Preparing for Winter

As part of preparation for the Winter, I dug a pit next to the well casing, lining it with 4″ styrofoam to protect the pump from freezing. This seemed like a good idea, but later it turned out not.

Water pump freeze protection.

Water pump freeze protection.

Insulated cover on the water pump.

Insulated cover on the water pump.

With fine warm sunny weather, I set about preparing the foundations for the tarpaulins which will keep the water out of the sand bed and the half-filled blocks at the top of the basement wall. Facilitate this, I used a piece of 1 1/2 inch pipe as a lever and bent all the of the rebar stubs in the top of the wall, over so the points were directed downward and would not penetrate the tarps. Then to reduce the abrasion further and cover the sharp bits, I wrapped each of them with a couple layers of roofing felt e.g. tar paper. The picture below shows the result as the foundation was ready for tarp application. D-day was Thusday Nov 6, since the weather report said showers were likely that night.

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Foundation rebar bent down, with roofing felt sheath; erectile dysfunction and condoms 🙂

Thursday, Nov. 6 was button down day. Went at the big one first, a 60 x 40 ft tarp. Spread it out over the house foundation, and weighted down critical points with concrete blocks. Then set about shoveling dirt onto the overhanging margins. Once the edges were mostly secure set about putting more concrete blocks strategically located around on the sand surface to keep the tarp from lifting and flapping in the wind. Was all finished at about 4 PM, and then it was on to the garage foundation. This was a smaller tarp, only 50 x 30 ft, and about 12 ft was cut off one end. This one went down much more quickly. Also had to slit the easterly end to go around the virtual wall structures for the electric meter and breaker panels. Those were then sealed up using plastic Tuck Tape. Same routine with edges secured with dirt, followed by concrete blocks. Al was done about 7 pm and by that time it was quite dark. Actually the tape seals were done Friday morning, the rain didn’t come till almost noon.

Southwest corner of foundation, with tarp in place.

Southwest corner of foundation, with tarp in place.

Looking along the south side, with both tarps in place over the foundation.

Looking along the south side, with both tarps in place over the foundation.

I was a little disappointed when the Power Company guy didn’t show up on Friday, the 7th. Anyway, I had a busy weekend, went to Windsor on Sunday afternoon, to see son Rafael play with the Windsor Symphony, and then put him on plane afterward to Winnipeg, where he was to audition for the assistant principal cello position with the Winnepeg Symphony. I got the phone call Monday night, that he was successful, and will be moving his family to Winnepeg next summer to take up the position.
I also checked with the electrical contractor on Monday about when the service would be connected, and he rattled the cage. So was expecting them to appear the following Friday, which is the usual day they service Newbury. I was quite surprised then when the cherrypicker truck showed up on Wednesday morning.

The purveyor of power arrives.

The purveyor of power arrives.

Attaching the wires to the grid.

Attaching the wires to the grid.

The finished conduit and grid connection.

The finished conduit and grid connection.

Meter installed and power on!

Meter installed and power on!

So now I have the luxury of continuous electrical power to the trailer (as long as the grid is working). And will be doing some final fiddles with battening down the site to protect outside tools and building material, and hopefully getting a bit more backfill around the foundation to improve the drainage. We had another major rainfall this past weekend (Nov. 15-16) and a lot of water standing in the trenches around the foundation. It would be nice to have the grading complete enough that it runs off to exit into the storm drain. This also demonstrated the folly of my sunken pump enclosure idea. At the height of the rainfall on Saturday, as I was going out the car to go get some stuff, I noticed that the styrofoam enclosure had popped out of the ground. The pump was now covered with water which was almost to surface level. I pulled it out and disconnected it from the pipe to the well, and am now waiting for it to dry out and see if it is still functional. There was so much water with the runoff from the heavy rain that even now on Monday the pit is still 2/3 full. Time for a redesign of the pumphouse 😦
Wednesday morning, Nov 19; winter has arrived. Much more snow a little north and west of here as well as in London, but definitely Winter.

Winter blanketing the foundations, looking to the East.

Winter blanketing the foundations, looking to the East.

January, REAL Winter, worst in at least 10 year according to the locals.

January, REAL Winter, worst in at least 10 year according to the locals.

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2 Responses to “Preparing for Winter”

  1. jd Says:

    I just found your blog and I was wondering where you found your “recipe” for SBC? Is it less expensive to mix it up yourself or is there not a supplier near your building location?

    • tedspassivesolarhouse Says:

      Yes, the home-made SBC is less expensive, and also better/stronger. I got the formula from a mix of sources, there is a publication on drystack techniques from US Dept of Agriculture, which has the basic proportions and old components. One of the commenters on the forum for http://www.drystacked.com put me onto new technology, e.g. PVA Polyvinyl Acohol fibers, which are stronger than fiberglass and actually forms a chemical bond with the cement, and I used a cement additive Acryl60 which gives added flexibility and bonding to the blocks. I make up the dry components for at least a day’s work (portland, lime, and fiber thoroughly mixed) in plastic bags (1/mixer load). That batch goes into the measured amount of water and Acryl60(a liquid polymer formula) in the mixer, and the measured amount of sand is shoveled in to get the working consistency of SBC for spraying. Not really all that more complicated than opening a bag, you just have to fill the bag in advance. PVA is not cheap. I am using it in all my concrete, footings, floors, and filled block cores. I got my fiber from :
      Nycon Inc, 12 Canal Street Ste. 102, Westerly RI 02891
      Phones: 401-596-3955, 800-456-9266
      Fax: 401-596-4242

      Formula is Portland 19.5 lb, Mason’s lime 3.75 lb, PVA 4 oz, Sand 20lbs Acryl 60 -1 qt, Water 3 qts

      I hope this is useful info.

      Ted

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