Transition Skills: When Utilities aren’t working

Everyone has had a plot twist that provides them with brown water, a power outage, or heat that isn’t working. There’s a logic chain that you walk through to assess the problem, and get the help you need to fix it.

Take a minute to think about how confusing that can be. You have no heat. There are so many possible explanations:

“I forgot to pay the gas bill”

“My furnace is shot”

“blown fuse”

“The furnace is working but the power is out so the blower isn’t working”

“The thermostat was reset by the cat”

“My phone didn’t charge overnight.” Is it the phone, the charging cable, the electrical outlet, a power outage?

If you have no water, you call the water company. But what if the water is brown? You call the city. What if you have water in your basement? Plumber. There’s a lot of nuances.

Last fall I called a repairman for my dryer when it turned out the dryer was fine, but I needed an electrician. This is easy to get wrong, and getting it wrong is expensive. What that in mind, we talked about the benefits of having a landlord, so that all calls go to the same person, and you’re not out $10k for a new air conditioning unit.

Today, Annie and I worked on a list of who to call for these emergencies. Because there are so many variables, the first people on her list are trusted adults in her inner circle, who can help her decide what to do next.

Because we live in an 80-year-old house that was subjected to decades of creative plumbing, the one provider she knew without being told was Gorjanc. Here’s some unsolicited advertising – even my kid knows that when Gorjanc shows up, things get fixed.

This will be an ongoing conversation, and we don’t have that many real-life opportunities to practice. (Except the plumbing, always the plumbing.) In the meantime, we will talk through scenarios, and the logic chain for next steps.

3 thoughts on “Transition Skills: When Utilities aren’t working”

  1. We have a landlord and 2 winters ago during the crazy snow, ice, and cold temps we were having, ice started piling up on the roof. When it started to melt, we had water leaking in from the window in our son’s room. The landlord came out and knocked the ice off the roof and accessed the damage (The wall above the window had to be knocked down and replaced). That night I go downstairs to the basement and I’m walking down the stairs and I see a trail of water. The hot water tank had a leak and needed to be replaced. That was a fun call I had to place again to the landlord. But he was there at 8am the next morning with a new hot water tank.

    1. When you have a reliable landlord, it really can make life easier. Two years ago, we went on our first family vacation in many years. We came home to find that the central air until was broken and had to be replaced. Not something you want to be paying for when you just spent money on a vacation!

  2. J Michael Reilly

    My family moved into a new house in March 1955, during a blizzard. The following day my father went to work, leaving my mother and me at home. This was in a new neighborhood with lots of empty lots, and a few not-yet-occupied homes. In the middle of the day it started to get very cold; the furnace was out. My mother was helpless to respond effectively. We had no phone and no car. Anyway by this time the blizzard had made the street impassable. But my mother remembered that one house down the street was occupied. So, she got me dressed in my snowsuit and boots, and she got herself dressed as best she could, and we set out on our adventure to possible salvation through knee-deep snow. She was hoping we could be sheltered there while awaiting a better solution. But, wonder of wonders, the resident of the shelter house was some kind of tradesman, who believed he could fix the furnace. So he left my mother and me with his wife (I got hot chocolate) while he trekked out to try to be a good neighbor. A very short time later he returned. The heat was on. Somebody had flipped the on/off switch.

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