Saturday, April 18, 2009

"The Plan"

Plan A: As soon as we get the house, get rid of the octopus in the basement: the really old gravity furnace. Get a really efficient new furnace.

Wait! Wait!

Plan B: Get rid of the octopus (or not), but put in a new, better water heater and hook it up to a radiant heat system throughout the house, then later on we can get solar panels on the house to power the hot water heater and our heat will be provided by the sun!!

Wait. This plan is way too expensive and not very practical for us unfortunately. Back to plan A.

Wait! It turns out these old Octopuses (they don't make them like they used to) last forever and ours is probably fine.

Plan C: Get the octopus plugged into gas and we're good to go!


Plan C1: in addition to the octopus, lets get a pellet stove for the living room in the house. We can close off the heating to the living room and top floor and the pellet stove will heat those. That way we'll have redundant heating systems and at least one source of heat if the other fails. Perfect!

Slight problem with pilot light staying on in the octopus.

Plan C2: replace the octopus generator and if that doesn't work do a modification by replacing the machine bits that keep the pilot light going.

"Slight" problem there: This octopus is so old that it doesn't have some safety things so the gas company won't even work with the old beast (unless we had some special door made for it, for thousands of dollars). So, scratch that plan.

back to plan A.


Plan D: Let's just get rid of the octopus and put in a pellet stove on the main floor anyway. One guy we talked to said that it should heat the house fine. Super!

Wait. It may give off heat, but the basement is currently at 40 degrees and like 90% humidity. If there is no heat source down there, no amount of heating upstairs will help. The floor will be cold and the cold will travel up. Hmmm.

Plan E: Let's put a big pellet stove in the basement!!

Okay, that's kind of silly and defeats the purpose of having a lovely stove. We don't want to visit it in the basement.

Plan A: Get rid of the octopus in the basement: the really old gravity furnace. Get a really efficient new furnace.

That's it. That's the plan. (We're pretty sure...)


Jeanine said...

You are hilarious! Sounds like problem solving/decision making overseas... but you can probably get it done much faster here.

Paul said...

The octopus is almost certainly slathered with asbestos, so make sure whoever removes it does it properly. Otherwise you have a whole other set of problems.

Aimee said...

Yep, it's got asbestos. One guy said it didn't have too much. But we'll definitely be paying someone to abate that and be careful so we don't have to deal with it. It will certainly make our basement much more spacious!

Mom said...

How about a dehumidifier for the basement, so that you can keep it kind of cool for the root cellar, and put extra insulation in the ceiling between the first floor and basement. So, still going for the pellet stove huh? Better buy a generator also.

Aimee said...

Hey mom, we've been running a dehumidifer but it hasn't sucked a drop of moisture from the air. We think it's too cold. Thanks for the idea about the insulation though - we're thinking about that. And I don't know if we'll do a pellet stove or not - we're still thinking.

Paul said...

Aimee - your comments on the blog page do not show up, as they're black text on a black background. Just an FYI =)

I recall (being brain damaged you might not want to trust my recall) from my dehumidifier manual that the lowest effective temperature is around 60F. If you operate lower than that, it will run, but do nothing. And it may freeze the coils. They make special low temp dehumidifiers if you really want to run it in cold weather.

Also, keep in mind that dehumidifiers create a LOT of waste heat (they're basically air conditioners with no external air flow) so your basement will get very warm if you have a damp basement.

Last point: we did the radiant floor route and insulated the joist bays above the basement. The result is a basement that's thermally isolated from the rest of the house and stays in the 50's all winter, but does not suck heat away from the main floor. It works well, and was an inexpensive solution. If you want to know what materials I used, let me know.

Aimee said...

Thanks Paul! (I know the comments are black on black - I haven't be able to fix that, other than changing the background color of the whole blog. Grr. Sorry about that.)

Thanks for the info on the dehumidifier. I was guessing it wouldn't work at such low temps.
We also found out that dehumidifiers suck a lot of energy. I'd rather not use one on a permanent basis, so we're still looking into that.

Your radiant heat option sounds interesting. I'll mention it to Jeremy and we might send you an email for more info. Thanks!