Ardilla Esch

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since Feb 05, 2010
Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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Recent posts by Ardilla Esch

In my experience lime plaster over earthenplaster works fine if there is good tooth to the earthen plaster (can't be crumbly or too smooth).

Mixing lime into earthen plaster is trickier. Too much lime makes the clay a less effective binder. I have found up to 10% lime (percentage of binder by volume) is generally o.k.

You could probably mix lime into the slip for light clay straw.  I have never done this.  I haven't had any issues with insects or other critters in the clay straw. You may be trying to solve a non-existent problem with this. Personally, I wouldn't do it, but It would probably work.

Type S lime is fine. For plaster I like to have it soaking for weeks before use, but that isn't necessary. Protect yourself when mixing lime.
3 days ago
I realize this is probably a little late to resolve your issue...

The driller was on the right track with the gravel pack but the material size was wrong.  The slot size of the well screen should be based on the sediment size the well is installed in.  Then the filter pack particle size is based on the screen size and aquifer sediment size.

You mentioned 10,000 slot screen.  I think you are talking about ten thousandths of an inch slot (0.010") which is about the smallest slot size used in wells.  So that was appropriate.  However, the filter pack size sounds like it was way too big.  The filter pack should be the smallest size that has about 95% or more retained by the screen.  So a 0.010" slot screen with very fine sand or silt aquifer would have a filter pack mesh size of 20/40 (see attached chart).  That should hold back the fine aquifer material and still let water through.  The well driller will still need to develop the well to clear out the fines and get the filter pack as clean as possible.

This is pretty basic well design.  Though some drillers only know 'the way they have always done it'.  I've run into drillers who place pea gravel as a filter pack no matter what the aquifer sediment size is.  Not only does that mean you may be pumping sand forever, it can create voids that can put assymetric force on the screen and collapse it.

For what it is worth, I am a geologist/hydrologist and routinely design wells.
3 months ago
5 feet of water column is not much to exchange heat with.  My guess is it would not be worth the equipment to plumb it etc.

My parents have a closed-loop geothermal system with three 200 foot wells.  It works well for the most part.  They had one cold winter where the glycol going through the system actually froze the groundwater adjacent to all three wells.

The heat capacity of a shallow well wouldn't get you that much heat. Especially if the well isn't pumped.  You get more heat if the water is pumped regularly
3 months ago
It could be done. I think you would want areas at different stages of completion so people could work all stages. Otherwise there is a significant amount of time between layers drying and oil applications curing.
4 months ago
12 inches is not a firm maximum wall thickness.  You can go thicker - particularly in drier climates.  A common rule of thumb is that the walls dry about one inch per week (6 weeks for a 12" wall).  However, I think our 12" walls dried in 3-4 weeks.  If you have decent drying conditions you could go thicker than 12" if you wanted.

Another thing is that you can change the mix to get more insulation value or more mass.  Typically, people make a lighter mix for the north walls and heavier for the sunny sides.  Also, the light clay straw walls perform better than the R-value would indicate due to the effect of the thermal mass in the walls.

I would recommend against layering the walls with dry straw in the middle.  First, it would be a pain to install with any consistency. Second you would be making planes of weakness parallel to the wall surface.  You could easily get sections that spall off.  One of the beauties of light clay straw is that the material makes cohesive, uniform density walls.  Layering the walls would disrupt the cohesiveness of the walls. You are better off making the walls thicker or using a lighter mix.
6 months ago
Maybe if you ran the leaves and vines through a serious chipper/shredder then dried it partially before bailing.  I don't think you could get uniform density bales without chopping it in some way.   it would be a great use if it worked.
7 months ago

Jarret Hynd wrote: I've never been able to get any to propagate from cuttings, though I'm trying direct seed this year and hoping for some decent results.

Both you and Thomas mentioned poor luck with cuttings.  This is weird.  I rooted a dozen softwood cuttings this summer and they took root faster than cottonwood with no failures.  I used a peat moss/vermiculite mix with a IBA hormone dip.

The problem I have with Goji's is leaf drop from powdery mildew.  I think my mistake was wetting the foliage the few times I watered them.
8 months ago
For removing harder mortar, I use a pneumatic chisel.  A toothed chisel works well for quick removing.  A flat or curved (rondel) chisel works good for cleaner appearance.
9 months ago
The saline water will harm plumbing, especially copper, brass or steel components. PVC or PEX would be best for corrosion, but you often have brass components with PEX.  Washing machines would probably be harmed as well.  I suspect the metal components in the washer would fail prematurely (solenoids, pumps components, etc.)  It would probably also harm the water heater which consists mostly of metal components.

Determining how corrosive the water will be is somewhat difficult. You need more information on the water chemistry (and temperature).  The commonly used calculations  for determining how corrosive your water will be are the Langelier Saturation Index and Ryznar Stability Index.  Both of these assume low chloride concentrations typically found in potable water systems.  There are probably calculations for brackish water, I just have never used them or looked for them.   
10 months ago
If you are doing a drive point well casing you should use a drive point screen.

This site has several different kinds:  Dean Bennet Supply 

If your bore hole is larger than the drive point (you aren't actually driving the screen into the sediment), it is a good idea to place clean silica sand around the screen and put a bentonite seal above the sand pack before back filling the hole.

Other screens you could use include slotted PVC and steel pipe screens,  Wire-wrapped screens (except drive point wire-wrapped) are more for larger wells and are quite expensive.  A good pipe supply company near you either has slotted screen or could get it for you.  You can slot pipe with a hack saw or chop saw.  This generally makes slots that are wide and allow sediment into the well.  And most people get tired of cutting slots and don't make enough.  If you were to slot your own pipe, wrap the outside of the pipe with a decent filter fabric.

I would strongly recommend against packing cloth around an open pipe as you suggested.
10 months ago