Rufus Laggren

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since Feb 23, 2012
Chicago/San Francisco
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Recent posts by Rufus Laggren


> storm windows loose...

Even so, they help a lot. But if you want to tape around the storm window edge you can seal them pretty well. The downside is either getting the tape off in the spring, or, paradoxically, getting the tape to stay on through very cold weather. And, of course, not being able to open the storm windows should you want a few hours ventilation. Don't know what Ohio gets for winter.

If you have old wooden double hung windows and if you are moderately skilled with wood and paint you can improve their seal. It involves removing the sashes and installing either plastic or copper weather stripping along the edge - one type for the sides and different types for the top and bottom. However, it _much_ easier if you have the proper tools, either a small router or an old rabbet plane. If you use staples with the weather strip, it is more than just worth it to use either stainless steel or monel (if you can find them) staples. Then you put it back together and repaint where you messed up the old paint around the window. There are a lot of good tutorials on the net about rebuilding double hung windows.

Judging from my own experience, one window the first time will take you about 10-16 hours. It gets much faster after you burn through the usual screw-ups; figure two days,  provided  you have a good work table, and ways to hold the sash while you work on it. If you go to the trouble of removing the sashes, it's a good idea to reglaze and paint the outside, too.


17 hours ago

> errors...

"collapse" - for this usage, the usual word is "fail"

17 hours ago

Some of the websites you listed replied with exact reasons, such as they have a policy of responding only to contact from certain states or countries. Looking at the whole list, I would guess that they do not find your solicitation interesting for simple and practical reasons. This is the way of life and business - people have developed certain ways of conducting business (and life) and don't respond quickly or easily to different ideas from outsiders. 

It appears you have an idea (a product?) which you think might be worth something to others. Congratulations. You are now an entrepreneur! Unfortunately perhaps, promoting and selling something new does not always succeed easily. In fact, I would have to say that it _never_ succeeds easily. In the U.S. we have many stories of people who have succeeded at something only after trying many hundreds of times, looking for the right approach, the right product, the right idea. I think this is probably true everywhere.

You have contacted certain people, organizations, which seemed might be interested. I cannot suggest a better way - you are doing what must be done. Perhaps if you find people willing to discuss ideas with you, try to encourage conversations see what things you can learn. New approaches might occur to you from this talk, maybe new names, new applications. I have done what you're doing only very briefly and I found it quite difficult.  I believe that people can usually "succeed" provided they simply do _not_ stop pushing, trying. However, I also believe that the ideas and plans that do succeed very often do not look much like the originals - one needs to keep eyes open and change to discover what works. What you are doing here is known as "cold calling" - trying to sell or promote something by contacting people without ever having any prior connection with them at all. It's a truly difficult task but it can be learned. Once learned, the skill is valuable - more valuable for business than almost anything else one might learn.

I can only suggest you consider beginning your conversations by asking questions rather than just telling your story. Try to get to know the people while expressing your own plans. Networking. It helps, I think, to understand yourself and how your feelings and strengths might relate to your plans. For example, if you hate talking to people but you have good technical skills, you may need to find a partner with people skills. Or if you know, for example, logging very very well it will be easier for you to "connect" with other people who know logging because they will be able to tell that your are "for real". There is a very widely known book in this country titled "How to Win Friends and Influence People", written 70 years ago. It tells it like it is and gives many good ideas for how to promote and sell. I think you can find it easily and it might be helpful; it describes a way to approach people with the best chance of success and proper behavior.  The author, Dale Carnegie, was very successful.

The only other thing I can say is "market research". Learn what's out there and how you can fit in and enhance things.

Best luck,
1 day ago
I think what Travis meant about insulating the rim included _sealing_, making it airtight - not simply putting batt insulation against the rim. One way to do this is using hard foam of pretty much any thickness from the box store, cutting it to fit loosely in the joist space at the rim and then using canned spray foam to seal all four edges - at the floor, joists and the plate the joists are sitting on. The plate itself is often source of breezes because the stem wall isn't very flat and there are spaces under the plate. Thus, the plate also needs to be sealed to the stem wall, caulked, to stop cold air coming in. That is assuming you want a closed crawl, which is a good workable method.

But the rodent problem is a PROBLEM. Vermin destroy building structure and can make interiors very unpleasant. It's seriously important to get them out and keep them out and it's not a trivial task, especially in old buildings. _All_ holes larger than a pencil size need to be blocked and sealed to keep little mice out. Rodents inside the building need to be trapped; from what I've read and experienced, snap traps do the most efficient job. And a cat can be a big help if it's a good mouser. Unfortunately, that's not a given, but if you have any likely candidates, be sure not to feed them much and _for sure_ don't "open feed" them.

The plumbing piping _might_ depending, on your building details, be helped, once the vermin are gone  and the the crawl is sealed (again, check the local authorities regarding radon gas before sealing a space) by dropping the ceiling of the crawl and installing another layer of insulation under the existing joists; the pipes will be on the warm side of this layer of insulation. That is, once all else, including making sure existing insulation is _properly_ installed, is taken care of. If the crawl is sealed well,  the pipes may actually be safe as they are.

1 day ago
Travis hit it right on: The major failure point in DIY is taking on too much at once. Eg. the hot water tanks (ready made, sorta) do you better than home made tanks because you have so much else that it's important so that it's better to avoid sinking time into something when you can find adequate parts already made. My thoughts on your options really centered on the "too much to do" problem, not the ability to (eventually) implement something. Effective, functional hydronic systems come with HUGE mountains of nitty gritty stuff the must work _well_ if the whole thing is to have a chance to actually help others. That mountain of necessary, required detail is the problem, not the theory of the plan.

Other stuff:

Cement can be used to parge and seal, but not if the structure moves at all. Many materials bend under normal loads and that will put paid to cement parging if water tightness matters.

Sorry, I don't remember if your existing heater is oil fired or natural gas or LPG.  You can measure the BTU input to your existing boiler if it's gas fired and you have metered gas.  Shut off other loads and mark the meter, then fire the boiler and after, say, 2 , or maybe 5, minutes, mark the meter again and do the math. Look up the BTU value of a cubic foot of gas in your area (which most meters measure), then multiply by 60/(minutes measured).

Travis again hit right on saying that most retail heaters in the last 100 years are sized large for the needs of the building. If you seal and insulate the house effectively, you might hope to use less than 1/2 of the BTU your heater is rated at to maintain 65-70 F.  90% or more of the time. However, the benefits will not be quite as easy to realize as you could hope because the heater you have will still produce the extra heat and because your house needs less heat to maintain temperatures, the heater will tend to short cycle. It will quickly make things too hot, then shut off until they get cold again, then give a burst of (too much) heat...  Short cycling is good for neither the people nor the heater. Using the large heat output to warm a large mass, like several hundred gallons of water, is one way to ameliorate this type or problem. It does require sensors, controls and pumps. More complicated detail.

But reducing your heat load is definitely a good thing and gives you solid progress to work with.


Oh, and "washing dishes". Done that. Worked well for me, too. <g>
> 5 roosters...
Some strange disease gets the hens in the Philippines... <GG>

> methodically moving forward...
Yeah, that sounds right.

> guest house...
Good play, slide it in there sideways. Now I got hope for you, guy. <g>

> keep them poor as possible... same sort of dynamic in the Philippines...
The nail on the head. You see how it is, the committed ruthlessness. Don't lose sight or forget what you see. Stay aware, make friends. It's a Strange Land...

2 days ago

Is the BTU output of the BB realistic? What temperatures over time occur at your "boiler"?

How much of that heat will make it into your medium, water?

How much of the heat in your medium at the "boiler" will make it into your house? There is big loss through piping and insulating piping is a significant effort and cost.

Acquiring and then moving heat around with a medium is a very demanding proposition, me thinks, w/out even considering the challenges of a high heat short duration energy source. It's a LOT easier to generate the heat pretty much where it's needed, ie. in the house and capture and store it in the house itself, ie. stone or other mass inside _where_ it is needed. You wife may have set you an insurmountable (for DIY) engineering challenge.

Finding a fit between an _appropriate_ technology and a particular problem w/in your purview can turn out to be THE problem. <g>

Addressing the parameters of the house could be the good bet.  Maybe you're familiar with this stuff, but for the record: You have heard of the "stack affect"? A house wants to be like a chimney, moving air from the bottom up and OUT the top. It's very powerful and it sends lots of heat up to the stars carried by air flowing out if it can find any leaks up there.  Pretty much all building scientists look at sealing leaks at the top of the house as the hands down single most effective step toward lowering heating costs. Then seal leaks _leading_ to the top of the house.  You say we can't close off the stairs... Well, likely true, but what about leaks through electrical outlets into your wall cavities? Switches? How about those stairs to the attic, the door at the top? Then, what about (cold) air coming _in_ at the bottom... The outside doors... And now we get to the leaky windows. Tape all around the moving parts of the windows (they won't move again until spring). Caulk around the window moldings; caulk along the baseboards, top and bottom. Go into the basement (unheated, right?) and plug those holes in the ceiling where pipes and wires go up. Tape the basement door if there is one leading out that's not going to get used until next summer. If it's an old house and you leave a bathroom window cracked open, you'll still have plenty of ACH - AirChange per Hour. Then at night pull the shades or close the curtains to reduce radiating your interior heat outdoors. Blocking radiation out has a lot bigger impact than most people realize - sit in a chair beside a tight window the is unshaded, then shade it with curtains or even with just a paper pull-down shade. I think you will find the difference easily noticeable.

Solutions w/in our reach with immediate payback.

2 days ago
Microsoft Money was discontinued in 2008 (more or less..). At that time it was/is free if you can find a copy. It competed with Quicken.

MoneyDance isn't free, but last I looked (about 5-6 years ago) it's not crazy expensive and it is somewhat user friendly, unlike GnuCash. A the time it was actively maintained.

I use GnuCash, but it's really for accountants and those who can grok double entry bookkeeping - I'm neither, but I'm getting there. It has fairly good reporting options which allow me to list and display different types of transactions for special uses.

I have a good friend running a small plumbing biz who insists that Quickbooks, circa 1996 is the best out there. He may be right. It's a DOS program that hits all the basic stuff in a simple understandable way. The reports are somewhat limited, but everything you need to organize finance is there. You might find a copy on ebay and I'll ask him if he feels OK about sharing the install media (if he can find it - he's that kind of guy). Printing would be the big issue because by itself it won't recognize any printers around today. It has a generic Epsom mode that might work or the "box" you will run it inside on your operating system will need to feed it's print jobs to the main system for print out. IOW, although the data entry and screens, registers and reports should work no problem inside a DosBox, getting it to work fully including printing will take some fiddling. What he does in print to a file and then use another program to send that file to the printer when he needs hardcopy.

Old copies of Quicken and Quickbooks, say 3 to 10 years old can be found on ebay. They won't connect online with banks because Intuit arranged that online connectivity with banks expires three years after the software's release date. However, AFAIK, all versions _will_ import OFX files which, so far, all banks will provide as a download from "your" online banking site, the one you can reach with your browser. Thus you can load you monthly transactions into the software using OFX files and don't have to do that data entry (although there is often some "clean-up" involved, but I think that's true of any automated updates). The issue with ebay software is whether it will run w/out "activation" and whether, if it needs it, it can be activated/registered. I have had good luck with old copies of TurboTax but I haven't tried since about 2014 so don't know how that stands now.

2 days ago
The living room is over the crawl space you speak about?

> "floor insulated..."

What is the situation in the crawl under the rest of the house? Pipes OK?

As a first thought, fully - and sufficiently - insulating the floor of the living room would seem the most direct approach. If those pipes that froze could be on the warm side of any insulation, they wouldn't freeze so often. Normally it's more expensive to heat (ie insulate) a space unnecessarily; that's why crawl spaces are not insulated as a rule - we usually don't need, or at least want, to pay for heating an unused area.

You might also try sticking a thermometer into the ground at various places in the crawl and to various depths, up to a couple feet. Ground temperatures can be much higher than outdoor temperatures. That can give a little indication if the ground is contributing much to the coldness in the crawl. It may  not be, in which case you can look to sealing the air leaks from outside and maybe applying  foam to the inside of the walls in the crawl to help keep the outdoors outside. However, consult local real estate people or building inspectors about the possibility of radon gas in your area before sealing under-house spaces tightly. Depending on ground conditions in your area, come summer you may want to look at blocking moisture rising from the ground by placing polyethylene sheet over the ground and sealing it to the walls.

Or, you could ventilate the crawl fully, after moving the pipes to the warm side of the insulation. That might require some carpentry and plumbing but the ventilation would help reduce any possible moisture problems. If the insulation is some kind of bat, it needs to be mostly air tight to avoid "wind washing" which kills its insulative properties.

The usual problems in a crawl are moisture, vermin, insects and poison gas (radon). When designing solutions, take account of those common issues so you can avoid creating more.

2 days ago
Driving I90 north of Madison WI, I saw literally miles of those timber mats laid out under  new transmission lines (future lines - at the moment there were only towers in place). Didn't realize they were bolted together. And they were used crosswise, not lengthwise, to make a road about 12' or so wide. Also parking areas. Putting in power lines like that takes a LOT of work!

2 days ago