Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Little Advice, or, Preventative Maintenance

It’s not too surprising that when, a few days ago, my bedroom curtain wall came crashing down around our ears, I fudged a way to fix it for the short term. I’m all about making things nice and lovely, but sometimes that doesn’t happen until … later.

It’s even less surprising that my temporary solution involved a book – I mean, talk about a staple resource in our house. Books are the ubiquitous handy solutions for all of our domestic problems. Need a coaster? Use a book. Need a leg up? Use a stack of books. Need to load a catapult? You get the idea.

Only one of my curtain bolts pulled out of the ceiling (because, for reasons probably involving divine intervention, the other two were magically in studs I just didn’t know about), so two thirds of the curtain was still held up. The problem was propping up the one end that fell and which was, of course, responsible for holding the heaviest part of the curtains themselves. So, I wedged a book between a horizontal piece of trim and rested the curtain rod on it. Done.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I went about my day, which included exciting things like cleaning up the coffee spill of the century, restringing HC’s guitar, cooking dinner while holding back “morning” sickness –misnomer of the millennium – and writing an article for P (pshh what is this “job” he keeps referring to?!).

The book situation may or may not have made do for, say...a day. Or two.

Okay, three.

However, I would like to point out that I GOT TO IT AFTER DAY THREE. Three days was enough of not being able to have a peek of the sunlit, snow covered courtyard, and having to walk all the way around to the other side of the house to let the cats in. AND I got to it after the following real-life conversation:

P walks in, eyes the curtains and says: Oh, I thought those were broken.

Me: They are.

P: They don’t look broken.

Me: They are. They’re just propped up on that book.

P: Oh. Well it looks like that’s working pretty well. *short pause* Maybe instead of fixing it we could just get a nicer looking book…[emphasis added]

Seriously?! Seriously. This, from the man who is always telling me that one of the many joys of being WASPS (which, for the record, I am not), is that we initiate preventative maintenance.

At any rate, fixing the curtain was far more involved than I initially anticipated. C and I dove in head first.

Step 1. Unscrew both remaining pipe hangers so that release the curtain rod.

Step 2. Carefully lower the curtain to the ground, so that the curtain hooks stay on the curtain rings and won’t have to be counted out and rethreaded later.

Step 3. Watch as all of the curtain hooks fall out of the rings as soon as the rod touches the floor.

Step 4. Consider this a bad omen.

Upon further inspection of the wounded ceiling, we discovered that our problems were threefold:

1. There is no stud within a 10 inch distance of where the bolt needs to be driving into the ceiling. Given the semi-permanent nature of the rod-hanging situation, moving the bolt horizontally along the curtain rod until we find a stud would dramatically hinder the opening and closing of the curtain itself, making it so that we would need to leave the heavy curtain closed over the sliding glass door at all times. Awkward.

2. Directly above the ceiling in my room is currently the attic. This has not always been the case. As I may have mentioned before, this was once a flat-roofed house. When our predecessors decided to add a hip roof (hipped roof? Whatever.), they just plopped it right down on top of the old flat roof, without removing any of the many layers of tar, paper, gravel and other stuff that was piled up on there. So, the floor of our attic is literally what used to be the top of the house that was exposed to the elements. This we only discovered (remembered) after attempting to drill through the ceiling in order to install a drywall anchor and gravel started falling through the drill hole. I went upstairs to investigate and discovered that, in order to reach any kind of space where the little umbrella top of the drywall anchor could open up and support itself, we needed about a two-foot long bolt in a hole drilled a two-and-a-half-foot long drill bit. Not only do I not have either one of those things, but I don't plan on acquiring them.

3. Now that we had eliminated both the possibility of screwing into a stud AND sinking an anchor, there was an even more ominous, gaping hole in the ceiling, out of which gravel and tar paper would occasionally fall.

We experimented with the idea of working from the attic down, thereby eliminating the gravel-falling-in-eyes problem we were (literally) facing when attempting to drill up into the ceiling. About two minutes of poking around in the attic pretty much convinced me that wasn’t doable, and furthermore it didn’t solve the two-foot-bolt issue.

Of course the when we finally came up with a workable solution, it was far simpler than either of the previous ideas.

We took ourselves and the dog down to the hardware store and bought one simple piece of hardware, along with some spray paint (does anyone else feel like spraypaint should be one word? Spellcheck doesn’t. Spellcheck doesn’t think that Spellcheck should be one word either. Who elected this program king of grammar anyway?).

We went home, and C painted it while I reclined and ate Chef Boyardee lasagna straight out the can. Don’t judge. She likes spraypainting. I think.

The next day, I used three simple, normal sized screws to secure it in place. I hung the rod. It stayed up. I hung the 80 million pound curtains. It still stayed up. It was a miracle.

What was this incredible device, you ask?

Oh, you know. Just something made for EXACTLY THIS PURPOSE.

The guy at the hardware store assures me that this little guy will hold up to 400lbs, which is well above the weight I’ve loaded on. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s right.

(Please ignore the unfinished patch job, sloppy paint splatters and unfilled holes in the wood. One project at a time, people. Plus, it’s like 7ft in the air and nobody in real life notices anyway. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.)

A LITTLE ADVICE: Think outside the box. But read the box first. If it says "premium heavy duty closet rod bracket" on the outside, you may as well try thinking inside the box for a while, just to see what happens.

No comments:

Post a Comment