Eliot Mason

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since Nov 17, 2016
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dog bike woodworking
Beavercreek, OR
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Recent posts by Eliot Mason


Snakes are hard to use on toilets, at least via the bowl.  Better to attack the clog via a nearby cleanout or, if necessary, by removing the toilet from the flange and going straight into the pipe.

Pressure Washers with special "jetter" tips can also work very well.

Of course sometimes  - like like week! - all your attempts are for naught and a pro comes in and resolves it.  
I'll second two of Mike's points:

1) don't you dare roof until you've got that OSB trimmed at the top - and for that you'll need to settle on a product and follow the instructions.
2) a saw may be faster/easier than a giant hole saw.

On cutting the blocking... hubby may find it easier to just whack the blocking out with a hammer, pulls nails, cut down, replace.  Otherwise its a lot of ladder work.

Second, in terms of sizing holes/gaps ... the more the merrier. You really want that air shooting through the system with as few impediments as possible.  Your bottle neck is mostly likely your air entry system on the low side.  Make a decision on what you'll install there and then keep the same size all the way through.

In terms of gap between the insulation and roof osb ... 1.5" or better I'd say.  I've had roofing systems spec'd for me with 1/2" air spaces, so you don't need a giant space, but the greater cross section translates into less friction/resistance, and since the rockwool won't be perfectly installed (we are human... and its a soft, squishy thing....) having an error absorbing margin on top is a good idea.
3 days ago
Good discussion.

My area isn't good for hay - late spring rains push harvest dates past the optimal time. Cows don't care about rain.  I'm also close enough to some world-class hay growing areas so its easy to get good hay.  My hay grower doesn't use herbicides - they're signs of poor management and an unnecessary expense.  He also seems to mostly sell to cattle & dairy operations, not horses, and that seems to make a difference  (we don't eat the horses here).  Lots of my neighbors grow and cut hay - I think horses eat it, my cows just look at, look at me and their eyes say "We'd rather eat dirt" and they walk away.

So growing hay really isn't an option.

I looked into making haylage - it doesn't require dry conditions and the fermentation of it seems to make otherwise less delectable bits into something tasty.  But ouch, its so expensive to get the equipment.  I think it was at least $30k and someone else told me it was closer to $80k.  That's a LOT of purchased hay, especially since I'm a really small scale.  Even buying haylage instead of hay is a problem because the bales are 1,000 lbs or more and I can't move them with my current equipment.  And there's all the plastic...

5 days ago

You're welcome - glad my reply was helpful to you.

I regularly use Rockwool in my projects.  Its the only material I've used in cavities since 2014.  I also use it in interior walls as a sound insulator.

In regards to "what would I use" well, that depends.  As Aaron noted, sometimes there is a call for placing the insulation on the outside of the structure and that completely changes the discussion.  For sheet insulation I've used a lot of PolyIso - it has a higher R value per inch than just about everything else but I'm still not sure where it falls in terms of toxic-ick.  I know that the omnipresent "blue board" or XPS (eXtruded Polystyrene) has an awful environmental footprint (b/c of the gas they use to expand the foam), although there is now some sort of alternative XPS using a different expansion agent that is supposed to be significantly better.  EPS (Expanded Polystyrene - and yes, really, two products that start with the same letters...) looks like a classic bead-based white insulation, er "coffee cup".  EPS is a lot harder to cut and break, but has a much lower footprint and similar R values.

There are many other types of insulation - blown cellulose, embedded straw, actual wool, cork boards, chopped blue jeans - some of them are pretty esoteric but they can all have a place depending on a design and goals.
5 days ago
Insulation and air movement are critical building functions, getting them wrong can have tremendous (and expensive) consequences.

Rockwool insulation is a great product - just be sure to have a cheap bread knife (the serrations are critical) to cut it.

It looks like your roof framing is 2x8 or 2x10 - creating a much deeper cavity than the r23 Rockwool batt.  thus as Mike says if you push the batt in betwern the framing and keep the batt flush (or nearly so) with the interior plane you will have a good 2+ inches of air space under the roof. BUT here's the rub - EACH pair of framing members creates a little "attic" - there is no way for all that air to mix and mingle and flow.  Further, I see some structural blocking between the roof framing, further segmenting your "attic" into a bazillion pieces.  

To create air flow the attic needs to have low-point air entry and high-point air-exits so that as the air in the attic warms it just pumps itself out.  I would have used shorter blocking (flush on interior, gap on roof side). Fortunately you don't need the full height of those blocks, so get a hole saw and drill away the top (I'd think 2 x 3" holes wold do).  The roof on the left of the picture is complicated because it abuts another living area; the roof on the right looks like you could have both air entry and air exits in the roof fascia (so long as you don't have blocking in the way).

There are fancy products for making a continuous vent along the peak of a roof. Turns out the same idea can be used here ...  the roof sheathing would need to stop 2-3" from the wall intersection, creating a window for all the air to escape.  The vent layer (a corrugated plastic sandwich thing, about 1/2" thick) would be placed at the edge of the sheathing.  You would need your flashing to come down the wall to extend down the roof far enough to cover the vent.  Yep, that'd do it.

And yes, others have thought of this.  Excellent. For instance  https://www.gaf.com/en-us/roofing-products/residential-roofing-products/ventilation-and-attic-vents/exhaust/hip-vents/cobra-hip-vent

5 days ago
Thanks to Bruce and Daniel for pointing out the error in my ways!

I agree that using a 3 wire cable for two 110/120 circuits is "iffy" and certainly "cheating" - and I'll take their word for it.  It works in a pinch, but its a clever solution not a smart solution.  I think the local ground mitigates some of the dangers but not all.

I retract my suggestion.

BUT you could run 240v power to the panel and then put the internal circuit on one phase (and thus get 120v) and the external circuit on the other phase.  Same result but within the code.  (... right?)
1 week ago
Oh also ... some folks suggest that refrigerator compressors are particularly sensitive to voltage drops - its like a minor brown-out.  I don't know if its true (today or ever) but most electronics are designed to operate within a fairly tight voltage range.  Its not just safety nellies who say you shouldn't run appliances off an extension cord - I recall my refrigerator warranty being dependent on NOT using an extension cord.

So ... bigger gauge might be worth it!

Also, 8/3... with 8/3 instead of 8/2 you can choose to run 240v (as mentioned) or you can split the circuit and run two 30a circuits (assuming your box is a the "sub-panel" type without a main breaker).  That just gives you some options, such as powering everything in the house on one circuit and then having an exterior circuit to power saws, pumps, electric car chargers, etc.
1 week ago
If you have a 30a breaker in the source box and a 30a breaker in your house that's not quite right.  The breakers are supposed to be sized down, generally 80% of the load above.  Thus a 40a in the source and a 30a in your house, or a 30a in the source and 20 (25?) in your house.

It may not make a lot of sense at first, but you want to have the closest breaker be the one that trips in an overload.  B/C of the aforementioned drops in voltage with wire run its possible to surge your panel to just under 30a and not throw the breaker ... but the source one will go!  And now you've got to walk 200' in the rain & dark & cold....

A 40a breaker takes the same space as a 30a, but I think (without referring to a chart...) that you need 8g wire with the 40a (otherwise there's the risk that the wire melts before the breaker is triggered).  You're doing that gauge anyway, so consider spending an extra $10 or so on the breaker.

Electricians and municipalities seem to have differing opinions on the need for a local ground rod.  It may not be necessary, but you increase the safety of the system with a local ground rod.
1 week ago

A mix of log diameter sounds good... get some branch wood and you can build something pretty tight.

Foam as a way to air-seal the outside is possible, and if you have to use the stuff then at least you're minimizing.  Mortar is a mess, its heavy, it has a lot of embedded energy and it doesn't work well ... so yeah, don't do that!

My concern is that what you're talking about, in its pure form, is a bunch of roundwood stacked and held together with some nails.  Sealing the ends creates empty spaces in the middle - and I'm not sure if that's good (dead air is insulation) or bad (a place for critters to run, air movement, minimal contact).  I know that your wall built with cob filling all the spaces would  almost certainly perform better (thermal mass, air sealing, mechanical bonding) - but the question isn't "which is better,?" but "can you get a functional wall with rounds and foam?"

Over short distances, some types of foam can definitely act as a structural glue but I'd want to minimize the span of the foam to increase its strength.  On the outside, the foam will be hit with UV light which the foam doesn't like (unless you get a UV resistant version).  In that case you'll have to come up with some sort of screen (cob or paint?).  I'm not sure that's making construction easier...
3 weeks ago

Are you stacking 24" rounds or 24" split wood?  Split or cord wood is angular and thus stacks with less deadspace, but with rounds you have a LOT of deadspace to fill.  That's a LOT of foam.  Foam is expensive.  Foam is full of nasty things and discussions of foam get you moved to the space dedicated to toxic ick.  Better to find smaller rounds, split wood, branches, etc to use to fill.

Although not structural, mosses can be used to clink.  I'd think cob would be preferable, adding a lot of mass as well as tightly bonding the wood.  Adding sawdust or saw chips to the cob would give a thermal expansion coefficient closer to that of the wood.

I hope others with actual experience can chip in.

3 weeks ago