Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Here's a picture of my house. As you can see, it is in need of repair.
OK, so my house isn't quite this bad....yet. This beauty is over on Gwynn's Island, and I took the shot on a very dreary, overcast day. If you weren't looking closely, the house practically blended into the scenery. Speaking of old houses needing repair, I turn now to another chapter in the Chesapeake Bay Woman's Guide to Household Maintenance series.
As you know, Chesapeake Bay Woman's forte is anything domestic. She cooks like Julia Child, she makes crafts like Martha Stewart, she has more cleaning tips and hints than Heloise, and she lies. Just like a rug.
So, naturally, household maintenance projects are right up her alley. "Right up her alley" in this case is translated as "really nothing CBW needs to get near, because hair, teeth and eyes are liable to be flying everywhere after the temper tantrum or panic attack that accompanies most of the Do-It-Yourself Projects she undertakes."
For months now (we won’t mention how many, because that’s irrelevant at this juncture, which is good, because I can’t remember how many months it’s been), I've needed to change the filters in my heating/ac vents. I suppose the technical term is HVAC filters, but how would I know? I do know I have a heat pump, and every month the filters are supposed to be changed. I've been putting it off because that's what I excel at: putting off and ignoring necessary work. Unless work is defined as The Internet.
Figuring there are others out there who are lacking in the Self-Help Department, I offer the following step-by-step instructions for safely and efficiently replacing these filters.
Well, I offer instructions for replacing them, anyway.
1. When replacing the filters in your heating/ac vents, it is always advisable to have some spare filters on hand with which to do the actual replacing. This is a key ingredient in the filter replacement process.
2. Since you do not have any spare ones on hand, you'll need the dimensions of each filter so you can go down to the store at the courthouse to buy some more. When building a house, make sure that every single HVAC vent in your home is a different size. This will add extra excitement and frivolity to the filter replacement exercise.
3. Since you can’t locate your measuring tape to get the dimensions, set about the process of taking the old filters out so you can get the measurements written on the side.
4. Get the step ladder off the back patio which Chesapeake Bay Son left there on Christmas when he was trotting all over the roof looking for his remote-controlled helicopter.
5. Set the ladder up inside the house. Be sure to drag in some leaves and pine needles that accumulated on the ladder while it sat outside for 2 weeks. Pray the ladder is not providing shelter to insects who, upon being introduced to your warm home environment, decide that indoors is far better than outdoors. Flinch nervously as you already feel bugs crawling on you. Go ahead and let out a little scream if you feel like it. I know I did.
6. The reason you'll need a ladder is because the biggest vent, which is in the dining room, is up near the ceiling, which happens to be very high (as in somewhere in the proximity of Outer Space, however far away that is from the ground).
7. Carefully climb the ladder and realize you’re getting dizzy, likely due to the lack of oxygen in that particular layer of the atmosphere. Try not to panic. Try harder. You’re not trying hard enough.
8. While teetering back and forth on the 8’ ladder, reach up and say a prayer that you can get the vent cover off without plummeting to your death. As in all projects described on this site, it is advisable to have your affairs in order. Designate your beneficiaries and get a copy of the will out so people can find it easily.
9. Remove the filter, which has disintegrated from the weight of all the dust, hair and dirt. Notice that the filter is a 30-day filter. Recall that it's been “you don’t know how many months, never mind years” since you last did this. Feel all the dust and dirt suddenly overtake your lungs as you realize what you’ve been breathing in all this time. Become convinced that you have allergies or asthma, even if you’ve never suffered from these ailments before in your life. Return to the state of trying to prevent a panic attack while continuing to do your best balancing act at the top of the 8’ ladder while you are juggling a large filter weighted down with 55 pounds of cat hair, dust and dirt that comes showering down on you with each and every move you make.
10. Repeat this process for every vent in the house, only be sure to stand in a chair with a broken seat on it for the remaining vents that are at a more reachable level of the stratosphere. This will keep you on your toes and provide an extra, completely unnecessary level of danger in this otherwise delightful process.
11. Go to the store and buy the filters, only one of them will be the wrong size because even though you took every filter out and wrote down the dimensions, you wrote down the wrong size for one of them. This was likely due to the distraction caused by staving off death or vertigo while teetering at the top of an 8’ ladder all the while inhaling cat hair and dust. Or it could be due to the fact that you have a problem with attention to detail and numbers. Either/or.
12. Give up on the whole process; leave the ladder standing in the dining room; leave the newly purchased, wrong-sized filters on your bedroom floor, and take a nap. Pat yourself on the back for at least removing all the old filters, although now you have no filters at all inside each vent in your house. Pray that the rodents scratching around in your attic don’t discover this.
13. Have a dream that you cannot breathe and you’re drowning in dust, cat hair and lung-damaging, microscopic particles that a nice, clean filter would have shielded you from had you been more disciplined about changing the old ones.
14. Wake up in a cold sweat—coughing--and call a friend to replace the filters for you. Flick a stink bug off their arm as they are putting away the ladder that has been inside for several days, and realize you may have yet another insect infestation. Of stink bugs.