Playing in the dirt

The task at hand this past week was to prepare for the first layer of sand in back-filling the foundation. After the water lines connecting from the mechanical room to the garage/workshop were insulated I called the excavator to arrange for the first layer of sand to be put in. On Thursday, a wet misty day he showed up with big shovel and dump truck. Delivered 8 truck loads of sand, and then placed about 6 of those into the respective foundations, to bring the base up to the top of the footing. I had drilled 3 – 4 inch holes in the house foundation, and one in the garage for the earth tubes which will temperature condition air entering the living space. There will be a total of over 400 ft of thin wall sewer pipe buried in the sand to cool outside air in summer, and warm it in the winter as it enters the living space.

Perry placing sand in the house foundation

Perry placing sand in the house foundation

Placing sand and leveling

Placing sand and leveling

Sand all in the foundation

Sand all in the foundation

The cement finisher was supposed to come on Thursday afternoon to level and compact the sand, but there was apparently a missed signal, and he didn’t show up on Friday morning so I hustled off to Craigs place and we finished the final bits on the mini-crane, and I loaded up and brought it to the site. This device is to be used to pour cement into the cores of the cement blocks, and to move heavy stuff into places like the foundation wall. Anyway, on Saturday morning Perry showed up to move his big shovel back to its usual location, and when I told him I was planning to rent a compactor offered to loan me his. So I headed to his place a little later and picked it up bringing it home in my trailer. It weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 lbs. So dragged it over close to the mini-crane and hooked up the chain for the cement hopper to the lift handles on the compactor, and with the electric winch on my crane, lifted it and swung it over the wall, to set it down gently on the inside.

On Sunday I shoveled and leveled the sand in the house foundation and did 2 complete circuits of compacting it before calling it a day. This morning, Labour Day, Michael Montgomery, the son of my neighbor Richard across the street, who is in construction trades came over and gave me a hand. He is very experienced at compacting and so we leveled the sand in the garage foundation and moved the compactor over there. Then wetted down the sand to improve compaction, and did it over 4 times. Then moved the machine back to the house foundation, wetted that sand, and did the final two times over. The water supply from the well petered out just as we got enough into the sand for the house to do the job. Now waiting to see how quickly the level recovers. May be a problem with heavy water use in construction.

Final compacted sand layer in Garage

Final compacted sand layer in Garage

Minicrane in another setting for moving compactor back to house after completing work in Garage.

Minicrane in another setting for moving compactor back to house after completing work in Garage.

Final compacted sand layer in House

Final compacted sand layer in House


We then set about installing the earth tubes which will bring fresh air into the house and the garage/workshop. We finished the job after supper on Labour Day.

Partially completed earth tubes in the house from the west end.

Partially completed earth tubes in the house from the west end.

Partially completed earth tubes in the house from the east.

Partially completed earth tubes in the house from the east.

The finished earth tubes with the risers to the utility room of the house.

The finished earth tubes with the risers to the utility room of the house.

Mike Montgomery with the final earth tubes in the Garage/Workshop foundation.

Mike Montgomery with the final earth tubes in the Garage/Workshop foundation.

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3 Responses to “Playing in the dirt”

  1. Warren Niemeyer Says:

    Ted, I’m still watching. You are going to have to pick up the pace because winter is coming. When do you plan to be in your house? Like your 3D pic’s showing the sun and shade. Keep up the good work

    Warren

  2. Glenn Says:

    Where did you get the idea for the earthtubes at, looking for some good stats on them, but what I’m finding is ambiguous at best. I like the idea of passive heating and cooling so very interested in this.

    Everything looks great so far, can’t wait for you to get started on the rest.

    • tedspassivesolarhouse Says:

      Glenn,
      I have seen a number of references on discussion groups and there are some books on using the geothermal source for passive warming and cooling. The detailed approach which I have emulated is found at: http://www.thenaturalhome.com/earthtube.htm This fellow has a tendency to rant at other approaches which he feels are inferior, but does have a lot of useful information on the website. It is likely since I live in a relatively humid summer climate, that the earthtubes will not be the source of entry air in summer, because of condensation issues in the tubes.

      My house is designed with a solar chimney, for passive drive for ventilation in summer with air being drawn through open windows. The 3D model of the house does not yet incorporate that structural feature, but it is a 5’x4′ chimney-like structure that penetrates the roof just to the north of the center line of the roof. The south side of the chimney. above the roof has an openable awning/hopper window. The sun entering the window heats the column of air generating a vigorous convection current that will draw cool air through the open windows, and venting the hot air out through the chimney. It also acts like a skylight reflecting sunlight into the northern side of the great room through the chimney shaft.

      Yes waiting eagerly for the snow to go and frost out of the ground.

      Ted

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