How to lose 400 square feet in a jiffy

My house lost about 400 usable square feet today.

I got my wife a new chandelier for Christmas, and today I was finally going to install it. The last part of the old chandelier was a little bracket. I noticed the ceiling sagged about an inch or two as this small piece came out.

Feeling around, I found an amazing 3″ gap between the bottom of the outlet box and the top of the ceiling drywall. Yikes!

As I pondered my next step, I heard nails pop as the ceiling sagged a little further.

I tried pushing up, but after about 1″ of travel, I heard awful sounds.

I went across the street and asked a neighbor what he thought. As we were talking, my wife ran out the front door and exclaimed that a huge crack formed above her head. Indeed, a five-plus foot crack formed near our ceiling fan and ran crookedly towards the dining room area.

At that point, the neighbor was sure the ceiling was a lost cause. His advice confirmed my suspicion: replacement will happen, get your stuff out now!

My wife and I immediately scurried around the room to remove as many exposed items as possible

10 minutes of scurrying later, as I was putting our TV in the hallway, CRACK CRACK BANG! Most of the main room’s ceiling fell to the floor. Nobody was hit, fortunately.

Here’s a picture taken about 10 minutes after the crash:

All the speckles are airborne Rockwool insulation particles.

Similar shot without the flash:

Looking to the front windows:

Our buffet table:

Looking in from the garage:

Jennifer was standing right inside the door at this point and quickly ducked outside when she heard the collapsing. I had to clear this out later so that we could shut that door.

This is where our TV goes:

Good thing I got it out!

Most of the ceiling is gone, but the fan amazingly appears undamaged:

This is the ceiling box that held the fixture I removed:

The light fixture was the keystone holding up the entire ceiling! This ceiling was a disaster waiting to happen!

Since it’s exposed now, I am going to replace that outlet box with a modern fan support box.

The ceiling fan may have stopped the ceiling collapse. Our Ikea bookshelves are undamaged:

Right after the crash, I sent Alec and Jennifer to Home Depot to get heavy duty plastic sheeting that’s opaque (so I don’t have to look at it) and painter’s tape. Our floor plan allows us to seal off that room and still have a functional house:

Just minus about 400 square feet:

I have guys coming in tomorrow to give repair estimates, and I have already filed a claim with our insurance. Hopefully this won’t hurt our pocketbooks too badly!

How to force EVDO in Sprint’s 1X zones

Driving between the Mississippi towns of Starkville and Flowood on MS 25, I was surprised that my cell phone’s pokey 1X data service went to high speed EVDO.

It turns out that this is a roam area, possibly using Verizon. The gray blob between Columbus and Jackson in the coverage map at right is classified as “mobile broadband roaming” on Sprint’s Coverage Tool. (Verizon’s own coverage map doesn’t have a special broadband area that corresponds to the gray blob, so it may not be Verizon after all?)

Once I got into Flowood, MS, I reentered Sprint’s pokey 1X network. Argh.

On a whim, I forced my phone into roam mode, and I get EVDO even in Sprint’s 1X area! So it appears that if you only have 1X access, you may still be able to get high speed EVDO by forcing roaming.

UPDATE: I got EVDO on I-20 all the way to Van, TX by forcing the phone to roam mode. Otherwise, it would have been 1X the entire way.