Editorials

A fun morning of tech hell

I got up this morning to head to a lab to do a thing called a cortisol suppression test. It’s yet another thing in the never-ending health journey… the shower was luke warm at best, but it was not cold. I texted my handyman I thought that an element had probably gone out and asked if he could come and replace it.

TL;DR – one man’s very expensive morning.

Right after that I noticed my internet was down… now, thing about my internet router is it’s in my basement because my internet works absolutely great if the AP can shoot up through the floor avoiding having to traverse multiple 1940’s plaster walls, but there’s no good placement in the main areas on the first floor. I decided to investigate but didn’t expect the two were related.

I placed the Wi-Fi router where under no circumstances could a water leak hit the router.

I didn’t, however, place the power supply to the router in a place where a 4 foot stream of steaming water could hit above it, travel over and drop onto the beam the power supply was attached to, and fill the power brick up. Silly me.

My water heater had a wide swath of streams shooting up and my basement was humid… handyman said the tank rusted out at the top. 9 years old it looks like. Womp womp.

So my fallback here was to go to my ancient AT&T provided modem for Wi-Fi while I wait for a $10 power supply to show as I’m pretty sure the router itself was dry the entire time.

I plugged my computer into the back of the AT&T router, which I believe is a Pace 5268AC, enabled the Wi-Fi, and watched as nothing worked any more. I’ll skip the myriad of troubleshooting steps I went through, but the determination was that once the Wi-Fi enabled the DNS stopped working. You could connect to the thing but couldn’t do any lookups unless you hardcoded something like 1.1.1.1 or 8.8.8.8 for DNS.

I decided to factory reset this and followed the instructions. Factory resetting involves pressing a button that says “reset” for, according to AT&T, a little over 10 seconds. I did this, nothing. It didn’t reset the router, it didn’t reboot the router, it didn’t do squat. It was at this point I decided to call AT&T for the third time in five and a half years.

Water heater explodes.
The only action shot I have of the top of the water heater. Ignore the shoes on the insulation that’s another project.

One of my calls involved a bad power situation (my bad,) one involved them having an issue with the firmware on that modem that required them to kill off some logs if I remember correctly, but since May of 2018, through multiple bad weather events, power outages, and drunken idiots taking out telephone poles, my monitoring says it’s been down about six minutes (other than the Christmas bombing of 2020.)

So I finally get a human as their automated “let me reboot that for you” didn’t work and the tech actually understood in one shot that I could program DNS into a computer but that the router was not providing it nor were there any options to set the DNS in the router’s DHCP (it’s not me, it’s you AT&T). As we were talking I pulled that Pace 5268AC manual and discovered that I basically needed to hold that reset button about 30 seconds, not the 10 seconds AT&T listed. Womp womp. I claim internet issues on my research and 10 second instructions by AT&T (I maxed out at maybe 18.)

Factory reset initiated, and once it came back up it worked… and then stopped… then worked… then got weird. I put Wi-Fi back to normal, and for the most part things work for a while until the router stops responding to DNS. Not an issue on my computer or my phone, but all the little IoT gadgets I got can’t phone in and from the looks of things it’s just dropping a lot of connections.

There were reasons I upgraded to a separate router… amongst them that where the internet comes in and where I had to place that router are terrible for coverage.

AT&T offered to send me a new router as mine was pretty ancient. I accepted because that thing just ain’t going to hack it. Whether it’s firmware or what, even wired into the thing it’s dropping connections after a factory reset. Womp womp.

The new router shows tomorrow, and a power supply for my Wi-Fi supposedly shows today that is supposed to work with my thankfully dry TP Link gaming router. Do I use it for gaming? Not really. It had all the functions I needed for other projects, and the idea of a giant spider in my basement was amusing.

So yeah kiddos… if you’re putting a router in your basement so that Wi-Fi signal doesn’t have to break through two plaster walls at a minimum, make sure the power cord couldn’t possibly conduct water dripping off the basement ceiling several feet away to the power brick and soak it.

Router is from 2017 it appears, and the Rheam water heater was installed nine years ago putting it one year over the average minimum life of a water heater (8-12 years). I’ve got the soaked power supply in a bag of rice which will be my first ricing I believe. Maybe second.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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