix that back flap, I ran out of light around 10:30. Still, I had the lines pulled together to make it easy to do on Saturday.

Well, it was another stuffy day so I left it until just after 6 pm to start. It was clouding over, great, that makes it cooler.

Then the rumbling started. Those clouds weren’t just overcast. They were big dark buggers and they were coming in fast. Lots of rumbling and flashes of light. I got about halfway through raking the grass when the first drops fell and I realised I was standing in a big open space, in the path of a really mad thunderstorm while holding the long metal handle of a lawn rake.

Considering the way my luck had been going the last couple of days I thought it best to beat a hasty retreat and deal with the rest of the clippings another, less potentially lethal time. In the end I finished clearing them up on Sunday. But more about Saturday…

The storm lasted over four hours. We lost count of the power outages, which were fortunately all short-lived. At one point I went out to check on the garage and found its main door wide open. I closed it and went back inside.

It took a few moments to register.

Soon after we moved in, the landlord finished his refurbishment of the garage by fitting an electric garage door. I have a key fob I can use to open it remotely, which is fun. I don’t keep the car in the garage though, partly because the garage is full of stuff but also because if the power went out long term and we had to go somewhere else for a while, the garage door wouldn’t open. There’s no manual way to do it. Anyway, I finally figured out what was happening.

What was happening was that every time the power came back on, the garage door mechanism interpreted it as a pulse and opened the door. I guess it was opening and closing at every pulse. Anyway, I had to do something about it so I decided to close it and turn off the circuit breaker so it wouldn’t randomly open again. Otherwise everything in there would get soaked.

It was getting dark by this time. Normally it doesn’t get dark here in June but the enormous thunderclouds took care of any residual sunlight. I went to the garage, sure enough the door was open but the door and lights weren’t working. Okay. I went back for a torch. The circuit breakers had flipped to ‘off’.

I turned them on. At this point, the storm decided to have a bit of fun with me and it went for peak intensity. Flashes and rumblings were seconds apart.

I pressed the button to close the door. It got halfway down – flash – the circuit breakers tripped. I turned them back on. Nothing. The power was off. The power came back on and the circuit breakers tripped.

I turned them back on and pressed the button. The door, now convinced it was in the opposite phase, opened fully. I let it. Then I pressed the button again and it started to close. Flash. The power went off but the circuit breakers didn’t trip. I waited. The power came back on and the circuit breakers tripped.

Okay. I turned them on and pressed the button. The door went back to fully open. Pressed it again. Flash The circuit breakers tripped. Switched them on. The power was off.

By this time I was considering disconnecting the door from the mechanism and nailing the damn thing closed.

One more try when the power came back. I finally got the door to almost-properly closed and – flash – the power went off.

Good enough. I made sure all the circuit breakers for the garage were off and left it.

Naturally, the rain came down like stair rods (you have to be a certain age to remember that one) and I was soaked on the short walk back into the house. Just one last insult from the storm gods.

Also we now have no internet. A quick check of the ISP’s site using the phone (we can get 4G if we’re in the right part of the house) shows that a big chunk of the UK has no internet tonight. Looks like the storms managed to hit something important.

The Dance of the Garage Door was just the storm playing around after it had completed its mission to screw up as much internet as it possibly could.

On Sunday, still with no internet, I called the ISP who ran a line check and decided the router was fried. I have to agree – the cordless landline phone is also dead but the plain old powered-from-the-phone-line one is fine. Switching things around told me the line itself is working but the router and cordless phone are destined for scrap.

I will have only intermittent internet, using the mobile phone as a link, until the new router arrives on Tuesday or Wednesday. And we have to go shopping for a phone too.

On the plus side, the storm really has cleared the air of stuffiness.

7 thoughts on “The Dance of the Garage Door

  1. This is not coincidence!
    It’s clear to me that the lightning is actually caused by trying to close your garage door.

    Further experiment is needed to prove it.
    But are you willing to inconvenience everybody again?

    Liked by 2 people

    • The desktop computers are powered through UPS units. I’ll have to fit a surge protector to the modem supply – when it arrives. It was supposed to be today but another aspect of living this far out of town is that ‘next day delivery’… isn’t. Hopefully tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Just occurred to me – the surge most likely came down the phone lines. We’re still on copper wire on poles here. That would explain how it fried the cordless phone but not its plug-in transformer.

      So I need a phone line surge protector too…


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