The Battle of Helm’s Deep. What was it that King Theoden said, ” Where was Gondor when the Westfold fell? No Aragorn….We are alone.” To face Saruman’s army of ten thousand battle hardend Urukhai…..”Then I will die with them!” was Aragorn’s reply to the unsaid end that seemed inevitable.
Yet hope remains….while company is true.
For I was alone this weekend and there is indeed a mountain of work to be done. For Hobbits are known to love the brewing of fine ales, and the smoking of pipeweed. Of course those of you who are learned in the ways of Hobbits already know this for they also have a love for fine food and good tilled earth. I just want those of you who are not Hobbit fans to understand them a bit more because everything is relevant in a small way.
Alas my friends tis the beginning of the summer season and the Hobbits of the Shire seek wine, women, and song. Is it bad of me to say? I do remember those days of mine long, long ago and I will not soon forget the merry times we had.
Late night Friday night party at Jude’s friends house. It was a tough recovery Saturday for all the boys. (Boy, Jude was crabby Saturday afternoon. If you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen. Am I right or what?)
So. Welcome again Free Folk of Middle Earth. We’re getting closer…..and young Hobbits need cash to go and have a drink at the Green Dragon Inn. Or is it the Inn of the Prancing Pony? I think it’s the Inn at the Prancing Pony because these guys are really Men of Bree. They’re way too big to be Hobbits. Anyway Ethan, Jude and Terence are going to start working during the week at the Hobbit House so we can get this pour in by the end of July. Their help will be more than welcome. As when the Elves arrived to aid in the Battle of Helm’s Deep. Timing is everything.
A last alliance of Men and Elves fought for the freedom of Middle Earth. Lord of the Rings nerd in me coming out….sorry about that.
So what the heck does an old man like me do all by himself at a Hobbit house? Hmmm….Where should I begin?
Well it was a gorgeous day out and like I’ve said before there are a lot of little things that have to get done before we are ready to pour. I’ve also rushed over a couple of things that are interesting as well. ( At least to me, anyway.)
First things first. I had a couple of hi-hats to wire and install before I could continue with the bottom mat. What I forgot to show you is the grounding wire I installed in it. When you break the hi-hat down the grounding system is discarded. So in order to maintain the grounding system we installed a grounding wire to the underside of the hi-hat. It’s pretty simple. Just drill the proper size hole and use a nut to hold it in place. Check it out.
This just happens to be the first hi-hat I tried to fix. I really mangled that hole on the left. The guy at the electrical supply house gave me this special drill bit to make holes. I used that for the rest of the holes. It worked like a charm. I used snap in BX connectors to attach the poly coated Bx to the hi-hat.
Sometimes these little items wind up taking more time than you think. By the time you set up and get all the tools you need 45 minutes has gone by. So now all the hi-hats have been installed. I think we put in about 22 hi hats.
So in order to finish the bottom mat, the electrical has to be done, and one other item. The Chimney. Well it’s going to look like a chimney but it won’t act like one. Ah yes, the melding of the Hobbit and the Passive House. Hmmm. Now we will see how it’s done.
So the chimney thing was definitely a challenging detail and took me quite a bit of thought to figure out. ( And to be honest I haven’t figured everything out yet but I will, rest assured.) Hobbit houses have fireplaces and the accompanying chimney goes through the roof. It’s all about the mechanicals, I tell ya. We need a place for our plumbing vent stack and we also need a place for our HRV ( Heat Recovery Ventilator) exhaust. So my idea was to put these two items into a false chimney chase to keep the Hobbit house traditional look intact. I also decided to install two 2 inch conduit lines. One for a ductless mini-split heat pump and another for a solar panel if ever the need arises. (I have to investigate the mini- split a bit more. I might need to run a wire out there as well and possibly another conduit.)
So I figured out about where the chimney was going to be and laid out the couple of items I just spoke of. The HRV exhaust has a seven and a quarter inch outside diameter. So I asked my friendly neighborhood hi-rise plumbing contractor if he had any extra 8 inch sleeves. You have to use a Brooklyn accent here…”Jimmy don’t worry about it! I got 8 inch sleeves up the whazoo.” That’s a quote my friends. (Well he really didn’t say whazoo he used another noun.)
Just from a chimney point of view now everything has to be in increments of 8 or 4. (It doesn’t really have to be but it helps.) So when I laid out everything I came up with a chimney that’s going to be 32″ by 32″. (Brick with the mortar joint is 8 inches long.) It should work out. So I got my circle cutter out and cut in for a 4 inch plumbing vent and two 2 inch electrical conduits. I didn’t secure them for the pour but set them up so we could install the rebar around them properly. I used the old duct tape method: A couple of wraps and wa la: Nothings going nowhere. ( The pipes extend 6 inches below the plywood so we can connect it later on. Just so you know.) Check it out.
You can kind of see why we need to put this stuff in now before the rebar. Moving the rebar after the fact will be a pain in the neck. Like I said before I might add a few more things to go through the chimney just to play it safe. There is plenty of room and core drilling a hole later is not a good option. If I don’t use the 2 inch lines I’ll just fill them with insulation and cap them off. I’m pretty sure the ductless mini split heat pump needs a wire as well. I’ll probably run a 3 wire line right to the panel box from here. That will be a home run later on.
So what happened to our Hobbit fireplace. Hmmmm. I know, I know, all you Hobbits out there are going nuts right now. I mean how are we going to sing like the Dwarves did in the Hobbit? You know. “Far over the Misty Mountain Cold…..to dungeons deep and caverns old….” This is important.
Passive house people. It’s the wave of the future and very few people know of it my friends. Especially in the United States. A passive house is completely air sealed. Air cannot get in or get out. ( I know we’ve had this conversation before but we’ll just give a little refresher course.) Enter the HRV. The HRV brings a continuous flow of fresh air in through the bedrooms and living room and exhausts stale air from the kitchen and the two bathrooms. The HRV has a high efficiency heat exchanger that, during the winter months, transfers the heat of the outgoing air to the coolness of the incoming air. This enables the house to stay at a constant temperature without having to use much in the way of energy to actually heat the house.
What does this have to do with a chimney Jim?
Well a chimney is probably the worst offender as far as passive house or any house for that matter goes. It is directly connected to the outside and is extremely hard to air seal if that is even possible. And when you light a fire in a chimney almost all of the energy(heat) goes right out of the house. Very inefficient. It also depressurizes the house which is a big no-no with passive houses. From what I’ve read, the people who have tried this have had lots of problems and the Passive House Institute does not approve of it.
So what I’m going to do is build a fireplace without a stack. It will have the electric log thing going on and I’m hoping that will cover me as far as the Hobbits are concerned. From what I’ve seen the electric ones look pretty realistic. We shall see. (I think if I do a good job on the fireplace itself that will go a long way.)
Back to the bottom mat. Just quick. Whenever you have a penetration that interrupts the bottom or top mat you have to put in additional steel. The skylights interupt the bottom mat so we put in #6 add bars. Two at each face and they have to be at least 30 inches passed the corner of the skylight. What this does is help the loads of the house transfer around that opening. Check it out.
So for the rest of the day I just wanted to get the first way bottoms down and the add bars. This old man was dog tired by the end of the day . Bottom mat nearly done.
Just a little off topic here but relevant nonetheless. We had this wicker furniture on our front porch at home. I mean it lasted like 16 years. Well it kind of lasted 14 but I was too cheap to go into my pocket at the time. So last fall we had to get rid of it because you couldn’t sit in it without landing on the floor. Anyway the editor goes on a bit of a furniture spree. I come home one evening and we have all new wicker furniture. The stuff looks great. I think she got it at Pier 1 Imports. So we’re looking at it and she says. “I saw another chair that I thought would look good.” So I says: “Okay that’s fine.” I come home a few days later and look what she got.
Guess who’s not decorating the Hobbit House?
I mean, really? She’s probably gonna want to move to Colorado next if you catch my drift.
A question for Sally H.: Hummingbirds…where do they migrate to. I say South America, my wife says the Caribbean. Terence thinks they hibernate. A little help here with a family argument if you will.
Looking forward to next weekend. The Battle of Helm’s Deep begins….and those Elves better show up or I’m gonna be po’ed!
Have a great week!