Heating Installation, Phase 5 (December 2- 22, 2010)

Well, it’s been a long journey back to the heating installation project.   We last left off in, gulp, July, where Team Oamaru had installed the hot water cylinders in the attic and the radiators in the bedrooms.   When Pete and Kat next came up in October, we had them switch gears to work on the outbuilding bedrooms and outbuilding bathroom and I’m happy to report that we now have two functional additional bedrooms for guests and woofers alike.   The bathroom is not quite finished as we’ve put things on hold to focus on the heating project and hopefully we’ll resume work on that later this summer.


So back to the heating project.   The project management schedule looked like the following:

  • Phase 1: Demolition of existing infrastructure and installation of temporary stove  {March}  COMPLETED!
  • Phase 2:  Opening up of kitchen/living room wall and installation of structural wall beam and installation of reinforcing beams in attic space  {April}  COMPLETED!
  • Phase 3 and Phase 4:  Installation of hot water cylinders and some of the radiators  {May}  {June}  PARTIALLY COMPLETED just a wee bit!  {July}  Kind of COMPLETED!
  • Phase 5a:   Installation of remaining radiators and piping {June} {July/August} {September} {December}
  • Phase 5b:   Installation of Gourmet Cooker {July}  {August} {October} {December}

We were well behind our original schedule and Pete was determined to get the system working for us by Christmas.   His brother, Purple, an electriciany-sort-of-guy, came down for ten days to help out.   There was lots to accomplish.

1)  Movement of our external water tank.    Pete and Bruce decided that we should move our 2000 litre water tank (which fills from our spring) to a new location in order to get better water pressure/flow into the house.    Kat, in truly remarkable fashion, dug out a new platform amongst the trees in the upper part of the backyard for the tank.


Pete diverted water from our 25000 litre water tank (which fills from the stream) to the house while we worked on the moving of the spring water tank.   The tank was emptied, roped, and several of us dragged the tank about 50 metres into its new home.


Kat was bold enough to get in the tank and give it a good scrub as well as work with Pete to add additional fittings so we could divert water to various locales.


2)                  External replumbing of water pipes.   A trench was dug down the length of the backyard to put in water pipes from the newly moved water tank to the house.  Several different pipes were laid which would bring spring water to the house and to the outbuilding (for general water consumption, cooking, and showering).   Additionally, new pipes were laid to bring stream water to the house and outbuilding (for toilets and washing).


Bruce mapped out all the irrigation now laid around the property and it looks something like this.    Pretty scary, eh?   Still needs a bit of work!


3)  Internal replumbing of water pipes.   Walls were opened from the inside and outside to put in new pipes for the kitchen and bathroom taps and shower/bath.  We replaced the old steel pipes which were starting to corrode with newer plastic ones.   Additionally, new pipes were run from the hot water cylinder to all the new radiators in the house.


And Kat got on the roof one day to work on the installation of the hot water overflow pipe.   She’s a multi-talented gal!


4)  Installation of the new Gourmet stove.    The old stove was removed and the Gourmet stove installed.   Pete & Kat welded the pipes together that would circulate water from the stove up to the hot water cylinder.      We had our inaugural lighting of the stove on a hot summers day to burn off the fumes of the new stove.



5)  Rigging up of the electrical controls:   Well, I can’t profess to truly understand what all went on here except to say that Purple spent two full days sitting on a stool wiring up the main control box that would run the hot water heating system.   He and Pete also spent some time wiring up the controls in the attic at the hot water cylinder.


The control box is mounted on the living room wall so we can easily monitor the temperature of the hot water and thermal mass tanks as well as switch on any number of features like running the radiators, heating the thermal mass tanks, etc.


Purple spent another day drawing up a diagram of the system and gave us a one-hour “How To Use Your System 101” class where both Bruce & I took down copious notes.   The diagram looks like this.   It’s complicated!   So complicated that I’ll leave the ‘how it works’   for another post  – it’ll be a good review for me!


So the day of reckoning was now before us.  Six months of installing a system that Pete had never quite done of this magnitude and of which all the design details were firmly entrenched in his head.    The external water tank now filled, the hot water cylinder now filled, the stove hooked up;  it was time to test the system.

Firstly, with the new placement of the external water tank and new interior plumbing, the water pressure in the house is phenomenally better.   The shower is actually pleasant with good flow and the toilet cistern fills up about four times as fast as it used to.

Secondly,  the hot water comes out of the taps HOT!  Imagine that.   It used to be that you’d turn on the hot water tap and have to wait 20-30 seconds for the hot water to flow through the pipes and to the tap.  Now within seconds, we get VERY hot water.

Thirdly and most importantly, we flicked on the controls to turn on the radiators and within five minutes the radiators were humming along with heat emanating from them.  Oh my gosh, we may just have a warm house this winter!

So I’m a pretty happy gal.   Close to $40,000 later (almost double what we budgeted), we now have our heating system 95% installed.  We won’t fill and test the thermal mass tanks (four additional water tanks) until we finish putting up some cross bracings in the attic and in the kitchen wall.  We hope to get back to this in autumn.   In the meantime, we have our Gourmet cooker stove ready and at our fingertips, waiting for a cold day so we can fire it up.   We have plenty of hot water.  We have heat to all the bedrooms.

But wait, there’s more!

We finally got the washing machine installed and, after three years, I can now do laundry in Wainui.   No more carting bags of dirty sheets/towels/clothes to Christchurch!

And, and, we now have internet plugs in every bedroom in addition to what we already had in the living room!  Purple finished wiring up all the plugs and I can now sit in bed with my laptop and surf the world wide web at my leisure (why we don’t have wireless access is another story that you can ask Bruce about).

My life just got made infinitely better by these small steps forward.  Merry Christmas to me and thank you to Pete, Kat, and Purple for all the hard work they’ve done over the last year!