solar update

Greetings,

 I thought you’d like an update on the solar system, as I’m not blogging any more (I got tired of not getting any feedback. Blogging would work for me if I got money, adoration or hot Turkish Houseboys eager to please, but as it stands….).  You’ll be happy to hear that Radiant Engineering, the firm which designed the system, had $115k embezzled by the receptionist. That lovely lady who wrote me threatening emails claiming that her boss could do no wrong…. So that’s nice. God seems to be on my revenge team.

          I never got any satisfaction from either RE or the plumber, Bruce Gramaux at Ginnaty plumbing, and had finally written the whole thing off to being cheated, so I was heating my house by the wood stove. Lucky for me, the national forests around here are chock-full of standing dead trees just begging to be chopped down and thrown into the wood stove, since they have been infested with pine bark beetles, spruce bud worms and, – it wouldn’t surprise me – existential angst for good measure. I have oodles of firewood chopped and ready. Then I found a fellow over in near Missoula who was kind enough to slog through a whole bunch of emailing pictures and suggestions back and forth, while he tried to figure out what wasn’t working on the system.

          With Greg’s help, I replaced one valve, which was nice, but not helpful. Then I disconnected another and hotwired the boiler directly, and am now able to turn it on and make it put heat into the floor. It can only be on full blast or off, so every so often I turn it on for a few hours to keep the slab warm. One solar panel has been working its little heart out, after Mike – who seems to be a better sort of plumber than the others, but there’s time yet for him to disappoint –  took it apart and repaired it. RE and the Viessmann company insisted that that was impossible, but they were, as ever, wrong.

          In the meantime I worked with the area representative of Viessmann down in Colorado to get the other panel replaced. They said it was a good will gesture, but it didn’t work. I wouldn’t recommend Viessmann to Dick Cheney.  The negotiations for replacing the panel only took two years, but finally they came through. The hoops they made me jump through for their ‘largesse’ were such that I’m grateful for the years that I’ve practiced yoga.  Today, the second panel was finally installed, and despite my having lost some of the hardware, and Viessmann not having provided some of the adjuncts they had promised, Mike’s ingenuity pulled us through. We’ll see what THAT bill looks like soon enough, no doubt.

          Like most of the other people who know a plumbing framus from a heating gee-gaw, Mike is of the opinion that the design was hideously over-complicated from the beginning.  I did run the design by a engineering type or two before I agreed to the project, but no one had anything helpful to say then. Then was then. Do I sound bitter? Oh, good. Anyway, Mike took some pics and is going to draw up a proposal for re-jiggering the system, re-using most of the parts but eliminating a lot and replacing some to make something that will actually work. Snort. We’ll see. My financial obligations are already such that I’m learning all about beans. If only I could pay him in hand-thrown pottery sinks.

          So that’s the all the news that isn’t. Aside from that, life is pretty much bearable. Jiminy the cat left me a mouse head to discover with my bare feet. She’s so thoughtful. Allie the dog never thinks of that.

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Bad, bad, bad

          I’m not exactly sure what I last wrote about the saga of my non-operational heating system, and I’m a little …. cautious…. about reading up on it because I don’t need reminding about exactly how painful its all been. So let me summarize: I discovered that the Divicon circulation pump hadn’t been working since the beginning, and the glycol had just been sitting in the solar panels, festering – or as they say in solar-panel-world; stagnating, rather than circulating into the 80 gallon hot water tank like it was supposed to do to heat my floor and also to pre-heat the domestic hot water tank.  Got it? The panels were making plenty of heat, but it wasn’t getting circulated into the system which means that not only didn’t they add to the heating of my home, but he panels were getting corroded. One of the panels subsequently started to leak. Continue reading

over whose head?

          In every culture I’ve ever encountered, gloating is, all in all, frowned upon. And it should be, because there is an element of malice in it. Lots of cultures tolerate boasting and even encourage it in the form of machismo, but boasting is to gloating what irony is to lying. It’s the element of ill will which turns our stomachs. None of us think we harbor a lot of ill will, which is silly, since only one of us was Mother Theresa. I think it was Gehlek Rimpoche who said that we all say we don’t have much anger, that we don’t think we have a problem with people, but just wait until someone accuses us of something we didn’t do; all that anger and ego will pop up, larger than life and scarier than Pee Wee Herman in a darkened movie theater. Well, I’m just going to admit that I do feel so beleaguered and harried by all the Continue reading

back to a wood stove

          I figured that I may as well admit defeat, so I went ahead and installed a wood stove in my house. First Gertie gave me a tiny, cute, cute little home-made looking jobbie, which took major surgery to get the door open because of the massive build up of rust inside it. Before attempting the install Bob and I set it outside with a stick of stove pipe jammed in the top and built a fire to burn out all that rust. It burned all right, but not great. Home made. When we (once again that would the Royal We, since Bob did all the tool-wielding. I just tried to be helpful.) tried to hook it up we Continue reading

Water well: check.

Here’s a post from may 07 which I never posted! Oops. Well drillers are an unusual species. They’re one part geologist, one part machinist, one part businessman, one part dirty day laborer and the rest is really just a mish-mash. I know this because I’ve spoken with so many in the past few weeks. In this neck of the woods there is plenty of ground water, so wells tend to be shallow, and shallow wells don’t make money for well-drillers, so I’ve spoken with quite a few. The ones nearby don’t want the job because they know that along with having a lot of ground water, we also have a lot of rocks. Big rocks. Enormous, actually. And they charge by the Continue reading

So sue me.

          We live in litigious times, don’t we? For those of you without a dictionary, that means we sue each other over anything and nothing. Its hard to say who’s the biggest hypocrite: Elliot Spitzer or Larry Craig, but I wouldn’t sue either one of them.  I’ll go on the record saying that I really, really, really don’t care what they do in bed. Really, I don’t. They could do it with radishes or thigh-high pleather boots and a whip, and it still wouldn’t perk up an urge to investigate further. Unless, of course, they hurt or abuse someone, which neither of them seems to have done, except in the course of normal life in which we all get a bit hurt and Continue reading

The blame game

          As usual, I spoke to soon in my last post. Sure, the readout says “heat” , but the circulation pump was not sending that heat to the storage tank. The circulation pump is not doing anything. And the pressure in the system just keeps leaking back to zero. Bruce (he’s been demoted from Captain status due to a profound failure to give a damn ((yuk))) was lured out here one more time to fiddle with stuff because we were operating under the assumption that the circulation pump had failed and had to be replaced, and he recharged the Continue reading

hotsy totsy

          Some weeks ago I went for a hike with Allie and Chance on a cold, sunny Sunday, and coming home, I was cheered by seeing the relief valve on top of my solar panels emitting steam. When I got home I went immediately into the control room to see what sort of temperatures were out and about it the system. I was thrilled that the panels had reached 104 degrees Celsius, showing that even though it was cold out, the sunniness was producing some admirable heat. I felt like calling Dick Cheney up in person, and telling him a thing or two about how to stop invading dusty countries. Continue reading