Perfect for a Ceiling Cat - Unfortunately
September 4, 2014 11:46 AM   Subscribe

The metal ceiling grate/register immediately over the bed is precariously loose. The thought of this thing crashing down onto my head at night is... keeping me up at night. I need an adhesive - stat!

The metal ceiling grate/register immediately over our bed is precariously loose and one side is dangling about 1/8" down. It appears that hole in the drywall was cut a LITTLE too big (long ago), so the screw on one side has almost nothing to grab onto, and now is just kinda resting there, against the rough drywall edge. This grate goes into the room's main heating/cooling duct, so air is pushing through there almost constantly.

The grate looks more or less like this.

I want to firmly adhere the outside edge of the metal grate up onto that piece of ceiling drywall, so the screw situation becomes irrelevant. The edge of the grate is not flat - it has a bevel - so I think I need something like Silly Putty that can both adhere and conform to the shape, then harden. It does not need to be air-tight but it does need to be secure.

Do I want Sugru? Some kind of quick-dry epoxy? Caulk? Magic? Bonus if I can order whatever online ASAP or if it's easily available in an urban hardware store. Thanks!
posted by nkknkk to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Sticking stuff to drywall doesn't work all that well.

If you take it off, you should be able to see what's behind the drywall where the screws are. If it's anything but drywall and air - duct metal, a ceiling joist, whatever - then you'll have better luck anchoring it in place with new screws than you will with any adhesive.
posted by mhoye at 11:51 AM on September 4, 2014

If I were to use an adhesive I would probably just use 3M's double sided tape, which should be flexible enough to conform to the bevel. Maybe you could pack some clay or putty behind it to reduce the bevel. They make it in various strengths.

That said, what I would actually do is use some sort of drywall anchor screw instead of whatever they're using now. There are various types, some just use a plastic insert so the screw has something to grab onto, others use an expanding mechanism that grabs onto the back of the drywall when you screw it in.
posted by bondcliff at 11:53 AM on September 4, 2014

If I'm not mistaken, the issue is that the screwhole in the grate lines up with nothing behind it, right? No drywall at all, no joists, no whatever, because the hole in the drywall is too big? So a better screw is irrelevant, as there's literally nothing to screw it into.
posted by brainmouse at 11:55 AM on September 4, 2014

If it's sitting reasonably flush, and looks okay, then the issue you need to address is safety. Take a 2-ft piece of wire, and wrap one end through a screw-hole in the grate, and the other end through a screw-hole in the ductwork. Now, no matter what the screws do, it will never fall on your bed. The most it will do is swing precariously about a foot from the ceiling.
posted by aimedwander at 11:56 AM on September 4, 2014

You want to leave it accessible in case you need to remove it, so even if you could easily stick stuff to drywall it might not be the best idea.

One side screws into the ceiling just fine, right? What I would do is unscrew the thing, bolt a c bracket the width of the ceiling material (like this probably?) to the loose side through that screw hole, lip it over the ceiling drywall piece it's supposed to attach to, then securely screw in the other side.

(Because it sounds to me like there is no actual ceiling part to drive the screw through on that side...if the screw hole itself is just too big, do what bondcliff suggests.)
posted by phunniemee at 11:56 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get a strip of wood an inch or two longer than the size of the hole, and make a little pilot hole halfway along. Place this strip above the missing screw-hole so that it rests on the drywall at each end. Then you can screw through the grate hole into the wood. This will pull the grate tightly up to the ceiling with no danger of the thing falling down.
posted by pipeski at 12:02 PM on September 4, 2014

Those registers have two screws, one on each side. If the other side's screwed in properly (get on a ladder or your bed and tug on the register gently to see), it won't fall. It might look wobbly, but if you're not mechanically inclined enough to put a properly-angled screw through the side with an apparently ineffective screw, I wouldn't worry about doing any of the other things people are suggesting. It's not going to fall on you.
posted by resurrexit at 12:07 PM on September 4, 2014

I can't fathom needing to remove this grate. It hasn't been removed in 20 years.

brainmouse is right - it's impossible to use an anchor or anything. The edge of drywall that the screw was dubiously screwed into has disintegrated into drywall dust over the years.

The grate leads to a metal duct, there is no access to joists. I can't put anything across the hole (a la pipeski) because the hole is exactly the size of the duct.

I wouldn't worry about this whole situation, really, except the gap seems to be getting bigger and either hot or cold air is being pushed through the grate at a fairly strong gust-factor, off and on (as the heat/AC cycles), 300 days a year or so. I have no real confidence in the integrity of the second screw.

Since I am not (a) very handy (b) interested in doing intensive over-my-head repairs while standing on my bed, I'm still holding out hope for a sticky solution...
posted by nkknkk at 1:35 PM on September 4, 2014

sugru is definitely not going to work for this task.

If there's a stud on the crumbly side anywhere nearby, you could always get a really long screw and screw it at an angle. That's probably the easiest solution.

Another easy solution is to just take off the grate. Ugly, but easy. A temporary fix until you get something better?

Since you want a sticky solution, I think gorilla tape would do the job - it's like uber duct tape. Take the grate off, clean the back of it really well with rubbing alcohol so the tape can stick (and the side of the duct), tape the backside of the grate to the duct on the side that's messed up, and screw the screw back in on the other side. If you're careful it shouldn't be noticeable from the front.
posted by zug at 3:29 PM on September 4, 2014

String/rope is another possibility if there's something to tie it to anywhere around.
posted by zug at 3:31 PM on September 4, 2014

If there's a duct, the grate should screw to that, not the drywall. Look closely and see if there is a metal flange on the duct for a screw to screw into. Can you just tighten that screw that's up there now? Are you sure it hasn't just vibrated loose over the years and is still screwed into something solid and just needs to be tightened?

If it is just screwed into the drywall and the drywall has crumbled away over the years, just drill a hole through the flange where there is solid drywall underneath and screw it in there.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 3:50 PM on September 4, 2014

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