*****I just keep being compelled to show you guys how gross my house is.
Maybe it's because I've had enough people over now who read this blog and kind of freak out about how nice they think it looks and then act afraid to touch things or do things like pee in our toilets as if we live in a museum or something that I just want to be like WE REALLY ACTUALLY TRULY LIVE HERE, PLEASE RELIEVE YOURSELF IN MY RESTROOM WITHOUT FEAR.
Case in point: I have aluminium wrapped around the legs of my dining room table because Roxy keeps using the legs as a scratching post and Max, Nubs, and Antonia eat plastic so I can't do the inside-out plastic wrap trick and double-sided tape just seems like more damage than protection (and a cat hair magnet) so foil it is. It looks like my poor table is trying to commune with Martians. And it's strange enough that the Jehovah's Witnesses who came to my house this morning questioned it, to my barely-awake face as Tova hid by the play kitchen, glaring at them like Satan spawn and you know, that's when you really wish you could just start the day over.
It became bizarrely cold a couple of weeks back -- like lows in the upper thirties -- and eyeballing that in the forecast made me keenly aware of how gross our ductwork is. I mean, after five years of legit construction, a parade of animals, and two toddlers plus just the regular dirt that comes with two grown ups, they were nasty and I wanted nothing more than to find a deal on duct-cleaning and have it be done before we had to fire up the furnace IN SEPTEMBER.
Alas, come to find out most duct-cleaning services are mostly a scam, and it's really something that you can mostly handle yourself with a little time with your friends Google and Dyson. I couldn't stand the idea of that awful burning smell we've encountered the last couple of years when we first fired up the heat, and suddenly my world could not progress until I took matters into my own tiny baby-sized lady hands.
So, on the day of the projected cold snap, I set about cleaning out every duct in our home. Come to find out we don't have a cold air return, which is weird and not really efficient at all and also HOW WHY WHAT but I guess it made this cleaning process a lot easier than the interwebs made it out to be.
Of course, I documented this venture for your future knowledge. You're welcome.
I picked the last vent that I cleaned, which was in the living room, to share with you. I actually should have done the one in the kitchen because it was SUPER ICKY, but I didn't think about it until I was halfway through. This one had better light, anyway.
It is also the super-ghetto vent with the plywood patch that we'll address someday. And yes, all of the vents in my house are directly under windows, to add to the lack of efficiency generally prevalent throughout this place.
Anyway, so our living room is pretty high traffic, as it is the room we spend the most time in pretty much bar none. This is apparent once you get a good look at the vent, before we even open that bad boy up.
Cat hair ahoy! Or possibly cobwebs. Does it really matter? It's gross.
But not as gross as what it concealed.
The ductwork itself appears, under all that ick, to have seen better days itself ... I'm pretty sure that a sippy cup or two have so generously shared their contents with this particular vent, but I'm not taking out a whole damn duct just because the galvanized steel is a little stained.
I am, however, going to get ALL OF THAT SHIT out of my vent, as best as I can.
So, after removing the vent cover and gagging a little, I disassembled my Dyson Animal (because duh why wouldn't I own the purple vacuum made for pet owners) so that I had just the hose at my disposal.
And I attacked this beast.
First, I sucked up everything I could obviously see. I found it best to not have any attachment on the hose for this part because honestly, it was really hard telling what all was down there and getting sucked up without having extra bristles and whatnot clogging the whole thing up.
Good thing I have tiny baby hands and wrists and am flexible.
I also just pulled the hose out to full length and shoved it into the vent further than I could reach and sort of waved it around a bit, hearing the sounds of random god knows what being pulled into my awesome vacuum of doom. That was pretty much good enough for me. I had to be careful, though, because there were some screws or nails or something poking up through the vents at their joining places to the rest of the ductwork and I was afraid of (a) tearing my very expensive vacuum's hose and (b) tetanus. So the waving around was more of a soft shimmy, if you will, than like a spiraling chaos. Because technique matters, you know.
Then it was time to tackle the vent cover itself:
Don't forget the back!
Want a close up of the gross? OF COURSE YOU DO.
That was legitimately a cobweb or former nest or something I don't want to think about really.
It was at this point, however, that I realized the ahemyearsahem of neglect had left more of a thick layer of dust and grime on the vents, beyond what the suction power of my Dyson could easily remove.
So this project moved up a level, from basic cleaning to more than slightly OCD scrubbing, and for that I was going to need more tools.
We bought these covers for the downstairs when we first moved in I think really just because I thought they were pretty. I don't know. But that means that they disassemble easily (which could NOT be said of the vintage ones we have in the upstairs rooms -- those were a nightmare to clean), so I just had to find the right size flathead screwdriver to pop the little anchors and ta-da, super easy cleaning time.
You can see there, a bit, how really gross the actual vent part was, without it's cover on.
Oh, what's that? You can't see it? WELL LET ME HELP YOU.
Oy, the shame I should feel but I kind of don't because yeah, that seems fair for the life we currently live.
I didn't really do anything special here -- the bottom vent part is plastic, so I just used an old dish brush and our regular dish soap to scrub the grime away.
I rinsed away the soap and dried it off with a paper towel, then used that damp paper towel to wipe down the decorative metal piece that connects to the vent. I didn't want to wash the metal part outright in case that would cause rust, because I actually like these vent covers the way they are and don't really want to have to mess with painting them to take care of rust I accidentally caused. And Kyle would be mad if I told him I needed to buy new ones, so, wipe down it was.
Then, before reassembling, came the next magic step in the process.
Which we'll tackle Thursday, because it's a whole other level of ductwork concern that it needs it's own whole post.