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crawl through air ducts die hard Christmas movie

Important HVAC Moments in Cinema: Die Hard

In the spirit of creating sparkling holiday conversation, ask your friends and family the following question: “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” It’s set on Christmas Eve and a Christmas party is featured. Die Hard even has a minor character wearing a festive ugly Christmas sweater that says “ho-ho-ho”! This question always brings a mixed bag of opinions, often highly spirited. You will, no doubt, be reminded of why you love your family members and how precious holidays truly are. When the dinner rolls stop flying and the cranberry jelly is wiped off the walls, you can gather back around the table to ask the question on everyone’s mind- can you actually crawl through air ducts like John McClane?


Air Duct Anatomy

Unlike the movie Die Hard suggests, commercial air ducts are not mainly used for conveying heroes from one cinematic fight to another. Rigid ductwork is the ductwork featured in the movie. It is shaped from sheet metal and typically attached to the building with hanger straps. These hanger straps support the weight of the ductwork and the air that passes through it. It is doubtful that it has been stress-tested to carry a fully grown adult man, must less any equipment he may be hauling along with him as he travels through the duct. Also, the sheet metal used to create rigid ductwork is constructed for efficient air comfort, not travel comfort. It would be easy to get covered in cuts and injuries from any sharp edges within the sealed ductwork. 

However, the best choice for Nakatomi Tower was rigid ductwork. Other available options wouldn’t have accommodated a rag-tag hero at all. Flex ducts feature a spiral of metal encased in a flexible material and may be insulated. Fabric ducts are another option for ductwork, where a tube of fabric is used for ducts hung by tension wires. Even if the size of these ductworks could fit John McClane, it wouldn’t be comfortable. He would have had a much more awkward time making his way forward in his daring rescue. Heroes that kick out air vent covers to surprise their enemies are cool. Guys that get caught up in a heavy fabric tube that probably fell through the drop ceiling are not. That’s just how cinema works.

Even if the metal ductwork could support the weight of a person, other obstacles could come into play. Many large systems would have fans installed along the interior of the ductwork to boost airflow as it travels from its origin within the system. These could become extremely dangerous hazards for anyone trying to face metal fans spinning at high speeds. On top of that, the ductwork system could have included “burglar bars.” These are steel bars set into the frame of a duct in a crisscross pattern, blocking anyone trying to crawl through the air ducts. Unless John McClane was willing to drag welding equipment or a circular saw along with him, he’d be out of luck.


Yippie-Kai-Yay, Mold and Dust Issues

The building used for Nakatomi Tower was in fact the Fox Plaza, which had completed construction in 1987. Die Hard was released in 1988, which means that the ductwork of our fictional Nakatomi Tower had seen at least a year of service before that fateful Christmas Eve. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems require the maintenance that a licensed service provider can offer. This is specially true when dealing with the amount of air moved through such a massive building. Commercial buildings provide air comfort to huge amounts of space, and with all that air intake and outake, they deal with all the things contained in the building’s air. 

HVAC systems must deal with the mold, mildew, allergens, and other contaminants that pass through a system as air is circulated. The Nakatomi Plaza ductwork is nearly spotless, which may not be the case in real life. Ductwork can accumulate particles that can affect performance, so it is important to work with your Air Conditioner (AC) service provider to make sure your system is as clean as possible. Maintaining and replacing filters is a key part of keeping unwanted dirt, dust, and other particles out of a HVAC system and the addition of air purifiers including methods such as the Phenomenal Aire™ Cold Plasma Generator or the RGF’s Reme Halo in-duct air purifier can help provide cleaner air throughout buildings of all sizes. Integrating an air purifying system into an HVAC system ensures that the air provided is at its best quality, and will keep your ductwork clean enough for company. 


Happy Trails, Rats

John McClane was also lucky that among the many villains he had to fight, rodents weren’t on the list. Ductwork that has fallen victim to rust or simply the driving instinct of pests can become infested. Rats and other vermin like to burrow into what appear to be safe, dry spaces. Imagine trying to save a group of hostages while dealing with snakes, skunks, and racoons along the way! Signs of pest activity including off smells or the sound of something moving inside an AC duct. If you experience these, contact your HVAC service provider to come to your rescue. 

SEE ALSO: Cleaning Air Naturally with Cold Air Plasma Filtration Systems

Professionals Only, Please

Whether a forty story tall skyscraper or single family household, HVAC systems and ductworks are best left to the professionals. On Hollywood movie sets, there are stunt people ready to kick, crawl, and bust their way through carefully crafted fake ducts. These are made just the right size for cameras, sound equipment, crew and actors to navigate with ease. When it comes to your home’s HVAC system, it’s always best to leave it in the trusted care of your local, licensed AC system service provider. Although they may not come in with high-octane sound track blaring behind them, your service providers can be the real heroes when it comes to the installation, maintenance, and repair of your home HVAC unit. 

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