chip sanft

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since Jun 27, 2010
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18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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Recent posts by chip sanft

Thanks for the replies. Mike, I'm hoping that the warm and dry air will help resolve another issue, or rather keep it resolved. There was a musty smell in the house when we moved in, which I mostly resolved by thoroughly cleaning out the trash from the crawlspace (which seemed to never have been done), putting down a vapor barrier, and adding a dehumidifier (w/ pump, so it runs pretty much 24/7). That works well most of the year.

In the winter, though, the dehumidifier doesn't work -- not well when it's cool down there, and not at all when it gets cold. I've read that current best practice in controlling an environment is to seal it and condition it and I'm hoping that sending warm, dry air into the crawlspace will keep the pipes from freezing and also help maintain a low humidity atmosphere. As for pipe wrap: It does seem to work. I don't remember what the R-value is of the foam wrap I bought was. But I gave a leftover section to my friend, whose pipes, also in a crawlspace, had frozen (luckily they noticed and he got in there with a hair dryer and unfroze them before any damage happened). According to what he has told me, that has been enough to prevent another occurrence. I'm just more paranoid. That paranoia has also put me off heat tape.

I though about adding an L just to meet the requirement, but that would add a lot of bulk to the installation. Admittedly it's just a crawlspace and no one goes down there except for me, generally. But I was hoping for a more elegant solution. I may well end up doing this.

As for asking the company: I bought this from a parts wholesaler who, unlike some such companies, is willing to sell to someone who's not a licensed contractor (namely me). But the manufacturer isn't a consumer manufacturer and doesn't give contact info. I asked the wholesaler about vertical installation and they didn't want to say "ignore that" for obvious reasons. The guy I talked to suggested the decreased efficiency that Mike mentioned. He also said repeatedly, though, that he didn't know. So I thought I'd ask for some other opinions / experiences.

I'm bouncing back and forth between just doing the vertical and seeing what happens -- the power draw is very small and goes to something surrounded by metal. It doesn't seem like a likely fire hazard -- and putting in an elbow. If I do an elbow I may use wingnuts to make it removable when not in use.

If anyone else has thoughts, experiences, or suggestions, please do add.
6 years ago

Erwin Decoene wrote:
As a scientist you try to find answers to one or more questions. When confronted with complex issues, the scientific method only makes small progress and that slowly. Usually a scientist tries to break up what he/she is interested in in smaller questions that are easier to observe/manipulate/quantify/model/....
Complex issues such as the soil building process, the interaction between biological and non biological, soil remediation, ecological questions, .... are difficult to approach scientificly.

6 years ago
So... our crawlspace is unheated and our pipes are down there. I've been using a small fan to blow air from the upstairs through a disused duct into the crawlspace to prevent me having to worry about freezing. (The pipes are all wrapped but still.)

I finally went to the HVAC parts place and bought a duct fan the size of the old duct so that I can blow air down without the little fan. Everything seems to be no bigger a hassle than usual except that the directions for the new duct fan say repeatedly it's only for horizontal installation and I want it to be vertical, straight through the vent.

Anybody know that this is okay, or that it won't be? I guess I'm mostly worried about somehow the motor catching fire or something, though I can't think how. Can someone dissuade or reassure me?
6 years ago
Dale’s Christmas sounds more interesting (= fun +) than those we have in my family!
6 years ago
Chris' post brings up a lot of things. For me, I often feel like I'm at a disadvantage in life, as I can usually see two sides to everything. (Just to be clear: Usually. Not always. Not for racism etc.) I often think that science-type posts have a point, and I've come to think that "purple" (in all its many shades) posts have a point, too. At the same time, neither is perfect, and each has limitations. Recognizing this has been important for me. I don't see it as an either/or question.

The point about spreading permaculture is an important one. But I think there's enough out there -- and enough in, say, permaculture publications -- that will put off those who are likely to be put off. But that doesn't mean that permaculture methods aren't useful to the broader world. We might want to present them as methods, rather than as part of a system.

Finally, I will note that this is an internet forum. A person -- no matter what that person posts -- is likely to see contradictory posts in response. Some people have different experiences, some people just like to contradict, some people know a lot, etc. etc. The reasons vary but the phenomenon is there. What makes Permies good is that the expression of these viewpoints should be nice. It's nice when people are nice.

r ranson wrote:I like the scientific method.  One takes a situation, observes, change one variable, observe... repeat.  
My experience is that scientific studies are often done in situations that are different than the one I live in.  To find out what works in my location, the best thing I can do is observe and interact.

I agree with this completely. The thing is, it's hard for me to change only one variable, unless controlling all the conditions in an indoor setting, where I can decide most of what will happen. Even then, though, there's variation.

When I look at a garden, for instance, I don't know how to change only one variable. Year to year, weather varies and rain quantity varies. Microbes are growing or dying or both, fungus growing and fading. Worms come and go. Seed varies. One year I do something and it's glorious; without knowingly changing anything, the next year is different. Even if I use seed I saved, some years the seed turns out better than others. That goes double if I buy seed. The variables seem innumerable. And that's staying on exactly the same piece of land, not trying to generalize across a larger area, with all the variation in soil and climate and microclimate that entails. (And it's setting aside the more purple aspects that I think I see: the quality of light shifting year to year, or the effect of the gardener's mood on the garden.)

This means that I don't think permaculture is testable the way that, say, a chemical reaction is. One can put chemicals A and B and C together and D will happen; on the other side of the world, if all works as it should, someone else can put chemicals A and B and C together and D will happen, too.

But permaculture is more complicated than that. I plant plant A and do B and add C and things slowly develop over time, unevenly even within the small space of my garden. Each year is different. And innumerable variables don't lend themselves to that testing.

So, like R Ranson, I observe and interact and go with what works for me, what makes sense to me, what seems to work in the conditions of my garden. I don't doubt that one can experimentally test aspects of permaculture. But the whole thing is, I think, too complicated for current methods to effectively measure.

This applies elsewhere, too. One textbook (literally) example is streptococcal bacteria, which a significant portion of the healthy human population can carry without any symptoms. But for others, sickness ensues. Things happen differently for different people and changing one variable is often harder than it might sound.
6 years ago

Thekla McDaniels wrote:
When I read the "and that's cool" part of the comment, it sounds more to me like "and I can accept that".

And the "some people just don't get it" does not sound as if the one who does not get it is lacking personally or intellectually, it just sounds like they don't agree, have a different point of view.

Exactly! I usually phrase this differently, focusing on myself and my own limitations, but I agree completely that this is about publicly expressing acceptance of other viewpoints. People have different perspectives and as much as one or the other may insist on being correct, people are going to continue to have different perspectives. "And I can accept that." :)

Mike Autumn wrote:I'm not on my main PC so I'm probably gonna forget some. I'm more of an agroforestry / gardening type guy so:

Masanobu Fukuoka and Akinori Kimura: Gave me the inspiration to follow my crazy dreams and to try unorthodox methods while always learning from nature. "The overstory" - Awesome website that has amazing articles with good sources, it focuses on the role of trees in agroforestry systems and has helped me with designing some of my first "inventions".

Sepp Holzer - I haven't been able to read up more on him but I really dig (pun unintended) his style of using terraces and aquaponics systems in a way that is tune with nature and that actually makes good money.

Charles Dowding on Youtube - Great simple info on no dig, no till gardening, composting, etc.

Geoff Lawton with his Greening the Desert series definitely made me believe in the power of using permaculture to transform the desert and I will soon try to do the same on a hostile plot of land.

Fouch o Matic on youtube, they really nail what its like going off the grid and give valuable info.

With you until the last one there... on the Fouches, check out:
6 years ago
One thing I've found that helps with stretching is resting the dough -- at least a couple hours, even overnight. Letting it sit in the fridge also lends the dough a nice flavor, I find. I notice this recipe calls for 00 flour, which the internet suggests might also help. Will be giving this a try, but first I have to find 00...
6 years ago
Fungus is a welcome addition to my compost piles and I wouldn’t want to discourage it.
6 years ago