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Common Household Remedies Request

UPDATE Sorry for any brief randomness. More server tuning.

UPDATE Now you can admire my new foam; I went in and fixed the permissions.

Actually, I would like you to admire my new foam. That is, I would have, if the process of rescuing the many images that were almost lost during the server repair had not somehow interfered with the permissions on my files directory so I can't upload the image. Snarl.

And now I have to leave or I will miss the once-an-hour bus.

Suffice to say that last night after midnight it was 70° insider (15° outside), the boiler was off, and the radiators were barely warm. It used to be that when I opened the basement door, I would be greeted by a big draft, blowing cobwebs, etc. Now, no draft, ZOMG!!!!!!!!

So, good for me, good for everybody who lives here, good for the planet, and I'm doing my bit to leave that disgusting substance, petroleum, under the earth where it belongs.

NOTE I am assured that the foam is "earth friendly"....

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nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

I have been wanting to install foam insulation here forever. That stuff is just wonderful.

Submitted by lambert on

That's why there are trustworthy contractors. This seems to be the stuff, "closed cell":

Closed cell spray foam is a great product and is used primarily to air seal and insulate basement and crawlspace walls. Spray foam both insulates and air seals and is a great moisture barrier, too. Many of our Maine homes are built on fieldstone or granite foundations that, by virtue of their construction, are leaky. Spray foam can fill in these cracks, stop water infiltration, and provide a high R-value making your basement warm and dry and saving you money.

I was dumb in the sense that I didn't get the exact composition; I went with "earth friendly" which I wouldn't have done with Home Depot but did, with someone I know. There are soy-based closed cell spray foams.

Submitted by lambert on

... a subsidiary benefit of covering the horrible soil in the back crawlspace with plastic and then sealing the walls is that critters will be far less likely to get in! And they certainly won't get up from under.

And in an added bonus, the hellmouth in the crawlspace was not a woodchuck's home, which was my ("worst case") scenario.

The house, like a lot of houses on my street, is on a river bluff. And to level out the earth before adding on the back portion of the house, under which is the horrible crawlspace, the builders of that time first dumped a load of rock, and then covered it with soil.

Then, over time, the soil dried out and became very fine, and at some point just drained between the boulders. That was the source of the hellmouth -- which did not open out into some underground cavern! So they got some backs of gravel, filled it in, and that was that.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

One less thing, right?

Critters are great, outside, but once they get in they can be really irritating. This year the unusually early cold has driven in roaches! I don't think I have ever seen them in these kinds of numbers in the house before. If we only had some foam......

Splashoil's picture
Submitted by Splashoil on

Be sure to verify adequate combustion air for the boiler! An air starved boiler can poison you. Add a heavy snow to what you have already sealed and your fire could be affected. Third post attempt from Mexico.

Submitted by lambert on

It isn't sealed tight tight tight, I don't think, like hermetically. Is there a metric for this?

Splashoil's picture
Submitted by Splashoil on

There are formulas based on the btu output/input of the burner/boiler. I would search "boiler basement combustion air requirements" or something similar. The mind easing solution would be an air duct from the outside with a diffuser on the end inside and a shroud and varmint/ bird screen on the intake located well above the highest possible snow drift and leaf accumulation. Lack of air or reduced air changes the fire and can produce much more harmful gases in a confined space rather than out the exhaust stack.

Submitted by lambert on

... but how am I not just introducing a new draft? Why not just open a window?

Jay's picture
Submitted by Jay on

When we got our new boiler, they put a fan-in-a-can in place of one of the window panes. It operates when the boiler turns on.

Submitted by lambert on

And it's an electric generated add on, so for sure it would work, even with my ancient boiler.

Splashoil's picture
Submitted by Splashoil on

The trend today is directly vented gas and oil burning appliances sealed from the room where installed. There are automatic fans and dampers but of course they would be useless during a power outage. Diffusers grills and ducts can somewhat reduce drafts where they are not wanted. Your burner man can probably set you up or steer you in the right direction.

Submitted by lambert on

... the boiler won't run either. So that's not a problem!

I think the fan in a can idea is brilliant. And it's controllable, unlike opening a window.

twonine's picture
Submitted by twonine on

NFPA 31, Standard for Installation of Oil-Burning Equipment.
From the 2011 Version (just adopted by Maine State Fire Marshall's Office):
"5.3.2 If the unconfined space is within a building having insufficient air because of tight construction, the air for combustion and ventilation shall be obtained from outdoors or from spaces freely communicating with the outdoors. Under these conditions a permanent opening or openings having a total free area of not less than 1 in^2 per 5000 Btu/hr (28 in^2 per gal/hr) of total input rating of all appliances shall be provided."

For a 100,000 Btu/hr boiler that would be about a 6" diameter duct though the wall attached to an outdoor intake hood with at least a 40 square inch screen (assuming about 50% open area). With a motorized damper interlocked with the boiler, the new leak would only operate when the boiler needs the air. As already mentioned, the air intake should be up out of the snow.

A carbon monoxide alarm would be a good thing.

PHP likely used foam with very low global warming potential.

Splashoil's picture
Submitted by Splashoil on

Amen to the CO monitor/alarm! They are required in Washington State and for good reason. Any location with natural draft appliances should have one. I have had two close shaves that could have fatal if the CO did not sound the alarm.

Submitted by lambert on

I would love to hear about the protests....

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Sorry for the multiple attempts; I am still stabilizing the server after the restore, and it had started going out of whack in September or so (bot-like sysadmins going by the book....)

Splashoil's picture
Submitted by Splashoil on

I can only report what I saw since I rarely look at the local media. November 20 is the holiday celebrating the Revolution here and usually a huge event with parades speeches and many inland vacationers. This one saw the cancellation of the children's parade to pre-empt a planned protest over the 43 students (and many others) who have vanished. There was a protest that evening with 43 candles and many speeches excoriating the President and the government. But ahead of the protest I saw several truck loads of un identified plain clothes men arriving and spreading out around town. This presence made the atmosphere very quiet and was unusual. In contrast, there were very few uniformed police on the streets.
The cancellation of the parade was blamed on the teachers. Aren't they always at fault?
I have been waiting to hear from NC commenter "from Mexico." For those who want more information Wikipedia has a good background summary with links from many sources.
One theme I noticed was calling out the teachers for resisting "education reform" and "testing of results." That sounds familiar.

Submitted by lambert on

There is a stone foundation made of boulders and rocks and then a footing of brick on top of that.