Thursday, November 10, 2011

When it occurred to me that the animals are swimming around in the water in the oceans in our bodies... (a.k.a. Well Done Broke Adendum 2)

On Saturday, I had a look beneath the house from just outside our home's exterior crawlspace door. I'd deduced that our dead mouse was likely somewhere in the ductwork for the back part of the house, because it's stench was not evident from the vents in the living room and kitchen. The blower for the AC is in the front part as well, so logically it was blowing air across the dead mouse further back, logically in the main duct junction box, but possibly in one of the four flexi-tube ducts leading to the vents in the bedrooms and office. This gave us a place to start our search, but I wasn't sure I wanted to undertake this task alone. Unfortunately, the wife wouldn't have a day off until Monday, so our solution to the smell was to shut off the heat altogether. If we got too cold, we could fire up the wood stove.

The wife proposed we make a day of it on Monday, and not only search out the mouse, but put up some screen over any other places we thought mice might be and patch any new holes we found. I decided, though, that there was really no reason I couldn't go down there earlier and at least see what it would take to detach one of the vent hoses from the central vent junction box. I announced I would undertake this on Sunday.

I procrastinated doing the job for most of the day, busying myself instead with preparing material for and recording a new "LiberryCAST". Before I could get what I'd recorded fully edited, though, the wife called to find out how things were going with the mouse and I realized it was nigh on 4 p.m. I knew if mouse-corpse-hunting was going to happen, I'd better get it done while I still had some daylight to help illuminate things. (Technically, it's only slightly easier to work beneath the house in daylight as opposed to night, as you need flashlights for both. I've been down there in both day and night, but can attest that it's far less creepy to be down there in the daytime--particularly when the wife isn't going to be around to back you up in case of C.H.U.D. attack.)

I gathered up some tools, including gloves, duct tape, lights, utility knife, some plastic grocery bags for any mouse corpses found and a dust mask. I then strapped on my knee pads and crawled on in. I stopped at the nearest flexible duct, the one running to my office, to examine how difficult it would be to remove. It was held onto the male junction box connection by metallic tape and what looked like a thick zip tie. I cut around the tape and tried to wiggle the hose off, but it didn't look like that was going to happen unless I cut the zip tie first. I decided that this particular hose was not the likely mouse location, so any major duct surgery should be done at a more likely duct. I crawled over to the duct that led to the room in which we first smelled the mouse: the guest room duct.

I cut the metallic tape, unwound it from the duct itself, then cut through the zip tie below. With only a little effort, I was able to remove the flexi-duct from the junction box and was immediately hit by a concentrated version of the dead mouse stench. Oh, that guy was near. I shone a light into the junction box. There were a few ancient-looking acorns in there, but no mouse.

Great, I thought. He was probably further down the junction box where I wasn't going to be able to reach. And what I really should have brought down there with me was my video camera, which I could have at least held inside the junction and used its light to film what else was in there.

Before putting the duct back onto the box, I decided to have a look inside it, just in case. And there, lying seemingly peacefully on its side, just inside the duct itself, was the dead mouse.

I was so happy. What could have been a MASSIVE project involving hours spent crawling around in the dust and nastiness beneath the house had been reduced to 20 minutes crawling around in the dust and nastiness beneath the house. I fished a grocery bag from my tool bag and, glove firmly on hand, scooped the stinky offender from the duct. Then I reinstalled the duct and duct-taped the crap out of it.

On my way back out, I spied another mouse holes in a duct and taped it up. We'd have to come back and do a more thorough inspection, not to mention sealing up the vent better than my duct-tape temp-fix. But I felt triumphant all the same. I immediately called the wife to let her know what her big strong man had accomplished. She was pleased. Then she asked me if I'd cleaned out the acorns I'd described being in the central duct. Uh, nope, I had to admit. Yeah, we'd need to do that, she said. In fact, we needed to have a look in the ducts to see if the mice had built a nest in there, cause with the amount of insulation that occasionally floats up, it seemed likely.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

use aluminium tape rather than cloth duct tape, otherwise you'll be back down there redoing it in a short while (it dries out when used for heating ducts).

cloth backed tape isn't fire rated, and this use is against code.