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MRS. SHAYNE’S ADVENTURES IN GEOTHERMAL, PART 2

DEAR KAY,
I CAN’T REALLY EXPRESS TO YOU HOW LOUD THINGS ARE AT MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW. YESTERDAY MORNING THIS THING SHOWED UP IN MY YARD:

AND IT HAS BEEN DRILLING 300′ HOLES IN THE GROUND FOR EIGHT HOURS YESTERDAY AND PROBABLY ANOTHER FOUR HOURS TODAY. THEY JUST STARTED HOLE NUMBER FOUR, OF FIVE.

THIS IS ABOUT TEN FEET OUTSIDE MY OFFICE WINDOW. IT’S LIKE A QUARRY. OR THE WORLD’S HUGEST ROOT CANAL. I FEEL LIKE MY HOUSE IS UNDERGOING DENTAL WORK.
Meanwhile, Upstairs
If you have any curiosity about exactly how crappy your house is, call your electric company for one of those energy evaluations. A guy came out, took dozens of photos of all my egregious gaps, cracks, bad insulation, and open chimney flues. Can I help it that we have single-pane windows? Just so critical and naggy, crikey.
Actually, the guy could not have been any kinder. He’s a songwriter (of course; this is Nashville) and writes poetry, dances. I felt terrible that my house was so subpar. But I was glad that it gave him a lot of material to work with.
The most humiliating part was the silent way my inspector took in the vista of my attic ducts. He was struck dumb. “Aluminum foil,” he finally said, pointing to one area that looked like a Halloween spaceman costume. “That’s actual aluminum foil. And this,” he said, lifting the edge of another piece, “this is wool. Like from a sheep.”
ducts.jpg
I’m not making this up. We knitters joke about insulating our house with yarn? MY HOUSE IS INSULATED WITH YARN.
He also pointed out that savvy HVACers scorn square ducts as deeply inefficient, that air likes a tube, that my ducts are so leaky and ill covered that it’s a miracle we get our house above freezing, ever. I don’t even know how we get through a damn day around this place.
Anyway. In for a nickel, in for a dime. I figured if we were going geothermal, it didn’t make sense to send all that earthly air through bad ducts. The cost of patching up the leaky seams and adding more insulation wasn’t exactly cheap, so guess what I’m getting for Christmas: new ducts.
Yesterday, the duct specialists came in and just beat the hell out of my ducts:
ducts-2.jpg
Which was great. I think the catharsis aspect of this project may be what is most satisfying. Just blow it up, everything. Drill down to magma; take the roof off. I don’t care. Let’s DO THIS THING.
Today’s Conclusion
Day One went really well, in a man-there’s-a-lot-of-stuff-going-on way. Not to jinx anything, but there was not a single 50-foot fireball from the drilling rig. We didn’t “hit gas,” as I feared. We didn’t hit anything except limestone. I’m going to miss that Ingersoll Rand T4W when it finishes Hole Number Five. A rig like that costs at least $170K used. Yes, I looked into buying one.
What are these holes for, anyway? They’re going to run pipes down into the holes, connect them into a closed loop filled with lemonade or Diet Slice or Oil of Olay, bury it all, then tie all that into a new heat pump. I can’t really get into the details too much today, except to say that this is the part of the story where you say, “Got to make a mess to clean up a mess.”
Love,
Ann
PS My geothermal blanket project continues. I love making this blanket. It’s just a stashbuster, no pattern, just mitered squares and garter stitch squares. The stakes are so low that I can’t really go wrong. I’m not sure I’m going to love this blanket when it’s done, but I do love making it. You know?
geothermalblanket2.jpg

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44 Comments

44 Comments

  1. I think my favorite part is that you looke in to buying the rig…Beautiful blanket – I hope your house is warm soon!

  2. You are very brave to both drill into the ground and explore the attic! As an owner of a 100 year old house, I applaud your efforts to become more efficient! When we remodeled the first floor of our house, we discovered there was NO insulation in the house. So we blew insulation into the walls downstairs. Now of course, the first floor (where the thermostat is) warms up, and the radiators in the uninsulated bedrooms never kick in. Boo hoo!
    More blankets!!

  3. You don’t do things by halves do you LOL. It looks like a nightmare, but you will be so pleased when it is finished and your home is toasty warm and your bills are extra low. I’d love to be able to do this sort of work to our house. I want a wind turbine and photovoltaic, so when Armageddon comes along, we will survive and I will make my fortune as one of the only sewists and knitters in the land who still has power. Not going to happen though. It costs too much. Boooo!

  4. Hey — why is there no yarn in your attic? Love, love, love the blanket — I keep finding hitherto unacknowledged odd balls of worsted in no coherent color pattern. I think you’ve given me the solution. Bigger, please — it’s not strips, and the squares don’t line up, but everything is working. I’m wondering how this thing is assembled.

  5. Much. Sympathy.
    Also, how are the cats taking it? Just a heads-up: this is the kind of situation where cats get into places they can’t get out of; places you may not even know exist.
    Hang in there! Just imagine how lovely it will be to sit in warm air, knitting, this winter. And it will be quiet by then!! (Probably.)
    Again: much sympathy.

  6. We had an energy audit done a few years ago. One of the tests involved sealing our front door with plastic and running a blower to see where all the leaks were in the house (everywhere, apparently). One of our neighbors asked if we were fumigating for fleas…. Gah!

  7. I LOVE home construction projects!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish I could come over and watch and learn!
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the pics! Please post more!
    PS why not auction off the blanket when you are done?
    Lynne

  8. This is so interesting! Thank you for posting about your real experience with this stuff. I looked at the aluminum foil ducts and thought ‘rip it all out! make it snug and toasty!’ It appeals to the same side of me that enjoys cleaning closets :)
    Also, the blanket is gorgeous.

  9. Love the blanket. I always love projects where “you can’t go wrong.” So soothing! Have fun with your Major Project. It will be so worth it when complete.

  10. It’s so cool to see an actual project for this – bravo! And yes, there are places where the insulation is wool — actually quite logical.
    And if you hate the blanket, my household would love it – we already have a log cabin blanket in wool, so it wouldn’t be lonely or anything.

  11. We moved out of a 100+ year old house in NJ and into a new, geo-thermally heated house with a generator in NH a year ago. Trust me, it was a good choice! Our geothermal is tied into a well, but it works beautifully….. water comes up at 55 degrees and goes back down at 50 degrees in winter. In summer, with AC going, it comes up at 55 degrees and goes back at 60. We love it! Energy efficient and (with radiant floor heating) NO DRAFTS!!!!!!!
    I have to admit that I’m glad we started from scratch (and that we still lived in NJ while they were digging up NH.)

  12. Do workmen over there need regular cups of tea or is that just a Brit thing? I peaked at tea for twelve when the gas main was being replaced.
    Can you hear the drilling even when they’ve stopped?

  13. I was not picturing that big machine. I was picturing a much smaller machine. Like a Bobcat, or a Fry Daddy. Something cute.
    WOMAN WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
    Sure hope it turns out ok!
    xoxo Kay
    P.S. I am telling you, now would be a good time to watch the original movie The In-Laws. Really, the best heating duct scenes in cinema. You can hide stuff in there!

  14. Good God Almighty! Is that the Virgin Mary in your rafters? No wonder that blanket is so awesome. Don’t let it get out though or you’ll have more than huge machines tearing up your yard. La Dolce Vita comes to mind.

  15. Now I know where to find that skein of yarn I swear I had but can’t find. In the attic! Hopefully your house is warm and environmentally sound soon!

  16. PS. Forgot to mention how much I loved the documentary on pimento cheese. Couldn’t figure out though just where it is served in NYC. Never met anyone here in 50 years who’s even heard of it, much less put it on the menu. Luckily my mother-in-law makes it. Also, no one mentioned that a grilled pc sandwich is the way to go.

  17. Oh my god. I totally forgot what I was going to say about your post because of the comment about pimento cheese grilled sandwich… I will now obsess about that for weeks. I, too, am in NYC, where the pimento cheese is seldom found. I’ve been making do with regular grilled cheese, dipped in a mix of mayo and chili sauce.
    Um.
    Oh yeah – thanks for the awesome view of the process of geo-thermalizing. And I’m loving the blanket and applaud the use of straight garter and miters. I also feel like it’s becoming an amazing study in color. I’m log-cabinning right now, and it’s wonderful, in it’s way, but as you know, so… disheartening that the bits get bigger and bigger and slower and slower instead of speeding up at the end like miters. I think my next few blankets will be watercolor-on-graph-paper ideas of log cabins to move that along out of my system and then look for some mo’ betta miter mojo.

  18. i agree with Lynne: raffle off the blanket to help pay for this reno. id buy a few tickets at $5 or $10 each. we knitters got to help each other out. it’s not a bad thing to donate to the charity of a friend; sometimes id rather know exactly what my money is going towards.
    and, this is like watching Holmes on Homes, without being in Canada. go Shaynes!

  19. Look on the bright side, with all the noise, vibratin’ and general carrying on you won’t have to call out the critter control for some time ;-)

  20. that looks really expensive

  21. I believe they use leftover TAB from the ’70s. Gotta do something with it.

  22. Ann,
    There is a book you need to read, the Finches Fabulous Furnace by Roger Drury, they have a mini volcano in the basement.

  23. My husband and I are still repainting over all the holes made when we had insulation blown in last winter. It was a great idea though, because the “balanced bill pay” from the people who previously owned the place was astronomical! Now, even without BBP, we are paying a reasonable heating rate all year long.

  24. “[The inpector is] a songwriter (of course; this is Nashville) and writes poetry, dances. I felt terrible that my house was so subpar. But I was glad that it gave him a lot of material to work with.”
    I’m looking forward to his one-man performance piece, “The Saddest House I Ever Inspected.” I wonder what moves/lyrics he will use to illustrate the aluminum foil and wool? : )

  25. I just looked at the ducts in the third floor of our 100 plus yr old home. I found four playing cards, an old Twister mat, 3 Pabst Blue Ribbon cans (which are the kind that you had to use a can opener for) but no wool or tin foil. The blanket is beautiful and I agree with the raffle idea. I’d buy a ticket or two! Happy geothermic!!

  26. “Duct” the halls with boughs of holly — fa la la la la la la la la . . . .

  27. Boy, I don’t envy you all the noise and confusion, even if the end result is fantastic. Which I’m sure it will be. But your drill isn’t as loud as what we suffered through last week — we had a sewage backup into our basement, and once the insurance people cleaned out all the wet carpet and drywall, they set up multiple LOUD fans and dehumidifiers and heaven only knows what else — there were five machines within a 10-foot radius, all running at TOP VOLUME. For 72 hours. 72 HOURS. And now they have to come rebuild the walls they tore out.
    At least your work is voluntary! :)

  28. “This is wool…like from a sheep”
    PRICELESS!

  29. Do you get to re-coup anything in the recycling of the square ducts?

  30. How can your house be cold if insulated with wool??? The sheep stay warm!! I love the blanket.

  31. From now until the end of time, whenever you look at that blanket you will hear faint drilling noises in your mind and remember the joy that was the silence at the end of the project.

  32. Whoa! All the ductwork in my library was replaced this summer, and we closed the place to do it! I can’t imagine living with all that going on around you….

  33. I love the blanket. It’s a proper heirloom thing, not a work of art that you barely dare touch or use, but a real live ‘person’ of a blanket, and it needs a family, with kids…. who will grow up using it everyday, dressing the dog up in it, making a den out of it, cuddling under it when they’re too sick to go to school, taking it to the beach, squabbling whose bed it goes on in the winter (unless they already have geothermal heating of course)….it’ll get holey and mended, and stained and stretched and goodness knows what else, which will mean it has been truly and properly properly loved. Its a wonderful blanket x

  34. Hey, you didn’t show us the wool!
    I wanna see the wool-from-a-sheep insulation.
    That is too funny, as if it followed you there.

  35. All that drilling has caused you to yell. Oh dear. It’s to find a local Starbucks where you can yell above the noisy espresso maker. No? Knitting there might actually be quieter.

  36. I love everything about this post, including the sheep lined attic and the blanket. Which you will always love becasue it’ll link you forver to your geothermal dawn . Do you have a song, too? You need a song for this season too. I’d recommend something but living in Nashville your song resources run deep as a geothermal drills, anyway.

  37. Ann, I had that guy come to our house to inspect, as well. Very nice guy, even has he delivered the bad news. Do you mind if I post this to the neighborhood list serve? They’re probably all wondering what the hell is going on at your house. The way you tell the story is too funny!

  38. Perhaps some of your stash rolled away into the floor vents…I hope it wasn’t any good cashmere!
    And, I vote yes on the blanket. I like the varying miters & straight garter. Interesting texture and still mindless TV knitting.

  39. there was a family by the name of shayne that
    lived in that old house fell down a big hole
    met a rabbit by the name of alice never heard
    from again just keep walking you can hear him
    singing she knits during the full of the moon
    just keep on walking hopes she runs out of yarn

  40. This too shall come to pass. Seriously. I’m just sitting here contemplating November renovations and find myself thinking wow, that has to be chilly (though YMMV on the definition of chilly) and did they give you a special rate in case it isn’t done before Thanksgiving?

  41. I am wondering how the blanket is assembled too. If you don’t love it, you could raise money for a favourite charity and auction it off.

  42. Hi Ann,
    What an education I am getting about your new heating system. Thank you for reporting on it so well. Also love your blanket, I do a lot of mitered squares,my group and I sent 400 squares to Haiti, when they had their floods. what I like better on yours then mine is the way the decreases look. Would you share that with us. I would appreciate it. I checked out the book, and they really don’t look as good as the ones on your Blog today. AS always, thank you Ann,
    Rita

  43. My sympathy is with you in this Herculean endeavor. And thanks so much for the blanket details.

  44. I feel for you, honey. I’m in the throes of a major interior reno here. Four frightening bathrooms out, four non-thrilling but non-scary ones in. There is not a clean room in the house: they are either filled with stuff from other rooms or filled with building materiel or construction sites. I’m treating the place like a refugee camp — I huddle in my bedroom with the dog and hope the guys weren’t lying when they promised they’d be done by December 16.