February 17, 2008
by: jovial_cynic
I've always been at least mildly claustrophobic -- much more so as a child than as an adult. As a child, I would refuse to ride in elevators. I wouldn't even go into public restrooms without leaving a shoe in the doorway to keep the door from closing. I had this horrible fear that I would be trapped with no way to get out.

Last week, my wife told me that the heater vents to our daughters' rooms weren't pumping out any heat, and that instead, cold air was coming up through them all the time. We suspected that the raccoons that hid under our back deck might have found a way into the crawl space and made their way into the duct-work, or knocked some of it down in an attempt to get warm.

The only way to find out exactly what happened was to go under the house to check out the vents.

:: shudder ::

I ran to Home Depot to grab some necessary gear -- foil tape and some 3' lengths of zip-ties, plus a handy LED camping light, and got myself ready to face one of my greatest fears.

This is the pathway to horror. How many adventurers have gone before me, never to return?

The catacombs await me. That, and whatever critters might be down there. Hungry critters.

This was my first encounter as I headed down. Delicious.

It's dark in there. And those spiderwebs are everywhere. For that reason, I wore beanie and wielded a short staff to protect myself from webs and whatever else I might encounter.

Right away, I got a good idea of the layout of the crawl space. The house apparently sits on posts, and suspended from the ceiling of the crawl space, just below the fiberglass, is a network of insulated plastic tubes -- these are the ducts.

Here's another shot of the duct work. I believe the black plastic network of tubes is the plumbing.

Following the duct work through half the house, I found the source of the problem. This was not caused by an animal; this was caused by poor workmanship. The duct was apparently held together with just a couple of layers of duct tape, and it finally fell apart. I sealed it up with a zip-tie and several layers of foil tape.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of my completed work. I'll go under again and edit this post when I have some pictures.

Following the duct work around the house, I found a few spots that needed to be repaired.

This spot was in front of an air vent that gets a lot of sunlight. It took quite a bit of tape to patch it up.

While down there, I actually forgot about my claustrophobia. I stopped a couple of times and just laid on my back and relaxed. All the insulation under the house blocks out a lot of the sound, and coming from a house with three kids, it was rather pleasant.

In spite of the quiet, I couldn't stay down there for too long without freaking out a little bit. I was quite relieved to approach the exit.

This is the gear of the dungeon-crawling adventurer. I'm glad to be done.
np category: DIY


Ken said:
You should have cast magic missle at the darkness.

I learned about ducts recently. See here -
watch this

February 17, 2008

jovial_cynic said:
Alas, this adventurer had no spell-casting ability. :)

Did you go into the crawlspace to shoot the video of the guy applying the mastic sealant, or was that some stock footage from the company? It really does feel like dungeon crawling down there. If you haven't done it, I highly recommend it. Apart from the near-paralyzing claustrophobia, I really enjoyed it.

February 18, 2008

Joelle said:
One look at that spider and I would have turned the other way, called the repair people and happily shelled out the money to have *them* crawl down there. Maybe it's a girl thing... eeek!
February 18, 2008

Ken said:
Yeah dude, I hauled my $2000 dollar camera down there and filmed all that stuff. Learned a lot about ducts. There is another one I shot as well, though this is the only one dealing with dungeon crawling.
February 18, 2008

the wife said:
Thanks so much for playing "handy man" this weekend. I really appreciate it. :)
February 18, 2008

jovial_cynic said:
Joelle - yeah, unfamiliar spiders creep me a out a little bit. There were a bunch of daddy-long-legs that didn't concern me, but that thing was new. But under the house, you can't see them as well, so there's less to be freaked-out about.

Ken - very cool. If there's ever another dungeon adventure that comes up, I'll make sure to bring you along.

The Wife - No prob, baby. I had lots of fun doing it. :)

February 18, 2008

Allison said:
Yeah that spider looked pretty hungry.
I think that you should include a jumpsuit for any further dungeon crawling adventures.

It is pretty interesting to learn new things, like how houses work. We have no crawlspace under the house, but I suppose I could send Ken up into the attic.

February 18, 2008

Kris said:
Eeeeek! You are my hero. I am claustrophobic myself and I definitely could not do this!
February 19, 2008

jovial_cynic said:
Allison - I think a jump suit (which I own, actually) would be a great idea. Hrm. I'll have to remember that the next time I go under.

Kristen - I dunno that it makes me a "hero," as there are tons of people who make a career out of doing this very thing. Thanks, though. :)

February 19, 2008

the wife said:
Hey - looking at the first picture again... we REALLY need to work on the side yard when the weather starts to get nicer. YUCK. :)
February 19, 2008

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