except using the leak itself
Sunday, March 1 2009
While it was cold today, it had been warm a few days ago, with highs in the low sixties as recently as Friday the 27th. I'd been monitoring with interest the effect of the resulting snow melt on the water table, which is now visible in the greenhouse well. Interestingly, the water started rising in the well only yesterday, after temperatures had already started dialing-back to seasonably cold conditions. By late this morning, the water had risen to within inches of the top of the well. By this evening it had flooded the floor to the level of the drainage pipe (which prevents worse floods).
Throughout the day Gretchen prepared an elaborate meal centered around risotto and portobello mushrooms, the later of which tasted almost exactly like juicy pieces of beef steak. I had a sample during one of several episodes of low blood sugar as I worked tirelessly on Gretchen's basement library's hydronic loop and, for that moment, was the most delicious thing I had ever put in my mouth. Later Chris and Kirsty, our photogenic vegan Buddhist friends from Woodstock, came over to partake of the meal. I also gave a tour of the greenhouse despite the fact that it was dark outside. Chris and Kirsty are building a whole compound of buildings off Zena road, and though it is a much bigger project than mine, it has given Chris and me a good portfolio of subject to talk about: drainage, thermal masses, passive solar, roof technologies, bluestone and other site geology, and the things that can happen when concrete is poured in the autumn.
After much cutting and soldering of pipe (mostly within cramped inter-joist ceiling bays), the house had miraculously avoided catching on fire and I the hydronic loop was complete. It was time to test it. I'd pressurized part of the system with air last night, a test which had been inconclusive. Tonight though, with the system finally complete after all that work, I was impatient, so I just said fuck it and began pressurizing the loop with hydronic fluid. And of course there was a leak, though mercifully it happened to be in one of the most accessible parts of the loop. Unfortunately, though, this section was low in the loop and impossible to drain except using the leak itself. So I pressurized the pipe with air to 90 psi and waited for the pipe to drain. This took at least a half hour. At this point the leak was easy to fix and the system proved sound, which came as a great relief. A few of the soldered joints had been pre-assembled and hooked through holes in drywall at the end of long pipes, and I'd been dreading the possibility of one of those inaccessible joints failing.
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