Archive for August, 2011

Let the sheetrocking begin!

Well, at least for the 2nd floor ceiling.

Normally, you wouldn’t start the sheetrock till the walls are insulated. But in order to test how well (or poorly) we’ve sealed the house with a blower door test, we need to complete the air barrier, and that means the 2nd floor ceiling. This is the area where the air barrier transitions from the exterior of the house to the interior. It will be one of the trickiest areas to seal properly.

We installed gaskets around the top edges of the walls, but because we’re using strapping, it made it difficult to close all the gaps. So we’ve decided to use 2-part foam only around the edges where the ceiling meets the walls. This should ensure that we have all possible gaps sealed.

Lessons Learned

We used poly boxes at all exterior wall electrical box penetrations, but we totally forgot to do this at the 2nd floor ceiling. We’ll have to use a combination of tape and foam to seal light fixture electric boxes in the ceiling.

I think I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that a smarter way to air seal the top of the enclosure would have been to extend the exterior sheathing and air barrier over the ceiling joists. Then pile the roof insulation on top of the sheathing. This method has been used by Marc Rosenbaum, although the air barrier in this case was the roof.* This approach would necessitate raising the roof up a bit to ensure proper insulation levels at the eves. The extra expense of sheathing the top of the ceiling joists would have likely been offset by the extra labor and material costs spent sealing all the gaps with foam.


Net-zero home comparison study

We’re participating in a study initiated by a doctoral student at UMASS Lowell. I’m just finishing up the initial survey questions. He currently has 21 homes in the survey. We”ll be a bit late in the data comparison since we’re not planning to be finished and moved in till November, but It will be great to see over the coming year how we compare to other net zero houses in the extended New England area.

Porch finished, for now

Still have a bit of painting, but the framing, siding and trim are complete. Porch is now the storage area for the remaining siding.

Metal roof materials for the porch and roofets should arrive next week. Getting the remaining metal roofs finished is high priority because it’s holding up completing the siding work and, believe it or not, the leach field. We are using a scissor lift to install the siding and roofs and it’s too heavy to drive over the leach field, so we have to finish at least the south side before we can install the leach field.

In the mean time we paint siding, a lot. All weekend, every weekend. I’m also trying to find someone to install gutters, 6″ half rounds, aluminum in Tuxedo Gray, with 4″ downspouts. We’re also hoping to start the sheetrock on the second floor ceiling soon so we can do our first blower door test sometime in early September.

Porch updates

We’re making some progress with the porch. Warren’s completed the porch ceiling and most of the siding under the porch roof. The electrical outlet box and wood plate are in. He’s also trimmed out the roof and nailed up half the soffit boards.

We had some tall help visiting this weekend. Art din’t even need a ladder to paint the porch ceiling. We paid him with food, beer and a stay in the log cabin.

A bit more trim around the roof and ceiling, and a little more siding on the roof and we’re pretty close to finishing the porch for now. We’re ordering the metal roof for the porch and roofets this week. We will be adding temporary stairs and handrails as well. We’ve decided to wait and finish trimming out the rest of the porch deck later in the year. Then we’ll add a more permanent stairs and railing.

Two MEGAWATT hours

Early this morning we tripped the TWO MEGAWATT HOUR mark (say it in your best Count Dracula voice). It took 36 days to generate our first megawatt hour, but only 31 days for the second.

July updates

It’s hard to imagine that it’s already August!

We’ve been busy with porch framing, painting the siding, sealing the deck, insulating water pipes and framing the last interior wall for the ASHP.

We still have a long way to go with the siding, but we’re getting a jump on the second coat of stain on the weekends. The Cabot acrylic stain really goes on well and the color (Thicket) looks great.

Warren and crew have completed the porch framing and deck, and about about a third of the ceiling v-groove. We sealed the edges of the porch deck this weekend. Bernie thinks we built the porch just for her. (The sealer is really to protect the deck from her drool.)

We’ve finished insulating most of the plumbing pipes in the 2nd floor. There is one area where the pipes are too close together to use individual foam wraps, so we’re going to try spray foam.

And finally the last interior wall. The refrigerant copper tubing for the interior unit of the ASHP can’t be bent in a tight radius, so we built a double stud wall at the stair to allow the tubing to bend more graciously. There is only a gap of an inch between the two walls. The tubing goes diagonally down to the lower right corner then through the first landing and out the exterior wall. The condensate drain also goes through this double wall. It passes through the second landing into the pantry to drain in the washer / dryer drain.

August promises to be even busier.

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