Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Post move-in update

Well, we moved into the house two weeks ago.  We've been working on small projects since then like organizing the basement storage area, installing the pantry shelving units, landscaping, and various other tasks.

  We have noted that the Heat-Pump Water Heater we installed is definitely on the higher noise levels - there's a compressor that runs (in high-efficiency mode) for about an hour to bring the water back up to temperature.  The added benefits it provides by cooling and dehumidifying the mechanical and storage areas is huge.  On several days when the outside temps were in the high 80s, the temperature in the walk-out basement stayed at 70 degrees while the upstairs did manage to reach 74.  The geothermal system (ground-source heat pump) and heat-pump water heater are doing wonders at maintaining the humidity throughout the house - we're constantly sitting between 45 and 60% humidity levels. On days of high humidity and moderate temps we sometimes have to set the system to cool the house slightly to dehumidify it a bit.   We have not turned the GSHP on to heat or cool the house but about 10% of the days at most - usually that's to reduce the humidity a bit.  Yesterday and today when the inside temp was approaching 75 degrees with humidity in the 65% range we turned it to cool the house to 72 or 73 degrees which dropped the humidity to the acceptable range (sitting at about 55% at the moment).

We are running the ERV at medium speed for the moment and it seems to be doing the job (along with the HPWH and GSHP) of maintaining temperature, humidity, and indoor air quality.

I will confess the HPWH is a bit louder than we anticipated - it's in a room that is not sound-proofed in the basement and when it is running, you can hear it upstairs.  We plan on soundproofing that room in the near future which will also insulate it a bit.  Our HVAC contractor is contemplating stealing the cooling effect of the HPWH by adding a louver that we can open in the summer and close off in the winter when we don't need the additional cooling.

Other things that we've been up to include finishing (nearly so) the retaining wall and the associated grading behind it.  We then planted some 58 different perennials to provide continuous color to that area.  I also added a couple of legs of drainage to clear standing water in the "herb garden" at the center of the driveway as well as in the center of the front garden where it was pooling against the walk a bit.

Rain.  We had another 1/2" of rain last night and we've pretty much decided that we need gutter-guards.  The oak 'seed pods' and other debris that piles up in the gutters is pretty amazing. One thing we've found is that the downspouts clear themselves quite well of debris - this morning there were piles at the outlets of the 3 pipes comprised of leaves, oak seed pods and pine needles.  Unfortunately the rain chains aren't so good at clearing themselves of debris and on a couple of occasions the gutters have overflowed due to clogged outlets.  One point of note - the underground pipe installed by our grading contractor is the smooth-core variety, not the corrugated type you can by at Lowes or Home Depot.  It's rigid, has a corrugated outer shell but the inside of the pipe is very smooth.  It's a stronger version and doesn't catch all the dirt and other debris that otherwise clogs those corrugated wall pipes.  Very much worth the slight added costs.  One other point that our grading contractor made as to use the external connectors when joining two pieces of the pipe - they work much better than those interior connectors.

  On the subject of drainage - we have not finished the rainwater collection system but we have noted that it does a great job at collecting large amounts of pine pollen.  That stuff is pretty nasty when it sits and ferments in the barrels so we're going to do a bit more research on how best to eliminate that "feature."  Until then we've been draining off the tanks and cleaning them in prep for the "clean" rains that are soon to come.  I also purchased a transfer pump at Lowes that we're going to use to water all that landscaping that we just planted.  Plan is to connect the pump to garden hoses and feed it directly from the base of the two 275-gallon IBC tanks.

More pictures later but I wanted to provide a little update on our progress.

An for the person who asked - we used Sherwin-Williams Latex paint on the interior and elastomeric on the exterior.