Monday, December 6, 2010

Realizing Winter

This fall has been an eye opener for us in the bioshelter.  We went to Fairbanks one weekend and that is the exact time the cistern chose to overflow.  No big deal really, but the water hose splashed the wiring to the solarium air circulator, so that quit. 

We were just back and heard a funny noise.  Curt got out of bed to investigate while I stayed in bed.  I heard water running all over the floor.  Curt had opened the HRV unit in the kitchen and those little invasive moths that didn't freeze until after the end of October had gotten in and filled up the filters and then the dead bodies filled and clogged the tubes of the de-humidifier.  Water on the floor.  We unplugged the HRV and went back to bed.

The next day as I cleaned dead moth bodies and re-set the fuse for the solarium air circulator fan, there wasn't much hot water, but I had just done a load of dirty laundry.  But that night, we cranked the shower on the hottest setting.  Nothing but luke warm water.

It started getting colder and colder in the house.  Hmmmmm.  Curt and I took the FanCoil apart to see if we had a broken belt or motor.  We poked around at the boiler, but saw nothing unusual.  (We keep the thermostat set at 60 degrees, so even if we don't start a fire, it won't get colder than that with our natural gas back-up boiler.  We thought that the house should be warm because we were burning wood.  It seemed like the only place we could be warm was next to the Finnish Stove. 

I called the repairman, explained the whole thing.  If it was an emergency, we would have to pay extra.  So I simply scheduled him to come out the next available time---which was Monday.  He told me to just turn off the boiler, we'd just be wasting gas if it wasn't heating the house.

Guess what happened on Monday?  It rained.  No one went anywhere and we had to get to the airport to fly to Texas the next day.  We decided it really didn't matter, the house wouldn't freeze while we were in Texas for Thanksgiving.  And we have an EXCELLENT neighbor who promised to come over every day while we were gone to light a fire. 

Well, that weekend it hovered about 60 degrees in the house----it was warm outside (right at 32 degrees).  When we got back from our trip, it was down to 52.  And outside it was + 10.   Our neighbor said that was the lowest it ever got in the house.  We had frozen pipes in North Pole a few times and that just wasn't fun.  Yeah for this house.

So, it's just a $20 piece in the boiler that needs to be fixed, but what we learned is that if there is no natural gas. . . .well, it might not get lower than 52 degrees in the house.   But right now in the root cellar it's 38 degrees and we are trying to keep that cold.  I guess the pipes wouldn't freeze no matter what.  But I don't know about living in a house at 38 degrees! 

So, all is back to normal.   It's about 45 in the solarium and it's 65 in the house.  The fish are swimming around again. They were very funny to watch when it was cold----it didn't get below freezing, but they would see a piece of food on the water and then in very very s l o w  motion, they would swim up and slowly open their mouths, but by that time the food would have floated past them and they missed it every time.  Poor fish. 

So we are talking about upgrading the old structure above the cistern outside.  It would be a much smaller building to heat if we ran out of natural gas!  I'm just glad we got a wool king sized NC Company blanket for our wedding.  It was the first time we REALLY enjoyed it in almost 30 years!