I amused myself Friday night by wallowing around in the self-instigated layer of mud I’d created in the crawl space under our house. It wasn’t necessarily for amusement’s sake, though; while running a new electric circuit, I’d accidentally drilled into the hot water line around ten o’clock. By eleven o’clock, I’d repaired the water line, finished the circuit and cleaned myself up for a good night’s sleep.
The sleep was so effective that I greeted Saturday’s early light with an extended attic excursion. Another electrical project.
The previous night’s effort was to provide a new, safer and properly grounded circuit for electrical outlets in the kitchen and in the living room on the walls shared by both rooms. Cartoon Day’s excursion was for the purpose of removing an old stove hood vent pipe and installing new “can lights” for the kitchen. This required some prime attic time.
Our attic is extremely well insulated and equally poorly designed for access. Four inches of old fiberglass insulation topped with eight-to-ten inches of blown –in insulation. Very effective for separating thermal zones. And very, very prone—when disturbed—to fill the air with millions of tiny fibers and a few decades of accumulated dust.
A maximum degree of disturbance is guaranteed by the access design.
Naïve folks like me would expect the builder to have installed an access panel in the ceiling of the hallway, which would be in the main area of the attic. That would offer easy access in close proximity to most of the house. Instead, the access panel is in the ceiling of the garage, at the far end of the north ell of the house. Our ranch style home has a low roof with relatively low slope. And, inside the attic, beneath the rafters of that low roof, the builder had used even lower collar beams to reinforce the low rafters.
This means that in order to access the attic over the kitchen, one has to climb up a step-ladder in the garage, open the access panel, lift oneself up into the ceiling and then belly-crawl through thirty feet of insulation just to get to the main part of the house. Then, there’s the fun of crawling across hidden joists and finding the hidden wires beneath the twelve-to-fourteen inches of insulation.
By the time I’d finished my third trip back and forth and up and down, all the wires had been pulled to place, the holes for the lights were opened into the kitchen and everything was mostly ready for connecting. The old vent pipe had been pulled out of the kitchen ceiling and a panel had been installed to cover that hole. A half-bushel of insulation decorated various aspects of the kitchen and I was well-coated with sweat, dust, dirt and insulation. I looked very much as if I had just come home from a long day in a cellulose mine.
In spite of the bruises and scrapes, friction burns and aches gained from four hours of crawling around under the kitchen and over it, there were still facts for which to be grateful: thanks to an earlier rain and overcast morning, the attic had stayed at around eighty degrees for the entire project and there was plenty of warm water for my shower.
There’s usually some aspect of appreciation available to us if we choose to look for it. Which gives us something to do while we recuperate from the other parts…