Thursday, December 31, 2015

Not the Low Key Week I Hoped For

Every so often homeowner stuff catches up with us, and with an off-grid house here's a lot more stuff to pop out and bite you in the butt. I have moisture in the crawlspace AND a leaking roof, the homeowner  equivalent of a headache and an upset stomach.

The roof is simple enough…climb a ladder and start stapling $20 bills to the area around the leak. The crawlspace is trickier, because it effects the overall energy balance of the house. Between last winter and this winter, we've seen a significant loss of efficiency on the under-floor heating system. Loss of efficiency means that the system, specifically the pumps that push the heated water through the system, are running all the time. In the daytime, no problemo — the solar system is just super.

At night, though, the electrical system draws from the battery bank, and unlike last winter they're getting drained every night. The propane generator then cuts in to charge the battery. This winter, the generator is running for 2 hours almost every day, easily twice as much as last winter with similar weather. That has drastically increased our propane usage.

Sigh…we have lots of experts sorting through solutions. Of course no one agrees on anything. Sigh….


Unknown said...

Your house is not covered by a warranty?

Anonymous said...

Check the widget accelerator that controlls the in-house chingadera.

Unknown said...

It's the framitz, it's always the damn framitz. Happy F'n New Year.

Ben Downs said...

Welcome to country livin'!

Anonymous said...

Clearly the flux capacitor has rotated out of lunar alignment. Use the Binford 5000 multi-system rotatioal tuner to address the issue. Should fix you right up! In the mean time thanks for the great work you do on the shows and this blog. Happy new year.

Home on the Range said...

I live in a 100 year old house. 1200 square foot main floor and 1200 square foot walk out basement which is wood and metal shop and reloading area. Guess which one I redid and re-wired first. Always an adventure.

I hope you and your two and four legged family have a wonderful New Year. Thanks for the friendship and support.

Sasquatch said...

Time to buy a big ol Airstream trailer. No country folk true blue without one on the property.

Anonymous said...

I'm still amazed at the number of crappy roof-jobs that are being put on today. I'm also surprised at the number of crappy architectural designs that encourage leaks rather than avoid them. For an industry that really has perfected "good roofing" technology and materials, they still employ a lot of clowns passing themselves off as professionals.

As far as crawl-spaces are concerned, the best way to fix the moisture problem is to not have a crawl-space to begin with. If you absolutely have to have one, for some legitimate reason, such as you're living on solid rock, then there are some things that you can do. First and foremost, you have to seal the area at the floor and not at the ceiling. The walls should also be moisture impervious. The entire area also needs to be ventilated using natural convection, especially in an off-the-grid app' like yours. There are a lot of people out there selling solutions to the wet crawl-space problem, but to properly fix that situation, you just about have to go back to the "do it right the first time" level.

Good Luck AND Happy New Year!

Life Member

Rastus said...

Do the pumps always pump from a hot reservoir (or heated source) or can they pump bypassing the hot reservoir (or pump without "the heat turned on"). Seems like there may be a solenoid sticking somewhere leaving the pumps on once they've heated things up.


Anonymous said...

Please clarify what you mean by losing efficiency in the under-floor heating system. Is it just that the pumps are running more? If so, the moisture that you're seeing in the crawl-space may be what is being liberated from the saturated ground under it. This water may now be conducting your radiant heat away from the tubes and into the ground rather than up into the floor. Heat doesn't always rise. Energy seeks the lowest possible energy state (sort of like Democrats) and will also conduct away down into the cooler/ lower energy-state ground. In any case, the water must be eliminated as a start. I don't know if your builder put in any sort of footing drainage, or not. If so, it probably is not designed properly and that's why you're seeing water. If not, then that will be something that needs to be done as part of the water elimination strategy.


Life Member

pigpen51 said...

I never had experience with your type setup. Now, my son just bought a huge log house with a geothermal, forced water type heating system with a boiler heated by an outside woodstove. Located here in west MI. He moved back from the peoples republic of CA in June. The first thing he did was to buy an AK 47. He now has 4 or 5 pistols, his latest being a CZ 2075 rami. Beautiful gun, well made and handles nice. I took him and his wife out and taught her some basic firearm safety and got her interested in shooting. She was a Cali girl. She bought a cheap .22 Phoenix from me for target shooting, then took a hunting safety course on her own so she would be safe and confident to shoot. She is not a hunter, but loves to shoot.
Another convert for 2nd Amendment sanity. It must be something in the water out there.

Mop said...

Water under the crawl space may be a sign you have a leak, lower water volumes means slower heat transfer so the pumps run longer. A leaky roof can make your insulation wet, that transfers heat faster.