alternative route for hot air
Wednesday, January 25 2012
For the past few days the weather has been unseasonably warm, with peak temperatures reaching well into the 40s (and occasionally hitting the 50s), so I've generally been burning the woodstove with the air intake set to minimum. This morning when I went to clean out some of the ashes, I discovered that I'd set up the perfect low-oxygen environment for the manufacture of charcoal. The ash was about 20% lumps of charcoal, some of which was still glowing, though much of had stopped burning. I consolidated the larger pieces of charcoal into a pile in one corner to give me room to clean out ashes, and after awhile the pile was glowing orange and radiating an enormous amount of heat.
Our latest cat Nigel has always been a problem cat. He doesn't get along with Julius (aka "Stipey) (though he does get along with all the other cats and dogs), and he has a tendency to use boxes full of paper or piles of fabric as urinals. In the summer, when he spends most of his time outdoors, it's easy to forget this about him. But in the winter there eventually comes the day when one of us (usually me) notices that the basement or the box of scrap cardboard near the woodstove has taken on the fragrance of cat urine. Most recently, I discovered that Nigel had been pissing on a rolled-up Turkish rug in a rarely-visited closet under the stairs off of Gretchen's basement library. Nigel's incorrigibility caused Gretchen to make a radical decision. Henceforth he would be imprisoned in the upstairs master bedroom suite. There he would have two litter boxes and a place to eat. Both Gretchen and I have baskets full of socks in our bedroom and we hoped he wouldn't use these for a urinal. But it all worked out well; Nigel cuddled with us at night and showed little interest in escaping during the day. He also managed to refrain from pissing into our socks.
The only problem with our new Nigel arrangement came from the fact that the bedroom door was now kept closed, serving in its new role as a prison cell door. Now air heated by the woodstove rising up the stairs could no longer take a detour into the master bedroom suite. Any heat conducting through the walls was not enough to replace heat being lost through the windows and ceiling.
So today I undertook a project designed to provide a new path for woodstove-heated air to reach our upstairs master bedroom suite. I mapped out the relatively small area of overlap between the bedroom and living room, made some marks, and then asked Gretchen's permission. At first she had the idea that we should go to an antique store and get properly-sized grills first (she's been burned too many times by me building ducts and then just leaving gaping holes at either end), but I was pretty sure this time that a grill would interfere with another possible function of the project. I had the idea of making a square window with a hinged drawbridge-style door that could serve as a place for cats to hang out high above the living room whenever it was in the down position. The cat balcony idea appealed to Gretchen more than I expected, so in the end she agreed to let me cut a hole in the wall, which I proceeded to do.
I started with a small test hole, which was a really good idea. Despite what I'd thought were careful measurements, the position on the living room wall was off by about sixteen inches from where I'd thought it would show up on the bedroom wall. The hole I ended up creating measured about 14.5 inches by 14.5 inches, that is, the largest square possible between studs on sixteen inch centers.
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