French Drain!

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Well, we got the French drain in. It was way more massive than we thought, took twice as much gravel, but the ground looks great and I think we’re in business to be able to absorb all of the water … Continue reading

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Geothermal Build

Tomorrow we start with the installation of our geothermal system. This is mostly the mundane part where we rough in the vents, just as we would with a standard system. The magic comes when we plumb in the heat pump.

And speaking of magic, we need to make ~5,000 gallons of water per day disappear. We were planning to pump it into the Lake (see my previous post) and I believe that our DEC permit application is wending its way through the hallowed halls, but we are considering an alternate idea.


French Drain

Our soil is very porous. During our flow test we pumped 10 gallons per minute from our well into our septic system (i.e.  600 gallons per hour) for 30 straight hours giving us a total of 18,000 gallons with no visible impact to the soil. So it looks like we should be good to deposit 5,000 gallons per day (when the system is running) without any problems.

So, we’re looking at installing a French drain leading from our basement down toward the lake but not actually exiting into the lake. This would eliminate the need for a DEC permit. The main question is whether the ground will absorb that much water.

It appears that it will from our flow test, but that is the discussion with our contractor tomorrow.


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DEC Permitting

NYSDEC LogoOur geothermal project is inching along. We’ve progressed to the point of having our permit submitted to DEC This consisted of completing:

  • State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit Application Form D
  • Short Environmental Assessment Form Part 1
  • Providing project plan and site plan

Once I figured out what I needed to fill out the forms only took a couple of hours. But the research into it took a couple of days.

The net result is that we have an application in and eventually it will go out for public comment. Assuming no one objects we should have a permit in the not too distant future.

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Geothermal Startup

TC-familyWe’ve contracted with GeoTherm International LLC to build our system. Right now we’re in the permitting process.

Our goal is to build an open loop system, using our existing well which delivers >10 gpm (gallons per minute) of water and then take the outflow into the lake.

I’ve spoken with a couple of DEC folks and they’re not quite sure what sort of permits or engineering we need. It seems like the key issue will be controlling the outflow temperature so that it does not disrupt the lake ecosystem. I’m not sure how we do that other than flow it through the ground before it enters the lake so that it is equivalent to rain/melt runoff.

Other than “temperature pollution”, it doesn’t appear that our system would have any negative consequences to the environment and would have the positive of reducing our carbon footprint.

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Phase II – HVAC

Now that we have the upstairs built out, we’re on to the next portion of the build-out: HVAC. We’re hoping to build a ground source heat pump (widely called a geothermal system) as part of our personal low-carbon approach.

open-loop-heat-pumpsSince we’re on a lake and a pretty robust aquifer, we’re hoping to leverage that with an open-loop system.  We’re exploring using our existing well for the source water and then sending the water on into the lake.

Of course we’ll need permitting, etc. to ensure that we’re working appropriately, but a couple of engineers we’ve consulted have suggested that this is probably the most economical approach.

With the water providing a constant-temperature heat source, we’ll install a heat pump tohow_a_heat_pump_works provide both heating and cooling. Heat pumps can be very energy efficient, but those that use air as their primary source lose efficiency in extremely cold weather. This problem is solved by using the water as the heat source. (see more details here)

While the system will cost more up front, our preliminary estimate is that we will hit the break-even point in 8-10 years. After that, we’re ahead of the game. And offsetting the high up front cost is a 30% tax credit for systems installed prior to 12/31/2016.

We have a couple of hurdles to overcome in the process including flow-testing our current well and getting the permitting lined up for the open-loop approach. But we’ve got it kicked off and hope to have it completed later this fall.

Check back for an update next month.

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Phase 1 Complete

Woohoo! We now have the upstairs build-out complete. We still need to decorate the space, but it is completed and functional (and already in use).

Next up is HVAC. Hopefully we are going to be able to go geothermal. We have a potential issue with the quality of water out of our well, but we’re hoping to have that all resolved and move forward with that.

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Our Lady of Guadalupe

We went to La Crosse, WI last weekend for a family wedding and, while there, visited a relatively new (c.a. 2004) shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Very pretty and moving facility. Below are a couple of images I created using the new Microsoft Photosynth app.

The first is of the initial walk into the grounds (just past the visitor center) to a stunning votive candle chapel:

Votive Candle Chapel-MOTHER OF GOOD COUNSEL by khavalier on Photosynth

Stained-glass windows depict various apparitions and titles of Our Lady.  The candle rack inside the chapel measures 14 feet high and 12 feet wide and contains 576 candles that pilgrims can request to be lit for periods of weeks, months or years. The interior of the chapel is porcelain tile manufactured in Italy. Stained glass windows are from Winona, Minnesota. The exterior of the chapel is comprised of a blend of both field and cut limestone. The spire is copper and was custom designed for this chapel.

The second is a 360 view of a statue within the Shrine to the Unborn. A statue depicts Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Unborn, cradling three babies in her arms.

Mother of the Unborn by khavalier on Photosynth

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What a difference a week makes

We’re making good progress on the buildout. All the walls, paint and electrical is done. Carpets arrive tomorrow and the tile and bathroom fixtures go in over the next couple of days. We’re hoping to have everything done within the next two weeks.

Meeting this week with the geothermal guy as that is the next project.

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The Buildout Begins

We’ve kicked off Phase I of our cottage buildout plan. It is a multi-year plan to turn our little cottage into our retirement cottage.

This phase is intended to give us more guest space by adding two bedrooms and a bath in what was the attic behind the loft. We’ve reconfigured the loft a bit, took out one window and added two more, and I think this will be a cozy area for guests.

This will also allow us to re-purpose our current guest bedroom into a study (and overflow bedroom).

Here are some pictures of the project a couple of weeks in:

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Hey Hey from Stockholm

It is often called the Venice of the North. Stockholm is a vibrant northern European city built on a series of islands that extend into the Baltic Sea.

Nordiska Museet

Nordiska Museet

We’ve had a great 3 days here, hiking all over the city, exploring its culture and history and sampling the local food: reindeer, pickled herring, fish stew, to name a few.

The Swedes are a proud people. Proud of their long-running monarchy, their culture and hosting the annual Nobel Prize ceremony and dinner. They are also friendly and approachable, at least for us tourists.

One thing we notice though is that they must have a different technique/custom for avoiding each other as they walk along in a crowd. We’ve all noticed that we’ve had to step aside more here than usual.

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