The Chimney

1 10 2010

Whether to remove the chimney was a tough decision. Certainly the effort to do so was considerable, but what the resulting new chase would offer the project was important. We could gain a highway for properly venting the kitchen stoves and also supplying them with make-up air, which is necessary for gas stoves in a super-insulated house–where air quality needs to be carefully controlled. The chase would also provide a way to properly vent the existing plumbing. We decided to do it.

Remember in the old days of this blog, when Liane’s house had a chimney and a turbine?

The chimney had been used to exhaust the 6 pieces of combustion equipment in the basement, and the turbine vented the roof.

Through some pretty heroic and graceful efforts on the part of the Synergy crew, the chimney came down.

The roof area where the chimney had been was insulated with rigid foam, membraned, and re-shingled.

Remember the old hot water boiler, the forced hot air systems, and the DHW heaters?

Now the boiler is gone (with it's metal hopefully recycled) and the furnaces will be repurposed.

After the Phoenix arrived, the DHW tanks could go to their new home with the electrician as well. Now it's easier to walk around the basement without the overhead ductwork.

Here is the old chimney shaft--now turned into a new chase.

Looking up the shaft of the new chase.

Looking from the interior of an adjacent chase at the grille through which forced hot air used to come into Liane’s bedroom..

3rd floor access panel to new chase.

Looking down the new attic chase where the chimney had been.

Calvin reaching down into a new vent opening through the roof, located on the other side of the ridge so as not to interfere with the solar hot water panels which will be installed on the dormer roof.

Calvin installing the boot for the new vent through the super-insulated, "hot” roof.



1 10 2010

After much mulling over with our mechanical consultant, we decided it would be best to remove the forced hot air systems in Liane’s house, and go with an all hydronic system. The first thing the plumbers (FAI) needed to do was to remove the leaky oversized ducts, which also made it possible to walk around the basement without hitting one’s head. The sheetmetal was eventually picked up for recycling.  Below is the old 2nd floor return duct which had been located inside the 1st floor hallway at the back door.   No wonder the 2nd floor could never get proper air mixing and balancing.   The next thing was to decide what to do with 1 old hydronic boiler, 2 forced hot air furnaces that made a racket and blew dry hot air most unpleasantly–and 3 not-so-efficient domestic hot water heaters? Well, we gave them to the electrician (except for the ancient boiler). This way they could be repurposed for the electrician’s shop use, and Liane could go with a very efficient, quiet, hydronic, combined space heating and dhw system. The system we selected with the help of our mechanical consultant, was a Heat Transfer product called the Phoenix Evolution–a combined space heating, and domestic hot water–modulating, condensing unit. It is compact and very energy efficient, and can be easily integrated with solar hot water panels, which Liane would like to install in the next phase of this project, perhaps next year. There are some good tax credits for solar at this time.

Here is the Phoenix arriving.
Here it is out of it’s packaging–it’s pretty small, but pretty smart. One of those protruding boxes is a computer, and the other has rather elegant plumbing.

The Phoenix does weigh something though, and here it is being slid carefully through the basement bulkhead.

Rick, from Synergy was helping out with bringing the Phoenix to the basement, and he is at the base of the bulkhead steps in this image.

Once inside, it is positioned near a basement window through which it will vent and receive combustion air.

Now John and Bobby, the plumbers from FAI can start getting to work, to get all the domestic hot water switched over to the Phoenix.

Next, John from Boudreau Electric wires up what's necessary.

The supplier's representative and John look over the installation.

Resuming the Blog

1 10 2010

Okay, the time has finally come to resume this blog.  The end of the summer came and went, with vacation breaks for most of us working on this DER.  Our wonderful intern Natalia returned to her architectural studies, and we have been working mostly on the interior of Liane’s house this past month.  We are not promising regular blog entries (since we are not as young as Natalia) but we will keep you posted as we can.  Thanks so much Natalia, for all your documentation help this summer—we miss your energy, capacity, and enthusiasm. So, what’s been happening at Liane’s place? To pick up where we left off—the back entry stair and landing–here’s what it used to look like. It sucked up moisture and the landing area had begun to rot the sill of the house.
After much demo, debris removal, and digging out of rocks, this is the back entry area without the old, moisture absorbing, concrete stair. And here is the new wood stair, turned into a mini back porch–just about complete–with a nice shed roof to shed the rain.

Trim and Foundation

5 08 2010

It has been raining most of the afternoon today – so Liane’s house, especially the windows, are getting tested for leaks. I’m sure all will be well since our hose test showed just how serious the Serious windows are when it comes to moisture penetration. The house is wrapped in its insulating coat and the roof is all finished, flashing included. All that remains is the siding and systems.

The sand has been moved to the side so that work on the new stairs may begin.

The hole where the new foundation will be poured.

We have to go 4' down!

The trim around the roof is finished.

And flashing is in place to divert water.

A hole is cut in the wall of the 3rd floor apartment to allow access to a future HRV.

Rick works on the access hatch.

New Roof!

28 07 2010

The new roof is looking great!  It should have a chance to prove itself tomorrow since we are expecting rain.

Look at that gorgeous roof!

Close up of the tiles. Notice how light they are: this will help reflect heat rather than absorb it.

Notice all the layers of the roof! All that extra stuff required extended rafters to support the new roof.

Joist and rafter "tails" extend the roof and resolve the fattened geometries of roof and walls nicely. Note the ends of the old attic joists sticking out--more on them later...

We actually had issues with leaky windows. But the problem had not been with the windows at all. The issue was with the detailing at the roof, particularly under the dormer and at the front bay of the house. Rick figured out the problem and reflashed properly. Thank you Rick!

We once had some back stairs...

...but they have been demolished and will be replaced by a much nicer wooden staircase.

Finished Windows

28 07 2010

The Serious windows have all been installed, and now it’s time to finish them on the interior: no more visible ice & water shields or house frame!  All the windows are fitted with Pressure Capillary tubes which are used to make sure that pressure between the panes of the window is equalized (they were manufactured at a higher altitude than where they have been installed).  This makes sure that the glass remains flat and doesn’t bow out.  The balloon at the end of each capillary tube should remain slightly inflated (not droopy) if pressure is equalized.

Finished window with capillary tube and balloon.

Instructions for the capillary tube.

Triple-pane Serious windows.

All done!

Work has also continued on the roof:

The plywood is nearly covered in the ice & water shield.

Left side of the roof: already has trim applied to the edge.

Right side: still needs trim and a little smoothing.

Nearly Done

24 07 2010

The work has been moving at a brisk pace, even through the heat and rain.  Currently, the roof is almost finished, the windows installed and finished on the interior, the site is getting cleaned up a little bit and preparations are being made for siding to be installed.

Second floor's porch has a nearly finished ceiling.

The guys shingle the remainder of the roof. The other side is already done!

Left over foam: Synergy will reuse it at another site.