Monday, November 20 2006
This morning on a walk with the dogs back from the southeastern tip of the new property, I passed through its middle section, which sits at the bottom of a valley and is relatively inaccessible from my trail system, which runs along the escarpment above and provides few ways to get down the intervening steep terrain. These lowlands are accessible by a logging road coming in across protected state land from the bus turnaround on Dug Hill Road, and I was surprised to find that, based on the familiar blazing pattern that marks the property's long southwestern border, an acre or two of its lowlands had actually been logged at some point in the recent past, perhaps ten years ago. The logging had left only a few scattered trees standing; most of the logged area is covered with the dense brush typical of recovering clearcuts in the East. Hmm, I could have a garden down here at some point; it's the one place on the new property with appreciable amounts of both soil and sun.
I spent the afternoon running around making computer-themed housecalls, first in Woodstock and then at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary. In between these places, I constantly scanned the roadside for firewood, two large pieces of which I managed to find and load into the hatchback.
I'm always surprised by how much wood I find myself burning at this time of year, so early in the heating season. Part of the reason I go through it so quickly is that I've yet to turn the boiler on, so the woodstove has the job of heating the entire house. At a certain point, though, the laboratory (the farthest part of the heated house from the woodstove) becomes too cold for me to do useful work there, and I'm forced to flip on the switch with the red switch plate. Today was that certain point, and this evening for the first time this season I energized the boiler.
This was to be the first test of my rewiring of the boiler's heat determination circuitry (a couple low-tech aquastats and a relay inside a Honeywell L8124). I'd made it so the boiler only fired when it sensed its internal water temperature had fallen below a certain value, completely ignoring the pump and valve settings of any of the zones (it used to also fire when certain zones asked for heat). The rewiring was designed to minimize the amount of firing in hopes of improving the efficiency of the burning of precious fossil fuels. When the boiler fired up, though, I noticed that the pump for one set of zones wasn't running even though the thermostat for those zones called for heat. In the end, though, it turned out that there is some fancy wiring hidden away somewhere that only permits one of the two boiler circulator pumps to run at any one time, meaning not more than half the zones can be heated simultaneously. That didn't seem like a big problem, so I didn't investigate further.
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