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A renovation update

April and May I felt myself rather exhausted, and I had to rest a lot. I didn't do that much with my house renovation project. June and July I did my best to relax and to gather energies. And now I feel ready to work. So, let's have an overall look of the situation;

At the moment I only have very limited electricity, temporarily connected with an extension cable. I think that before making any more finished electric installations I need to finish the walls, outside and inside. Anyhow, that was the main reason for disconnecting the electricity, so that I know that all the old cables are dead. The outer side of the walls is half done, and should be pretty easy to finish. On top of the old log wall I put fibreboard for extra insulation, and on top of that comes panelling. But there is yet another bad corner - a small portion of a log wall seems to be completely destroyed. Which means that I need to fix that before proceeding further with the rest of the wall project. Indoors I'd like to first remove all the old materials and replace them with new ones.

Then there is the chimney problem. The main chimney seems to be okay, but there is a problem with the connection of the parallel chimney of the smaller room. Yesterday and today I've been working at the attic, inspecting that connection. There was a fracture in the structure, which means a risk of getting the whole house burned down. I removed several brick to examine the structure, and realized that indeed it is badly designed. Also, the channels inside the chimney were arranged bit differently than I thought. I don't yet know what to do with it, as the whole situation needs some careful planning.

Without electricity all of my cooking and heating is based on burning wood or other fuels. For the summer I've been cooking outdoors, but maybe I need a safe stove indoors for the winter. That should be doable, yes. A stove is good for cooking, but isn't enough to keep the whole house properly warm in the coldest time of winter. In a way, the wisest thing to do with the chimney would be to tear down the whole structure and then rebuild it from the ground level up. But that is a big project, and I don't believe I could get it done before the winter hits. So, maybe I once again need a some sort of temporary solution to survive the next winter, and then I could spend the winter making new renovation plans for the next summer... The easiest method of additional heating is portable electric radiators. But I guess that to safely use those I'd better have at least one properly installed socket. And before installing a socket I need a finished wall to install the socket into.

So, this reasoning gives me a list of priorities. First, fix that bad part in the log wall. Then, quickly finish the outer side of the wall. Furiously tear down the old materials from the inner side of the wall. Finish the inner sides of the walls. Call the electrician to install a socket or two. And remember to ensure that the kitchen stove is safe to use. Hmm, seems like a lot of work. And being low on money surely doesn't help. Well, but getting nervous won't help either, so better just stay calm and focused, to work step by step, to eat and to rest properly to keep me going. No pictures this time, but I'll be posting them as I proceed with the renovation project.

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Installing sockets is actually pretty easy=)
A lot of YouTube videos on that point as well.

Well, to be precise, the whole story goes like this:

Before I started the renovation project, on the outer wall there was a metal box with fuses and electric connections inside. To renovate the outer side of the wall, I needed that box relocated. Unluckily, the box was secured with bolts which were behind the main electric connection. I mean, the one which connects the house to the grid. So, to relocate the box it was necessary to climb up the pole, disconnecting the wires there. And that is something I'm happy to leave for the professionals to do... Screwing up things with the main grid runs a risk of either causing half of the village going out of electricity, or then just getting myself killed by an accidental electric shock. (After surviving a hit by thunder bolt I'm not very eager to try anything like that again).

So, now I have electricity coming down from the aerial wires, all the way to the box which is now located on a temporary wooden stand near the wall. If I want a proper socket inside the house, it naturally needs a cable which is also connected into a fuse inside the box. And with so many temporary solutions and make-shift hacks here and there, I'd like to have some things finished - for example, getting the metal box back to its final place, before connecting any more cables into the fuses. And again, to get the box relocated needs a professional climbing up the pole... So, that's why I need to call an electrician to get a simple socket properly installed =)

alright, it seems reasonable, what you said.

for example, several months ago i needed a separate connection for our electric muffle oven. it operates 4k Watt, so 10A and 12A automatic fuse doesn't work (and all the sockets were under those fuses), given that voltage is 220V. i needed minimum 19A. after all, process went rather smooth. more over, i connected straight to the main wire. and seems like we don't have to pay fot the oven electrivity, he he he :)

that was a first time i realized electricity is actually easier that i always thought.

and it'll be very interesting to hear about your encounter with thinderbolt someday!

Hehe, both interesting and inspiring! And good luck with the oven!

The thunderbolt story is here: http://www.enormouselk.com/?q=erkkasblog/thunderstruck&page=4#
One more detail: We were standing on a big stone which was next to the small cabin. My younger brother said that he saw the stone momentarily surrounded by a glow of blue light, and then I started running. So, the exact details are somewhat unknown - nobody knows if I took a direct hit of a thunderbolt, or if it was just a smaller branch of the bolt which hit the main house. Anyhow, for me it was a classical near-death experience. It is a funny thing - I was not left traumatized, I didn't develop a phobia for thunderstorms. But it left me with a heightened sense of respect towards high voltage electricity. I prefer to stay on the safe side of the blue light it gives =)

I used to be an electrician. I don't know anything at all about Finland's electrical code, and I imagine that you use a metric wiring sizing scheme over there that I know nothing about. But if there is anything you are unsure about, I will try to help you out. I am pretty dumb though, but I will try.

I have a similar thing going on at my house: Very limited electricity while my floors are torn out for replacement. The original wiring was left over from the 1950s and was ungrounded asbestos-wrapped cloth cable stapled on the outside of the walls. Very unsafe, so I ripped it all out.

I installed a service disconnect on the outside of the house, to make it easier to comply with the electrical inspector (so he wouldn't have to go inside and see the mess of ancient wiring that I was tearing out, even though it was no longer hooked up). That will make it easier to run power to my motorcycle shop and barn once I get my buildings moved/built there.

I put a GFCI receptacle on the outside of the house, wired into a breaker in the disconnect, and ran an extension cord through a window. At the moment I have the old panel box inside hooked up on the feed-through lugs, too, and a couple of receptacles on it in that one little room, and still extension cords everywhere. I am going to have to tear out the old panel box and put in a smaller subpanel, though, and then I will reuse the feed-through lugs and the big panel in the barn for the arc welder and stuff.

So at the moment I am just using the electricity to run a chest freezer converted into a high efficiency refrigerator and my power tools. I am lighting my house with oil lamps and cooking on an hand-pump Indonesian kerosene pressure stove.

I actually like it that way, though. I am going to continue to use kerosene for lighting, and I am waiting for a modest mutual fund to mature, and then I am going to buy one of the high efficiency Amish wood-burning cook stoves. They are way better (and safer) than the old Monarchs and stuff that people were cooking on around here in the 50s and 60s.

That house already burned once, back in the 1940s (fortunately it only burned the part of roof off before the rain put it out, and they were able to fix it instead of tearing down the house)... I don't want to burn it again! Lol.

Like many things that seem "old fashioned", I think that eschewing a certain amount of convenience helps me to be more thankful for what little I have, and to be more grounded and humble. Indeed, I really like the ideal of the simple lifestyle that the Amish and the Old Order Mennonites have going on, except that I am not really on board with the particulars of a good many of their religious beliefs... :3

Anyway, I look forward to seeing your progress on your house-work, too! I hope that maybe we can share ideas and stuff as we both continue on with our projects. :D

And on the subject of sharing renovation ideas.... If you don't need to have a fireplace, I think that I would install a modern double-wall stainless chimney (or at least a flexible liner) inside of your existing flue, rather than try to fix the flue you have. Then you can still have the look of the old-fashioned stone flue, but not have to worry about burning your house down.... Seriously man, there is an old house that burns here every year from bad flues......

It is expensive to buy the liners or stainless chimneys, and I definitely like to do things on the cheap whenever possible. But there are two places where I think it does not pay to do a bad/cheap job: Foundations/sills and chimneys. Doing both of those right is expensive, but still way cheaper than building a new house when the old one falls/burns down, hehe. :3

Yup. When I bought the house, the sellers said that they suspect that the main chimney is fractured. So I checked those modern stainless systems to install inside the flue. But before doing that I asked the professional chimney-sweepers to inspect the chimney, and they said that the main flue is safe to use.

At the moment it seems that I still have that main flue intact. There is another flue from the main room, an opening for air ventilation, and then the parallel chimney from the smaller room - all of these three were connected to the second flue. And it it that connection which got fractured. So, maybe for the coming winter I'll just temporarily abandon the second flue altogether, using only the first flue for the kitchen stove.

That brings me to a question: Watching the videos from inside your house, it seems that your house has some sort of channels for circulating warm air to different rooms? Is it so, and if yes, how does it work? Is it designed to have a blower to circulate the air?

They are registers for an old propane furnace in the cellar (which doesn't work anymore). The big one in the foyer is the intake, and all the little ones are the hot air ducts.

I am planning to only really live in the side where the floor is torn out right now, in that room and the kitchen. I'll cut a cat door out onto the front porch and screen it in so she can poop outside of the house where I can't smell it and it is easier to clean up, and then I will shut off that side of the house so Ms Kitty can't go into the bathroom or the upstairs or the extra room that has my bed in it at the moment (it will eventually be a cat-free utility room where I do reloading and stuff that Ms Kitty shouldn't be into). So only those two main rooms will have cats, and I will move my bed into the room that has no floor right now, so that I can get Kitty Snuggles at night. :3

I plan to put a pellet/biomass stove in the room that has no floor at the moment, and then fill in the holes in the ceiling that let the heat upstairs. Then I want to repurpose the furnace ducts that run to the bathroom and the utility room into warm air vents that connect to an intake in the room next to the pellet stove. Then I will use a thermostat to turn a fan in the intake duct on and off, to blow hot air from the main living area into the bathroom and the utility room to keep it warm enough on that side of the house that the pipes underneath don't freeze.

I also plan to put small/cheap wall mount propane heaters in the utility room and bathroom, but to keep them turned down very low. Only as backup in case the pellet stove goes out or can't keep up with the dead of winter.

I should make a video about all that! :D Maybe tomorrow lol. I still need to edit today's!


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