Monday, March 10 2008
Today I disposed of a huge accumulation of styrofoam popcorn by injecting it into three different interjoist bays in the floor separating the living room from the basement guest room suite (the house's former master bedroom suite). I've done this before with styrofoam popcorn; a year and a half ago when I was sheetrocking the garage and discovered that the part the previous owners had already sheetrocked hadn't been insulated, I drilled holes at the tops of the interstud bays and stuffed in styrofoam peanuts by hand until they reached the top.
But stuffing styrofoam peanuts through a small hole in sheetrock isn't easy, particularly if the hole into which you are stuffing them is in the ceiling. So today I built myself a quick and dirty tool to help with the process. I took a two-inch diameter piece of PVC pipe, inserted fittings and a piece of screendoor screen over one end of it, using progressively smaller PVC adapter fittings until the pipe diameter was down to a size compatible with a vacuum cleaner hose. Then I used my shopvac to slurp the pipe full of popcorn all the way back to the screen. Finally I hooked the hose up to the shopvac's blow port and, holding the unscreened tip of the loaded pipe against the hole in the ceiling, blew all the popcorn up into the void overhead. I didn't realize until I was using it that my tool worked exactly the same way as an elephant trunk.
This system wasn't perfect; some popcorn escaped, and some had to be prodded to keep from clumping together. But the popcorn mostly went in, and it went in quickly. The biggest problem was the size of the pipe; it didn't hold very much per suck-blow cycle, so it took many cycles to empty a box full of styrofoam. Eventually I upgraded my system to a four foot long piece of four inch drainage tile (the kind without the holes), and was delighted to discover that the shopvac was able to slurp that big pipe completely full of popcorn and then just as easily disgorge the payload into the ceiling.
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