It was finally time to replace our old furnace and air conditioner with new, high-efficiency models. We were very happy with the longevity of the old system -- 25 years -- but it was costing us a lot in energy and we wanted to avoid a breakdown during the hot Texas summer.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be much of a project, but the only access to the crawl space containing the furnace and air conditioner was a tiny door, one foot wide and three feet tall. The furnace must have been installed first, and then the interior walls built around it.

I opened up a wall to give the service people a reasonable chance of replacing the system. (That room was next to be remodeled anyway.) We instructed them to give us a week between the removal of the old system and the installation of the new system, so we would have time to re-insulate the space.