Thursday, January 16, 2014

Range Vents and Raging Vents

As pointed out in a previous post, home “improvement” projects around our household are as common as cockroaches in a greasy New York diner - and just about as difficult to avoid. Often, the projects are similar to avalanches in the back country of Alaska. You’re just merrily walking along and suddenly you’re up to your neck in bad news.

So it was last Friday while aimlessly strolling through our local home improvement store. (I know, I know. I should have checked the slope and angle of the mountainside and evaluated the condition of the snowpack, but what the heck, I was only walking through the kitchen appliance aisle.) 

“See?” Mrs. Poynor said pointing to the range hoods. “This is the one I want. It’s not as expensive as you might think.”

“I wasn’t thinking it was expensive. In fact, I wasn’t thinking about range hoods at all. I was thinking about my avalanche survival training.” 

“I have ALWAYS hated that microwave/range hood in the kitchen.”

I’m not particularly prone to assigning emotions to kitchen appliances. However, I did have to admit the monstrosity hanging over the range was not something I would friend on Facebook, or follow on Twitter. As microwaves go it was just okay, albeit large enough to nuke an entire beluga whale. (It also sucked enough power to warrant calls to our neighbors warning them about a potential brownout when reheating a cup of coffee.) Where it truly failed was as a range vent. 

Being a high-end item, there were two selectable settings for vent: roof and room. At one time, I suppose, those settings meant something. Unfortunately, after years of use the vent baffle was stuck in the room position. I found this out the hard way when I put my barbecue grates in the oven and set the oven to self-clean. (Thank you Alton Brown for that really bad suggestion.) As the smoke billowed out of the oven, I frantically and repeatedly reset the vent position to roof. What I got resembled a horizontal tornado as the smoke billowed from the oven, got sucked into the fan overhead, and was forcefully ejected into the room to recombine with the new smoke belching forth. Net result was that, even with all the doors and windows open, the smokehouse scent lasted for weeks.

Oddly enough, of all the remodel stuff we’ve done, luck has seen to it that we never replaced a range hood. Things were about to change.

The dawn of Saturday found me seeking the wisdom that only how-to videos on YouTube can impart. I quickly discovered it was possible to remove an old microwave/range hood and reinstall a new range hood in six minutes and fifty-eight seconds (including the 15-second ads associated with each video). But first I had to find the installation instructions for existing behemoth because simply removing the bolts holding it up did nothing toward getting it free of the wall. The instructions showed a large, wall-mounted bracket was the culprit. Easy enough: lift, tilt, pull. The microwave was down. Six large lag bolts later the bracket was gone. This is when the swearing started in earnest. 

Constructed from an old pickup tail gate, I think.
For over thirty years all projects around our house have received an R-rating due to language. Some people whistle while they work. Some people hum. Others sing. I swear. Not just the occasional “damn,” mind you, but profligate profanity laced heavily with invention. The difference this time was Mrs. Poynor started crying.

Solutions. That's why she's the engineer.

“What?” I asked innocently enough. “Profanity is just another tool in my toolbox. It’s like a sharp knife used to cut the tension. I’ll just patch the wallboard and we’ll mush on.”

“But I’m hosting Bunco on Wednesday!” she wailed. “You can’t patch, mud, texture and paint that mess so it looks good in just a couple of days!”

“You said nothing about a deadline! I’m taking a break. Think of a quick fix while I replace vital electrolytes with a beer. Maybe several.” 

In the length of one beer the project engineer had a solution. “Just put in the patching, don’t worry about finishing it out. I’m going to the store to get some tile.”

I’m not going into what all went into installing the new hood. Or how the existing ducting had to be cut away to connect it up. Or how it all involved scrabbling through the thirty inches of snow on our steep roof to seal a vent leak. Let’s just say everything was done and tile was being applied by late Sunday afternoon. 

“Okay,” Mrs. Poynor said as the last of the tile was in place, “twenty-four hours for the adhesive to dry… forty-eight hours for the grout to cure… then I can seal the tile. We’ve got just enough time.”

Just in time for the first Bunco player.

Half an hour before the first Bunco player arrived found the project engineer applying the last coat of sealer. That was #*%@$+& close!

Shameless plug: If you’d like to read about more home improvement debacles check out my book Of Moose and Men II: Home is Where the Harm Is on Amazon.

1 comment:

  1. Not only did I double over with laughter, but I LOVE the finished product. You guys rock!