Demolition Man

As I ripped lathe after lathe down from the ceiling in our basement, cleaning a sixteen-inch wide strip running the width of the house for our new AC central trunk, I found myself humming the Police’s “Demolition Man” for the first and probably last time. I wasn’t singing it, because my face mask wouldn’t let me open my mouth wide enough.

We have probably found the only HVAC contractor in the world who doesn’t like to do demolition, and the result was a merry two hours figuring out how to take part of a plaster ceiling down. The location for the trunk is planned to run alongside the interior partition wall in our basement that divides the utility and workshop/storage room from the library. Since the ceiling is finished throughout the basement, we had to take the plaster down to make room for the trunk. After much trial and error, we arrived on the following sequence of steps to clear out the plaster:

  1. Locate the nearest crack running along the outside edge of the cut (this was a remarkably good way to locate the “keys” running between the lathe, which was the right place to cut).
  2. Use a Sawzall with a demolition blade (brilliant on plaster, absolutely useless on lathe) to cut along the outside edge of the demo zone.
  3. Use a crowbar to break the plaster off until the end of the lathe, where it nails to the joist, comes into view.
  4. Go to town with the crowbar on the lathe, bringing down a shower of plaster and dust on everyone in reach.

(About the last point: cleanup is obviously a big challenge with a project like this. We used a dustpan and broom, and a new 12-gallon shop vac, promptly nicknamed Artoo, for the floor. For the workers, safety goggles, a hat, gloves, and a mask designated for drywall and insulation work. Plus a thorough vacuuming from head to foot and a shower when everything is done.)

At the end of this, my hat is off to all the other housebloggers who made plaster removal look easy. I was still picking grit out of my ears after the shower.