Home improvement

Hitting the ceiling

Here’s a fun redecorating trip for anyone wanting to make their home feel like a tropical getaway – cover every bit of the inside of your house in plastic, wait for the air conditioner to then break, and voila! The inside of your house feels very much like the tropics – temps in the 80s and 800 percent humidity. Hey, I never promised you tropics with an ocean breeze.

The whole ordeal started a while back when we noticed we had some leaks in our attic. We could see at least four, which, in the short term, meant positioning buckets right under the leaks in anticipation of rain. Eventually we had a roofing contractor come out to review the damage. Turns out we had fairly extensive hail damage. Further inspection found that the leaks to the attic were not the only ones. Leaks had begun creeping onto the ceilings of three bedrooms and a main hallway. 

Getting the roof itself changed was no problem. This was just a matter of not minding the constant pounding of hammers and nail guns and making sure not to be surprised when you look out a second story window and see some dude walking past you on the roof.

The big problem was going to be the ceiling repair. We have a popcorn ceiling, which I was unaware I was supposed to hate with a white hot passion. Apparently popcorn ceilings are really loathed by a lot of people. I have always felt rather indifferent about my ceilings. I feel like unless you’re going for, you know, the Sistine Chapel or something, a ceiling is just kind of a ceiling.

So we had to have it de-popcorned before painting, which, I was told, was going to make all the difference in the world by multiple people. In order to de-popcorn, the entire inside of the house was wrapped in plastic, and guys on stilts walked around doing whatever it is they do to make the ceiling smooth. It’s rather loud, and it churns up a ton of stuff in the air.

Which led us to our AC problem. Apparently, our AC is a fairly finicky creature, and it does not do well when all of the vents are blocked and there is a ton of stuff in the air. After a few hours of the house being sealed up (on one of the hottest days of the year), I heard a sound I’d heard before. In the hallway, ever so faintly – Drip. Drip. Drip. I knew exactly what it was. Our AC had frozen up and thus stopped cooling. And it had begun melting into the intake duct thingee where the filter is. I turned the unit off and vacuumed out about an inch of water. Once it appeared to have been done dripping, I let the unit sit for about an hour more. I cut it back on when it reached 80. It ran for about an hour. Drip. Drip. Drip.


We knew we had to get our air guy out, who confirmed that the coils were really dirty, and that he could clean them, but it would probably be best if we waited two days until the crew was done de-popcorning. He suggested we change the filters often. Like, every few hours.

So every few hours, I would turn the unit off, vacuum it out, and change the filter while the house got warmer and warmer with each passing minute.

On the day of the repair, I went into work. My wife, however, was at home, and she was giving me regular updates on the temperature. For each degree the temp climbed about 80, it was clear by my wife’s texts that I would be doing good not to share that it was actually a little chilly in my office that day. “It’s 83. I. Am. Dying. Here.”

Then, after our air guy had been working on the repair and the painters were long gone, I got a text of hope. “IT’S FIXED! IT’S COOLING OFF!” Still probably not a good time to share about the chill in my office.

So now our popcorn ceiling is gone, and I have to say, I can actually tell a difference. It looks really nice, and i’m glad we had it done. And I’m glad I spent the day in my chilly office on the day it topped 85 inside.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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