09 March 2010

Making Up Time

The geothermal drilling finally took place yesterday, and like the job that pushed ours back, it took longer than expected. They started around 10 am and estimated 3-4 hours to drill the three 275' deep holes, but they were still working on the last one when we left the house around 7 last night. They left all of their equipment overnight and cemented the tubes into the holes this morning.

The drilling was so dirty. Much of it was through rock, so the drill brought up tons of grey rock dust that blew everywhere. Then the hole closest to the house hit water (not a pipe, but some kind of natural source of water) and everything got soupy and disgusting. But while we were watching the drilling last night, we talked with the guy from the HVAC company who has been working with geothermal heat pumps for decades, and he couldn't stop talking about how much we're going to love it. He also told us that having a humidistat (humidity sensor) built into the thermostat will allow us to adjust the humidity, which will allow us to leave the temperature higher in the summer and still feel nice and cool.

Have I explained how the geothermal heat pump works? The three pipes are loops that will carry water down to the bottom of the holes, where the ground stays at about 55 degrees year-round. Down there, the water will heat up during the winter and cool down during the summer and then circulate back up to the heat pump to power the heating or cooling, as appropriate. (Beyond that, all I can say is that it works by magic.) It's also a two-stage unit, which means it can work at different levels depending on how much heating or cooling is needed. All in all, it's about twice as efficient as typical HVAC units, and since it's electric, our future solar panels will power it. Plus, we opted to add a mechanism that siphons off some of the heat that's being transferred back and forth along the loops and sends it to the water heater to save energy there, too.

Today the drywall work started. All of the ceilings and about half of the walls were up by the end of the day.

R says they'll finish putting it up tomorrow, then there's some kind of inspection on Thursday, and then they'll be taping the seams, texturing, and priming. I don't know whether they will work Saturday, but either way, I think we've made up some more time. Hopefully we'll only be a week behind schedule by Monday.

Have you seen that aqua colored drywall for wet areas? It's widely known that its surface is pretty much the same as regular drywall -- worthless when exposed to moisture. Since grout is porous (as is some natural stone tile), moisture is pretty much guaranteed to reach the surface behind tile in showers, etc. Hardi, the company that makes the cement board siding on our house, also makes a tile backer board, which I thought was the best option for tiled areas, but once again, R uses something better -- Georgia Pacific DensShield Tile Backer. It's a drywall-like product with a non-porous fiberglass surface that's easier to use and works better than the other options. That's it in the front bathroom, below.

We're doing things in a bit of an unusual order, so it will be a while before we get to tile, but the wood floor will be going in soon, followed by the cabinets, so the personality of the interior will start to come out soon.

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