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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 3:04 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:30 pm
Posts: 22
Great work bluey
Maybe your floor/boiler would work if you had a thermostat controlling the boiler input temp?
I am sure you have a better idea on how it all should work.... Justa thought
After delivery of roof trusses I decided to let the walls cure and take the week of so have spent it sailing
On the bay
First time in months have not woken at night and mulled over building dilemmas to distraction
Will be good to return to building Monday refreshes and reinvigorated
Keep up the good work


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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:21 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 5:29 am
Posts: 179
Location: Blue Mountains
Homeless, It is good to hear that you have been able to treat yourself to a week sailing. I find that I really have to force myself to take time out away from the house.

The thermostat idea is a good one but I am sure now that the main problem is that I have set the hot water pipes down too far in the insulation. They are just not giving off the heat. This was proved when I made 2 pavers and sandwiched an exposed part of the pipe in the join between them. These pavers heated up in just a couple of hours. I had been running near boiling water through the bedroom floor pipes for 2 days without any noticable increase in temperature.

Over the last couple of days I have taken up the bedroom floor and relaid half of it with the pipes above the insulation and totally encased in the earth floor. Soon I will connect up the boiler again and see what difference it makes.

Bluey.


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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:26 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:34 am
Posts: 85
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Bluey wrote:
I find that I really have to force myself to take time out away from the house.


I know exactly what you mean :) In a way, I think winter is a blessing in disguise - I curse the weather when it interferes with my plans, but it does force me to take some time away from the building which I'm sure is a good thing ;)

Bluey wrote:
Over the last couple of days I have taken up the bedroom floor and relaid half of it with the pipes above the insulation and totally encased in the earth floor. Soon I will connect up the boiler again and see what difference it makes.


Such a shame! That floor was perfection itself (or so it seemed from the photos), but as you mentioned it's better to get it right now than find out that your hydronics don't work after you've made lots more progress. Such is the way of the trailblazer ;)

Out of interest, how much surface area do you have in contact with the earth floor? Circular section pipe is going to present the minimum surface area possible for any given volume.. perhaps it would be advantageous to lay a rectangular-section "pipe" under the floor to gain better thermal transfer to the earth?

Off the top of my head the only rectangular section I can think of would be steel downpipe, but even then the large volume wouldn't necessarily be a problem - I wouldn't think you're going to be concerned about flow rate and you could accommodate them with channels which would be reasonably easy to cut too.

Just a thought...

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Simon.

The adventures of an owner-builder in the Tallarook Ranges


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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:05 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 5:29 am
Posts: 179
Location: Blue Mountains
Today I was able to test the new underfloor heating system and it is now working well. This time I lifted the pipes out of the insulation and packed the soil around them. I will take some pic's and explain more about the process soon.
Quote:
Such a shame! That floor was perfection itself

Yes, it took a bit to convince myself to pull that floor up but now it is done, I am very happy with the result.
Quote:
Out of interest, how much surface area do you have in contact with the earth floor?

Originally there was very little of the pipe contacting the soil. The pipes are 16mm OD plastic tube that is specifically designed for hydronic floor heating systems. I decided not to experiment with this as any leak in the floor would be a disaster. Now the pipes are completely surrounded by soil and the pipes are spaced at 200mm centres.

I ran the boiler all day and the water running back into the boiler was still running cold. The temperature difference between the pipe as it entered the earth floor and where it came back out was huge. So different to last time.

Thanks for the ideas, but I think I have it sorted now.

Bluey


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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:10 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:34 am
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
Bluey wrote:
I ran the boiler all day and the water running back into the boiler was still running cold. The temperature difference between the pipe as it entered the earth floor and where it came back out was huge. So different to last time.


This is excellent news! Glad to hear you've (probably) got it sorted 8)

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Simon.

The adventures of an owner-builder in the Tallarook Ranges


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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:32 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:34 am
Posts: 85
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Boy, it sure is quiet around here these days! Has the weather been putting as much a dampener on your project as it has on mine? ;)

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Simon.

The adventures of an owner-builder in the Tallarook Ranges


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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:10 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 5:29 am
Posts: 179
Location: Blue Mountains
Simon,
I wish I had the weather to blame for the lack of progress. Unfortunately I have carved up the end of my left thumb and things are basically on hold for a while :( . The good news is that I still have all of the thumb, there are no broken bones and that it is generally healing well. I had the plumber lined up to connect up the remainder of the floor heating and I was rushing a bit, drilling lots of large holes in strips of timber that I was using to secure the heating pipe to the top of the insulated panels. I had a spade bit in the drill press and after 50 or so holes, one grabbed and the timber dragged my thumb through the bit :shock: . Yes, it hurt as much as it sounds.

I found out it is pretty amazing what they can do with medical superglue though. Everything should be fine, it will just take time. I have been using it as an opportunity to do some of the things that I have been putting on hold due to being busy with the house such as visit relatives and friends that I haven't seen for a long time.

It reconfirms that the innocent looking drill press needs just as much respect as the table saw and thicknesser.

Bluey.

PS I have a whole new appreciation of how useful thumbs are now...


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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:35 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
Bluey wrote:
Unfortunately I have carved up the end of my left thumb ... Yes, it hurt as much as it sounds.


Aww crap, Bluey!!! Not good!!

I know how easy it is to do though, a few months ago I misjudged the height of the blade on my table saw and cut a very nice groove in the end of my right middle finger - somewhat surprisingly, the first injury I've inflicted on myself in the 20 years I've been using it! :shock:

Bluey wrote:
I found out it is pretty amazing what they can do with medical superglue though.


Good stuff, isn't it? A few years ago my youngest boy stood up on a chair on our back verandah and tipped it over backwards, which launched him head first into the fence. He managed to find the only proud nail with his forehead, which cut a nice flap of skin open. The hospital just glued it back down again, and although he calls it his "Harry Potter" scar it's barely visible now.

Bluey wrote:
PS I have a whole new appreciation of how useful thumbs are now...


Ain't it the truth, you don't know what you've got until its (almost) gone ;)

Anyway, stay safe! The build is there waiting for you when your all healed :)

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Simon.

The adventures of an owner-builder in the Tallarook Ranges


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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 3:51 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:51 pm
Posts: 104
Location: Tungkillo, South Australia
Damn Bluey, that's some bad luck. Hope you have a quick recovery.


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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 6:19 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 5:29 am
Posts: 179
Location: Blue Mountains
After a frustrating 5 weeks with no building progress, my thumb has healed enough to do some light jobs. I have laid all of the in-floor heating pipes and the plumber has hooked up the control manifold. I am now just waiting for the gas to be connected and the plumber will return and hook up the boiler and then I will have heat. It will be very useful for helping to dry the earth floor when it gets installed.

Image

I have made an adjustment to the original plan. The area with reo will have a concrete slab poured and the far area in the above photo will be earth floor. I think that having a slab in the area that has the kitchen, entry and main circulation space will be more practical and it will still be nice to have an earth floor in the living/dining space.

This photo is taken from the living/dining space looking towards the kitchen/entry/spare bedroom area and then the bathroom and main bedroom area in the distance. I love how the sun reaches in to the full depth of the house at this time of year.
Image

This is the control manifold for the heating system.

Image

It is such a simple system. The hot water enters from the upper large pipe on the right and is distrubuted through all of the valves, returning to the boiler via the lower large pipe. Each set of valves controls the amount of water that flows to the different areas so individual rooms can be turned down or off. There is a wireless remote thermostat that you can place anywhere in the house (logically the main area you want to heat). Once you get that space tuned to the right temperature, you then fine tune the flow rates to the other areas so that they maintain the relative temp you want to achieve in each area. The pipes are a closed system so they are not connected to the mains at all. There is a fill point and a bleed valve to remove any air bubbles. I will be very interested to see how economical/efficient it is to run as it is a system that you need to leave on. Definately a wonderful type of heating but I'm guessing not the greenest component in the house. Hopefully with the northern aspect, insulation and huge internal thermal mass, it will not need to kick-in so often.

Bluey


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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 6:04 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 5:29 am
Posts: 179
Location: Blue Mountains
The concrete slab for the main central area is now poured. After years of failed attempts, I have finally mastered the dark art of concrete finishing (thankfully as I am planning on using the concrete as the final floor finish). It has a steel trowel finish that is all done by hand.

Image

Image

I now know that the secret is in the timing. Previously I had always rushed things and started floating the surface too early, resulting in a powdery surface. With the cold conditions this meant that I was doing the first float around 10pm (once the surface bleed water had completely disappeared) and then I came back in the morning for the final steel trowel. It was hard going as the surface was quite firm, resulting in blistered hands and sore arms. All worth it in the end though, a really smooth, hard finish. My friendly concretor I hired for the deck slab showed me the tricks.

The plan is to use iron sulphate on the surface of the slab to stain it a mottled rust colour. This is just lawn fertiliser that I bought from Bunnings for $10. Apparently you wet the slab and sprinkle it around, trying to avoid getting it on the walls. After a day or so the iron in it rusts and stains the concrete. This is repeated as necessary to achieve the desired colour. Once it is dry it can be swept off and I will then apply a clear finish (might go the same beeswax polish as the earth floor or play it safe and use a clear sealer?). I remember my parents used it on their lawn and it stained the footpath. I have also seen it used to good effect on a straw bale house. Anyway, worth a go I reckon.

The living/dining area has had an earth levelling screed applied over the heating pipes. Once this is set I will lay earth pavers on top as I did for the previous earth floor.

Bluey


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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:37 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 5:29 am
Posts: 179
Location: Blue Mountains
Hello all, I'm back!!
Life seems to have gotten in the way over the last few months but things are starting to progress again.

I have stained the concrete slab with the iron sulphate and I am really pleased with the results. I soaked the slab and then mixed the entire bottle (500g) in a watering can of water. I tried to pour this as evenly as possible over the whole slab (5mx6m). It seemed to be drying out too quickly so I sprayed it again with water and then let it sit. After about 15 minutes it started to rust and by half an hour it had turned fluro orange :shock: . I thought that I had really over done it but once it all dried, there was a bright orange powder on top of the slab which could be swept away leaving a pleasantly mottled orange/brown slab. I have given it 2 coats of clear sealer...

Image

I have also framed up the bathroom walls with recycled oregan...

Image

The bath is mounted on a hebel blockwork wall. I did play around with the idea of using some big toughened glass sheets that I picked up as a bathroom wall lining. The idea was to mount them on a timber wall frame and then fill the cavity with something interesting like smashed crystals of toughened glass. Unfortunately this has been put in the too hard basket as trying to mount things on the wall like toilet cisterns and getting the plumbing to run where I wanted it was proving too difficult. Instead I am going to put up standard villa board and maybe some corrugated iron instead of tiles. The wall that is not framed (behind the handbasin bench) is going to be either ironstone or possibly made from slabs of old sleepers. We'll see, I keep changing my mind.

The plan for the floor is still to have removable slatted timber floor panels over a drained floor. The floor has had a topping screed installed to tidy up the falls and is now waiting to cure before I can apply the waterproofing...

Image

I finally managed to pick up a heap of left over insulation blanket on ebay so now the roof has its first layer of insulation.

Hopefully things tick along for a while now,
Bluey


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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:11 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:51 pm
Posts: 104
Location: Tungkillo, South Australia
Glass panels would have been an interesting feature if they had been workable.

Can I ask you how the sealer you used on the walls has performed to date, and could you confirm the name and type of sealer you have used?


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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:19 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 5:29 am
Posts: 179
Location: Blue Mountains
Angelis,
The sealer I have used is STABILISED EARTH WATER REPELLENT SB (SEWR-SB) by TechDry

http://www.techdry.com.au/data/Stabilised%20Earth%20Water%20Repellent%20data.pdf

At this stage I have only used it on the garden shed and the walls have not shown any signs of weathering. It has been in place for several years now.

The garage and house have not had any sealant. There is some slight weathering with tiny pockets being washed out. These are mainly tiny bits of clay that have not mixed with the cement. Once the clay is washed out the weathering stops.

I will probably seal these walls as well but I am not sure if I really need to.

The Techdry was really easy to apply by just putting it in a poison style pump spray. You then just soak the wall until it just starts to run. It dries completely clear. It does cost a bit and you go through a bit depending how porous the wall is.
Bluey


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 Post subject: Re: Rammed Earth Journey
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 3:07 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:51 pm
Posts: 104
Location: Tungkillo, South Australia
Cheers for that.


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