February 28, 2015
Foundation Snow - Insulation or Not?
In some of my pictures of snow at the house, Cop Car suggested that the insulation value of the snow against the foundation must be very helpful in keeping the house warmer. Unfortunately, that would not be the case. I have a roof that is made for a more southern home; not only is it fairly flat, it has wide eves at 3 feet. This really works well to keep out the summer sun while allowing plenty of winter sun in, protect the ramp from snow, and protecting the foundation from rain. I really like the wide eves for that reason. However, the snow pack is away from the house, except for where I have either snow blown in that direction or shoveled - and both those spots are near the garage, which is not very helpful for insulation.
This is the side of the garage. Sure, if the garage was fairly air tight at the door, and in back, the snow might be helpful - but neither of those cases are true. The snow is blown in that direction while snow blowing the path to the oil tank - just for the little help it might provide.
The front of the house is mostly barren, except the part closest to the garage, from my shoveling the snow from the roof dumping (I don't blow snow that way because I don't want high-velocity projectiles aimed at the bay window. Oh, and if you look in the lower left corner, you will see a mound of snow on the steps. I took the pictures about 25 minutes after I was done snow blowing - which was about 5 minutes after the roof dumped and I had to put my boots back on to go shovel.
On the side that the pellet stoves are on, it is mostly clear for about a foot before the snow pack starts - mostly of that is from the roof dumping. And, what little snow is there, has slid down the berm from the roof snow. I did have to shovel out some of the berm closest to the lower pipe (the Harman in the basement), to make sure there was no impedance to the exhaust.
Of course the back side of the house does not have snow around the foundation because of the ramp.
I'm sure the snow does provide wind relief for the sill of the house, and some insulation value to the garage, just not as much as Cop Car imagined from looking at pictures taken from a distance.
February 21, 2015
Couple of Wild Bird Pics
Taken by my cheap, old digital camera on Sunday during the bird counts
Purple Finch - distinction from house finch is the bars on the chest of females and the red on the back of males with the notched tail.
Male Downey Woodpecker
Some sort of Sparrow - I want to say it is a chipping sparrow, but there is not enough info for me to say it definitely so (had a bunch of these)
Record Year for Birds
This winter, both the NH Audubon Society Winter Bird Survey, and the Cornell / Audubon Back Yard Bird Count were on the same weekend. This pleased me as I had a record number of species to report (for me) and I could use that for both counts. There were also sparrows that I wasn't confident of the identification, and some I couldn't even guess or find in a book to my satisfaction. Without further ado, here is my list for this year:
- Blue Jay - 2
- Crow - 2
- Goldfinch - 16
- Chickadee - 2
- Cardinal - 3 (1M & 2F
- Purple Finch - 12 (Cornell tells me that is an unusually high number, but I am positive they were purple, not house finches)
- WB Nuthatch - 1 (too bad I didn't see both of them that are usually around)
- Pine Siskin - 4
- Junco - 2 (a really low number as far as I am concerned)
- Starling - 1 (first one I have seen in NH and was thumbing thru my bird book when I looked up saw the bird on the railing, looked down and I was on that page in the book - funny how that worked out)
- Tufted Titmouse - 2 (usually have 3)
- Downey Woodpecker -1 male
- Mourning Dove - 4
- Pileated Woodpecker - 1 (seen pounding on a dead tree in the empty lot/swamp next door. Was super excited to see it!)
- Sparrows of indeterminate species - around 20
I reported today on the Cornell BYBC site, and will mail in my list to the NH Audubon on Monday
February 16, 2015
Snow, Yeah We Got That
Cop Car asked if we were getting any of the blizzards that have hit the area. Technically we haven't, although we have had plenty of snow and wind. We've had major storms in each of the last 4 weeks, along with minor storms in between.
A few pictures from Sunday when there was 14-15" of snow on the railing of the ramp:
I was actually somewhat happy about the high wind on Sunday as it helped throw the snow over the banks. We have been lucky, parts of MA and the seacoast of NH have gotten hammered worse than this area so far this season.
February 14, 2015
House of Warm Critters
Last night it was -7 or -8 at 8 pm. Looked to be getting a really cold night, so I put the upstairs pellet stove in T-stat mode. Now, that sounds like a thermostat turns it on and off, but that would be SmartStat mode (which it normally is in - by the way Cop Car, the digital thermostat works great - thanks!) T-Stat mode is slightly different; I set the highest heat output it is allowed to get to (I set at #3, but the rang is 1-5) then if there is a call for heat, the stove goes directly to #3 output. If there is no call for heat, it idles at #1 output. So, it never goes out.
Since the thermostat is in the office, closer to the stove, it stays warmer than the bedroom by 2-4 degrees on a normal day. However, with the frigid temps, the bedroom temperature was getting to the lowest it has been, 66, since I put the stove in. I figured it would get even lower thru the night as the cold from the garage infiltrated the floor. So, by putting it on T-stat, there would be steady heat for the fan to push into the bedroom (dang, I should go into a big explanation of how the heat gets to the other side of the house, but I won't). This worked well and the bedroom was 68 when I awoke this morning.
Anyway, to back up at 8 pm last night - I came into the living room after checking the outside thermometer to see that Fuzzy looked like he knew how cold it was outside and was getting prepared in case the house got cold
Tory and Birdie seemed to be more confident that no such thing would happen.
And yes, I am staying toasty warm with the pellet stoves going - at half the fuel cost of when I used propane.
Best Insulated Wall of the House
Last Saturday I had a CPR class, that took a good portion of the day (last time I trained for CPR was when I went to babysitting class when I was 10 or 12). They had a portable defibrillator as part of the course. The instructor asked if anyone had not seen one used before and I was the only one (everyone else was renewing their CPR card). So, he handed it to me and asked me to figure it out. Very easy - boy have things come a long way when you can do such a thing with a 5 pound machine that retails fro less than $1k.
Well, once I got home, I started working on the basement foundation wall. Although I had R7 rigid foam on the wall, I still needed to get the studs in (the frame was there - just no studs) and then add fiberglass insulation on top of the foam.
I had already gotten the lumber, which had been cut to 8' so that it would fit in my car. I then used the sliding miter saw to cut them to the actual length (63") and proceeded to install them every 16 inches.
You will notice in this picture, that I missed taping the seam between the bottom foam boards, I actually knocked the studs out (they weren't screwed in yet, taped up the seams, then reinstalled the studs.
Then I installed the fiberglass batting. I tore off the bottom portion of the paper in case water comes from the garage, it won't soak up thru the paper.
Now I am at a stand still in that room. I can't put up sheetrock until I tear out the wall next to the garage, but I won't do that until it gets a bit warmer outside. Plus, I need to get sheetrock, which I will have to arrange delivery of since my car can't handle anything that large.
As to the title of this post, this is the best insulated wall that I have; R7 rigid foam insulation and R13 fiberglass insulation on top. Kind of sad since it will be one of the least used rooms in the house (as far as time spent in it goes anyway).
February 07, 2015
Demolition in the Basement
On the 24th of January (why yes, I am late getting this recorded), I started demolition in the future work out room. That is in the one room of the basement that was counted as "finished" by the town. It had walls of paneling but still has the concrete floor and has been used as storage and a spray paint room.
So, I started by taking off the paneling in the wall between it and the shop. I was surprised to find insulation, in the wall. Everything was in relatively good shape, so I'll do no further work until I sheetrock.
I took out the part of the ceiling that was next to the foundation as I knew I would have to insulate the sill - plus, there were several holes in that part of the ceiling, so I would have needed to replace it anyway. And, insulating the sill was one of my main goals anyway.
Then I took off the baseboard along the foundation wall, and found that the bottom of the paneling and framework was very rotted from moisture
Once again I was surprised to find insulation (R11) behind the paneling. However, the insulation was moldy on both the paper and the fiberglass (good thing I'm not allergic to mold!).
The wall between the work out room and the heater room wasn't in as bad a shape, but some of the insulation was moldy, and one piece of insulation was completely missing (wtf?).
And to add interesting things, there was an extra electrical box next to the active electrical box.
Once everything was cleaned up (I didn't demo the 4th wall as it has the garage behind it, and it is way too cold to be letting in all that air), I gave the foundation wall a couple of coats of Drylok, to keep moisture from penetrating the concrete block, insulated the sill, installed new frame base (painted with waterproofing, then glued 1" closed cell foam insulation to the wall (R7).
After the glue had dried, during the week I taped off the seams and caulked the edges - both sides, the top and the bottom. And there it sat until I determined my next plan of attack - which had to wait as last weekend I was very busy with other things that had nothing to do with work on the house.
Back in January, the day of the Garage Party, we had a light snowfall. Nothing major, with fluffy snow and no winds. Apparently all the heavy snows and freezing rain storms from earlier in the year had taken their toll. Sometime either while I was at the party, or later that night, the willow tree lost a large limb.
I saw it the next day when I went out to get the Sunday paper. In these pictures, it doesn't look overly large, but that is because it is beside a very large tree. One picture is from the road, the other from the house (obviously I was inside).
I texted the EX that I had a limb down and if he wanted it for firewood to come get it. He did about 10 days later, just before a fairly large snow storm.
He wasn't prepared for the size, thinking it was a small limb, but he got about ten 5-6 foot logs, of good diameter off of it, plus several smaller pieces. The small stuff that he didn't take I piled up in the backyard, making a nice brush pile for the birds and other wildlife (no pics, sorry). The logs were fairly light for their size, which means that the branch was pretty much dead; willows are very thirsty trees and grow very well in wet or boggy areas (hence, it grows well about 10 feet from the swamp next door).
The willow continuously sheds limbs, although not nearly so large, but it is very messy and obviously in distress since at least one large branch was dead so I will need to see about having it taken down next summer - or at least checked by an arborist to see if any other limbs need to come off.
I was very happy that the limb fell toward the fence, and not on the house.
January 31, 2015
No, not my luck - the Town of Henniker just lost almost its entire fleet of snow removal equipment due to a fire at the town barn. Henniker is next to my town, and I know several people who live there (the town, not the barn - LOL). There is a snowstorm expected Monday that should dump 12-18" of white stuff on us.
I hoped this morning my town, and other surrounding towns would pick up portions of Henniker streets. Then late this afternoon, I was on my way to Manchester, and passed 3-4 state plow trucks heading the other way. I wonder at the time if they were headed to Henniker as loaners.
On tonight's evening news, I found that both my hope and my guess were true; several towns, including mine, will help cover some of the routes, and the state is supplying some equipment too.
Although they like to say that this is good old Yankee generosity, it is my belief that the same would hold true in Kansas (neighbor helping neighbor), or any other state.
EDIT: Here is the NHDOT FB page describing the help that Henniker will get.
January 24, 2015
Plenty of Heat
After picking up 15 more bags of pellets yesterday, I rearranged the pellet pallets. Each row of pellets is 5 bags.
All the black bags on the right are FSU's (not that you care, just so you can tell what I'm talking about further in the post) and those are what I burn in the upstairs stove. All the bags on the left are different kinds that I use in the downstairs stove.
Each bag is 40 pounds. In picking up just the 15 bags of FSU's yesterday, I had to handle them 3 times; load them onto cart at store, transfer from cart to car, transfer from car to house. So in effect, just those 15 bags was a total of moving 1800 pounds yesterday.
But wait, that isn't the whole story. See, that stack on the left used to be split between the two pallets and 20 bags of FSU's that I already had were on top of the left side pallet. Last night I unloaded the approximately 1/2 ton of mixed pellets off the right side pallet onto the floor. I then started filling it with FSU's, starting with those from my car, then topping it of with the FSUs that were on the left side pallet. Then I stacked the 1/2 ton of mixed pellets on the left side.
So, I moved 1000 pounds twice, 600 pounds 3 times, and 800 pounds once. Lets see, that translates to 2000 + 1800 + 800 = 4600 pounds of pellets that I moved yesterday.
Nope, didn't need any workout with weights yesterday.