Vakkotaur (vakkotaur) wrote,

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The Canary in the Coal Mine

I am not mining coal, nor do I have a canary. What I do have is a house with electric wiring, some of which might charitably be called 'vintage' and a TRENDnet wireless access point. This combination gave us trouble (or at least me - since I do not have an unlimited data plan on my phone, so I go wifi or nothing unless I specifically turn on mobile networking). I found I would need to re-set the wireless access point often. It might be fine for a day or so, or it might fall over several times a day. This was, of course, quite annoying. What good is a network that doesn't network?

At first I blamed the TRENDnet device as it was the thing that was falling down constantly. Eventually I got so annoyed with it I looked at replacing it outright or even using a computer with a USB wifi gimmick as my own wireless access point. I didn't go that far, but did get sufficiently irked to move the thing into the office (from the living room) where at least I could more easily reset it. And then it worked. And worked. And kept on working - for a couple weeks solid. That indicates the canary, er, TRENDnet device itself isn't the problem, but something was causing it to fail.

There are only two cables going to the device: power and network. And then I recalled two things. One was that we had a lot of wifi failures when a tree branch was brushing up against a power line and when it finally caused a power outage and was dealt with, the wifi worked well again. That pointed to power quality problem. The other was that the problem might be in the house, as with a charred outlet that at least failed open and didn't start a fire. That had me concerned enough to consider rewiring, but first I would inspect everything on that living room circuit.

The inspection took a bit as there were more outlets and light switches on that circuit than we had recorded (or I read the notebook wrong...) and I found a couple things I wasn't entirely happy about. One was a simple re-doing of a workable, but sloppy, connection. The other was an outlet that felt like it was going come apart. That one got replaced. Only then did I feel it was safe to re-energize that circuit. Due to my work and sleep schedule and how wiped I've been feeling since an illness (bad cold?) this took a few days.

Yesterday I finally moved the access point back to the living room. The wireless setup has been working solid for over 14 hours as I write this. That's no guarantee off success - it's lasted a day or two there before. But it is a hopeful since failure within 12 hours had been the norm. I think I'll know in a week or two for sure. And even if that outlet wasn't the problem, I am glad to have replaced it.

Just to be sure, I've disconnected everything but lights from the suspect circuit. After the wifi has proven itself solid, I plan to re-connect things one at a time, over several days, just in case it was some other device causing trouble.

Tags: electrical, electricity, house, living room, outlet, trendnet, wifi, wireless
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