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.

15. Cry.

The End.


Unknown said...

Oh, you are so funny! I was feeling so bad for you, and almost suggested you call Pookie. Chores like that are always a whole lot scarier when you are sleetping. At least you found someone to do it

Ann Marie said...

I posted this same house on facebook Saturday.. I should blog post it today and we can have dueling blogs today. :)

I bet it was quite lovely in it's day and still have quite a character.

Anonymous said...

I'm mortally afraid of stink bugs! Crazy I know, but that is an infestation that I would DIE just thinking I had. Nice job with almost replacing the filters yourself!

Big Hair Envy said...

16. Pour a glass of wine. Change your mind, and just chug it directly out of the bottle.

The End.

Anonymous said...

I think I might step straight to that new number 16.

In the ceiling? I haven't looked there yet. And, silly question, how many filters for each heat pump unit? I think I might be inspired enough to give this a go!

foolery said...

Dear CBW,

Several times during any given week my thoughts turn to you, and I wonder, "How is Chesapeake Bay Woman almost killing herself right at this very minute?" I have a new method to add to the mix, never before considered.



p.s. Advice from my own dear mother: in between filter changings, vacuum your filters. It's better than no filters at all, or at least better than what appear to be hairy doormats crammed into the vents. My mom didn't say that last part.

Mental P Mama said...

I would just do step 15. Thank you.

Annie said...

Well, that sounds like a pretty fair description of what goes on at my place whenever there is anything to do!


Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

GJ - Pookie would scold me for procrastinating. In a nice way, though, of course.

Ann Marie - It really is a pretty house, even now in its state of decay. I took several shots - this isn't even the best one, it just happened to be one I had already uploaded from Wherever I Keep Photos.

Breezeway - STink Bugs look like a combination of prehistoric insect from hell and a nightmare. They cling to you, too, and move in slow motion so each step they take is sheer torture. I'm having a seizure now, just thinking about those nasty creatures. I"m sure they serve a purpose, but I can assure you their purpose is not served inside my house, unless it is to drive me crazy.

BHE - I knew I liked you...I also like BBQ if Cool Breeze is making up a batch any time soon....

Phyl - The way my system works is there are vents through which the A/C or heat blow scattered throughout the house. Wherever there's a vent, there's a filter inside. A filthy, dirty, cat-hair-infested filter causing untold damage to my lungs. I am sure the number of vents you have depends on the layout of your house, etc. Mine appears to have been layed out by a 3-year-old, because there is no rhyme nor reason to any of it, plus who puts a vent you have to access monthly over 8 feet up a wall?

Foolery, you can rest assured that at any given moment there is a mishap going on around here. Also, dirty doormat is an excellent, excellent description of what I pulled out of these vents. It was ridiculous.

MPM - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! Mental Mamma turns 29 today.

Annie - I'm sure you're way more organized than I am, though. You probably keep up with the things that need maintaining rather than procrastinate to the point that a disaster ensues.

Anonymous said...


Take heart, friend.

I saw a sun-dog today, and even though says clear skies, they old-timers say that means bad weather within two days time.

Maybe we'll get snow yet!


Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

AMN - I want snow so bad, and I am not talking about a dusting, I want a good one that keeps us indoors, snugly trapped in front of our internet-linked computers for days on end with no reason to leave the house and...but I digress.

I'd really love to see snow. Remember the winter it snowed Over Our Heads Deep? I can't remember how old I was but I'd say at least 10 or 12. We had to tunnel our way out the back door, it was crazy.

I want that.

p.s. I hope you're working on another story. I have exhausted my story stash and am scraping the bottom of the barrel unless and until I am caught trespassing again, or I injure myself trying to perform some household task, or well, you get the picture.

Meg McCormick said...

I read this on my Blackberry and the comment thingy doesn't work on it... but I wanted you to know, I thought about this all day yesterday and think it's one of the funniest posts I've ever read. If you ever assemble a "greatest hits" page (and you should, you should) - you have to include this one. I can just picture it!

(Note to self: change filters this year!!)

Anonymous said...

#5 would be enough to keep me from bringing the ladder inside the house in the first place. I'd just say the hell with it and call a handy man...or bribe my teenagers into doing it and borrowing someone's ladder that had stayed inside, all the time.

Oh and stink bugs don't stink nearly as bad as crushed Box Elder Beetles. Just sayin!

Victoria Martinez said...

This article is nicely written. A very well written guide to take care of your HVAC appliances. Heating and Cooling North York

Mahmoud Amin said...

alahlitadawl إحدى الخدمات المقدمة من البنك الاهلي السعودي، والتي تتيح لكافة المواطنين الاستفادة بمجموعة من الخدمات الاستثمارية المتاحة على منصة الأهلي، بالإضافة إلى خدمات مصرفية متخصصة في إدارة الصناديق الاستثمارية وإدارة الأصول والمحافظ الإلكترونية والعديد من الخدمات الهامة.