Saturday, June 15, 2024 Jun 15, 2024
93° F Dallas, TX

Tux Challenge Day 27: Best-Dressed Spelunking Do-It-Your-Selfer

If you were a rat under my house Sunday afternoon, this is what you would have seen.
If you were a rat under my house Sunday afternoon, this is what you would have seen.

There are few places I hate more than the crawl space under my house. It is dark and musty. It is like Satan’s colon. Aging duct work crisscrosses the cramped space. Dessicated rat droppings lie everywhere. Cobwebs hang from the joists, under which I am forced to belly-crawl in spots, using my elbows to inch along, lest I bump my head. Except I always do bump my head.

Imagine my disgust, then, on Sunday afternoon as I came to the conclusion, while tuxedo clad and hung over, that under the house was where I was headed. My friend Laura had turned 40 the night before. An ’80s cover band played the party. You’ll understand, sweet child o’ mine, if I over-served myself. That explains the hangover. The reason for the trip under the house is a little more complicated.

About a week ago, we noticed that the laundry room was generating a humid, gale-force wind whenever we ran the dryer. Turned out the vent hose had disintegrated. I duct taped the thing pretty good, but on Sunday I figured I’d work out a more permanent fix, which was a mistake. I should have left well enough alone. While removing the old vent hose from the back of the dryer, I accidentally disconnected it from the duct that runs under the house, which then dropped out of reach. I stood and stared at the hole in the laundry room floor for probably a good 15 minutes. Then I crawled under the house. In a damn tuxedo.

Note to the fine folks at Al’s Formal Wear: I did not crawl under the house in either of the two black tuxedos. I wore the brown tux, the one I used for water-skiing. It wasn’t in great shape before I crawled under the house in it. Now it’s worse. Think about someone crawling around in Satan’s colon while wearing a tuxedo. That’s what your tuxedo looks like now. I apologize.

I had to crawl under the house three times. On the first trip, I realized that the dryer vent duct under the house wasn’t actually connected to the hole that leads outside, meaning we’d been venting our humid dryer air under the house for who knows how long. In the winter, this must have given great comfort to the rats. On the second trip, I connected a new duct to the new vent hose, which I’d fed through the hole in the floor. On the third trip, I connected the new duct to the hole that leads outside (in which I also installed a new flapper thingy, a task that necessitated several trips under the front porch, which, in terms of spiderwebs, totally dominates the crawl space under the house).

Between the trips under the house, I made two trips to Home Depot to buy supplies. Again, wearing the (now filthy) tux. I drew a lot of looks, as you might well imagine. Thankfully, I didn’t once have to explain myself. That was fortunate. I was so sweaty and frustrated, my hung-over noggin by then a splotchy red from bumping into floor joists, that I might have punched someone if he’d given me the standard “Going to a wedding?”

The whole dryer vent project took about four and a half hours. I’m happy to report that the system is functioning perfectly now. That’s the good news. That bad news is that I not only soiled a tuxedo to the point that it probably needs to be incinerated, but I also broke a cuff link.

Five days till I have to throw myself on the mercy of Al’s Formal Wear.