We have had a mild winter this year. When living in a camper that is the best kind of winter to have. Plus is does make it a little easier to get out and work on the Upcycled home.
Side Entry Doors Installed
Allen did a great job painting the entry doors. They are painted with a hammered copper spay paint that we got at Walmart. The doors themselves came from Ozark Salvage in Koshkonong, MO. We paid $139.00 for each door. Ozark Salvage is a great place to get new building materials at great prices. As long as you don't mind looking through everything and don't have your heart set on a certain kind of product. They are a place that sells second hand products or products that were damaged. We bought all of our doors through them.
Roof Vents Installed
For January and February we are focused on doing projects in the Upcycled home that has nothing to do with moisture. Now that we are fully enclosed with the doors on. Our moisture levels went through the roof.
Why did our moisture levels get so high? When building a Earthship style house you are constantly putting in moisture into almost everything. All of the walls are built with earthen cement and mud plaster, we have applied papercrete to the outside walls on the inside, there is moisture in the dirt that we sift and store in the earthship. This all takes a while for things to dry out. Even when you physically feel the wall that you built and it feels dry to the touch and is hard does not mean it is totally dried out. We have been told from other earthship homeowners that it can take 1 to 2 years to fully dry everything out in the earthship. We didn't realize how true that is.
There are a few things that can get ride of moisture. A dehumidifier can. Being on solar power and with the size of the home we didn't feel this was an option. A Dehumidifier can use up a lot of juice to run.
Installing some kind of wood stove will remove the humidity in the home. We have plans on installing a Rocket Mass Heater this year. We are currently getting the floor ready for the RMS and have already bought the firebrick for it.
We have a different kind of roof system than what Earthship uses and because of this we needed to put vents in. This has helped bring down the moisture since we do not have a ceiling in yet. We didn't want to put vents through the roof. The less going through the roof the better. The photo above will help with moving air within the greenhouse roofing system.
We have installed large vents on both the east and west sides of the earthship. This will give the Upcycled home cross ventilation between the rafters. Since we used flooring trusses for our roof there are gaps within the rafters that will allow air movement above the insulation.
These are vents install in the back of the Upcycled home. These vents are placed in-between the rafters and will give air flow up to the green house roof.
When we installed our roof we did put in a ridge vent so the attic area would have ventilation. This is the second home that we have built our first home we had that mesh at the peak for air flow. Down the road we had to install two other vents because just that mesh was not enough. This is why we made sure this time that we were going to have enough of a air flow within our attic.
Greenhouse Exhaust Fan Installed
Earthship Biotecture developed by Michael Reynolds to our knowledge does not install greenhouse exhaust fans. When we had a facebook page the main concern about building an earthship is the humidity issue. All earthship owners were constantly discussing the need for ventilation and getting out the humidity within the greenhouse. When I had mentioned putting in a exhaust fan. There wasn't a lot of excitement for it. I don't know why. It would help vent out moisture, help with air flow, and remove excess heat during the summer time.
We bought this exhaust fan from Sam's Club Online. We paid $158.00 for it. This was worth getting the Sam's Club Membership because we saved $100.00 on this fan compared to other places.
Allen connected this fan to a switch. To use this fan all we need to do is open the skylight and flip the switch. The switch on the left if for the exhaust fan the other is a 3 way for our green house lights. This exhaust fan did not come with a switch. Allen used some innovation skills to make it work on a switch.
This fan is powered by it's own solar panel. It is another item that does not draw power from the solar system. The little square panel at the peak of the roof is the solar panel for the exhaust fan.
So far we are very please with this fan. It is very quite. Even in full sun when it is running at higher speeds it is relatively quite. This should vent out a 1500 square foot area. Our greenhouse is not 1500 square feet so some of the earthship will get vented out also. Even on cloudy days it will operate at slower speeds.
With the vents and the exhaust fan in place the humidity levels are coming down. After the rocket mass heater is built we can fire it up when the temps are cooler to help dry things out in the earthship. This we feel is important to have. You have to have some way of venting or drying out the moisture that you put into your home when you are building a earthship kind of home. Mold and mildew is not a good thing to have in a home.
More of the Flooring is Getting Completed
We are alway's working on the floors. Arron is our Sifter Expert at the moment. Every time we sift dirt from onsite we get loads of rock. So we put them into the floors right away. At times it can be a bit awkward walking on different sizes of rock but it is only temporary. It made no sense dumping huge piles of rock outside when we knew we would be bringing them in again for the floor. This is Upcycled Home is labor intensive as it is.
We start with bigger size rock that are between 3 to 5 inches thick depending how low the floor is. Then we add medium size rock that is between 1/2 to 2 inches or so. This size rock fills in a lot of the gaps between the larger size rock. The photo above is our bathroom with the medium size rock in place. It is much easier to walk on this size of rock.
This is the shower floor that already has the large, medium and small rock laid down with a layer of sifted dirt on top of it. The sifted dirt has been leveled. Next Allen will add more sifted dirt to certain areas so the water will move towards the drain. We will install a cement board over this and then put down a layer of tile that we got from Habitat for Humanity Restores.
Allen is currently working on the hot and cold water system. He is also working on running the gas lines and connecting them to the on demand hot water heater. Arron continues to sift dirt and Mary places the buckets of rock in place for the floors. We will be focusing on the west and east sunroom and living room for the floors.
We have been doing a lot of researching on windows. The doubled pane reclaimed glass that we used are now leaking. They will need to be replaced. We have learned that windows with Low E coatings on them will reflect the heat back outside. When you are building a passive solar home that needs that heat it isn't a good thing to have Low E coatings on your windows. We believe that the reclaimed glass has a Low E coating on them.
How do we know? We have had some 70 degree temps this winter. Which is awesome to have. The only problem the earthship did not heat up. It was cold in the earthship. Even though we have had some single digit temps this winter and the earthship did stay at 40 degrees, we now believe this was from the dirt around the earthship preventing the cold from coming into the earthship. Not from thermal mass.
Thank's For Visiting Us
Mary Severin writes about her families embarkment on a learning adventure to build an Upcycled Home using Earthship Principals. To find out what these Principals are click on the Earthship Principals link above.