The House of Comically Large Screws

April 2nd, 2007 by Potato

With the coming of spring came the biannual changing of the smoke detector batteries. This lead us to actually try to find our smoke detectors, since this is the first time we’ve had to do it since moving in. It turns out they were in less than ideal locations: the one for the centre part of the house is behind a drop ceiling concealing the bay windows, and the one for the back half is in the back closet. Not just any closet, of course: to it’s credit it doesn’t have a door we never close the door, so at least the airflow — and smoke detecting properties — aren’t completely inhibited; but it’s also a sloped-roof room, and the detector was right up at the top, in the dead space that the smoke detector manuals say never to place one. The basement, which was just recently renovated to be livable, had none (which is against the firecode, the part of the lease saying there were sufficient detectors notwithstanding).

So, having just got some coupons in the mail for rebates on smoke detectors, I went out to supplement our arsenal. First off, I picked up a photoelectric detector, which is good for placing in or near the kitchen (the two we had were ionization). I should back off a second to elaborate: there are two basic types of detectors: photoelectric and ionization. Different types of fires are detected more efficiently by the different types. The fast-burning fires that occur in most homes, especially bedrooms, (my smoke detector literature says 70% of home fires) are best detected by ionization type detectors, and recommends one of those outside the bedrooms. Slow, smouldering fires are better detected by a photoelectric type; the photoelectric types are also less likely to go off from steam and regular cooking particles (fewer kitchen false positives), so they’re recommended for use near the kitchen.

Anyhow, I bought this detector for the kitchen, and had this rebate form for spending $25 or more on a detector; of course, it came in at $24.99. Which was a bit of a bummer, but even moreso was the realization that the detectors we already had required two batteries each to refresh. So after changing the batteries and putting in the new detector, we decided that the one in the back closet really wasn’t ideally located, so it would have to be moved to someplace that wouldn’t be the absolute last part of the house to fill with smoke. I got up on the ladder, and started to unscrew the base. And unscrewed…. and just kept unscrewing. The thing was held in by 3″ wood screws! I just couldn’t understand why they would go and use screws like that, especially since the detector itself should have come with a pair of much more reasonably sized screws.

In fact, the entire house seems to be constructed from comically large screws. They’re not even all the same length, so it’s not like they bought a bulk case of 3″ screws and just started using them everywhere. The cabinets in the kitchen all have screws coming out the sides and bottoms, the legs for the laundry tub in the basement are maybe a quarter-inch thick, and are held together with 1.5″ screws. Even the picture hangars have nails and/or screws holding them up that are far larger than the task requires.

On the other end of the spectrum is the bed frame we just assembled for the guest bed (and it’s a comfy bed: if we don’t have anyone out to visit soon, I may swap it with my own) and the bolts for it were only about 1/4″ longer than the minimum length needed to get the nuts on…

2 Responses to “The House of Comically Large Screws”

  1. Wayfare Says:

    I always enjoy reading your posts about our house, you have such an interesting way of observing things.

    For instance, you observed that the closet with the smoke detector in it doesn’t have a door, when in fact most people would have observed that it does have a door, and that it’s just been left open.

  2. Potato Says:

    LOL, there is a door there. It’s just never been closed in the 4 months we’ve lived here! Geez, that’s a really terrible place for the landlord to have put it then.

    Fortunately, I’m a scientist, so I have a keen sense of differentiation.

    Or was that supposed to be observation…