How to install a new HVAC duct

AWOL … but with a really good excuse.

So … with my husband gone all tasks fall on my senior citizen, little old round mamma shoulders. Today’s task was to replace the old, rotten, holey HVAC duct work with a new, insulated pipe. Now this is a task that I would have been assigned even when he was alive, but I would have had his guidance, support, and encouragement as I worked. Plus he would have noticed that if after three hours I hadn’t returned there might be something a miss and that maybe he might want to call 911.

And … YouTube has assured me that its an easy, know nothing, Harry Home Owner job … ?!?

I’m ready! I have done my homework, have my tools gathered, have the new duct in hand,
lots of rolls of Duct Tape, and even have a new tube of Neosporin in the medicine cabinet. I open the covering to the crawl space, light my LED lamp, and start the belly (snake) walk under the house.

The crawl space starts out at a nice 18″ depth but slowly drops as I near the AC unit. The HVAC people who replace the outside unit two years ago forgot … yea! … to connect the drain pipe to the AC so all the old, musty dirt under the house is standing in water. There’s sour mud everywhere.

When I do get to the HVAC opening I have less than 12″ of head space. I can’t lay down because I can’t move my arms enough to work on the duct. So I am crunched against the I-beam that, of course, is just before the furnace. Half on my knees, half on my belly, half on my elbows trying to cut the banding straps that hold the old duct line in place and get the new one into position.

I am wet, I am muddy, and I am twisted up into a pretzel, all while trying to hold up the new duct against the metal opening with one hand while trying to tighten the pipe clamp with the other and, of course, I have gotten the pipe clamp backwards so I am having to use my non-dominate hand to sllllloooowwwwwlllly screw the D#@% thing tight. Its one turn per 1/8″ and I, of course, got the extra large clamp to make sure I had enough …. AHHHH!

The slimy, musty dirt mud has now seeped beyond my blue jeans butt into my extra long blue jean shirt which is tucked into my pants … my nose is plastered against the I-beam to get my hands close enough to keep screwing the clamp … but the worst thing is my glasses are steaming up and the sweat in puddling where my glasses lie on my cheeks. I can not see a thing.

AN HOUR …. It took me an hour to get just the first end on the new HVAC duct into place. At least I hope it is in place but won’t know until I have done the other end and snake bellied out of this nasty, nasty place in which I am trapped.

tracing your pattern to the wood

One more end to do and surely I have learned something about this job so that the second side doesn’t take so long. I have a little more head room, at least a glorious 14″ from the floor and this time the I-beam is behind the duct and not right in front of my nose.

Very, very ,very carefully I set the pipe clamp so that it will be in the right position for my dominate hand and, of course, after pushing, squeezing, squirming the new duct over the outlet I realize I have once again gotten the screw backwards.

But …. Success! …. This side only takes 58 minutes!!!!! The mud has now passed the blue jean, the blue jean shirt and has totally saturated my undies and I won’t even try to describe how I smell. Its time to snake belly out of this muck, go back inside, turn on the AC and hold my breathe hoping neither end of the duct pipe blows off when the AC kicks in.

AIR! I’ve got AIR!!!!! I know that I have to crawl back under the crawl space to put the insulation over the new duct work, but I – have – AIR!

My Dad taught me long ago that all five minute jobs take one and a half hours, two trips
to the hardware store, at least three Band-Aids, and a lot of cussing.

I did it in two hours, with only three orders to Amazon, no Band-Aids, and having only ruined my old jeans, old jean shirt, and a pair of undies …

The reason I am sharing my sad Perils of Pauline tale with you today is that I, a hard core feminist, have to admit that the job I did today – a traditionally Harry not Harriet job – was harder than delivering my 8 lb. 13 oz. son … at least during the birth of my son they gave me good drugs!



tracing your pattern to the wood