Chronicling the cleanup and restoration of our house and property in northern Michigan

Chronicling the cleanup and restoration of our house and property in northern Michigan

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Heated Topic

We have been taking a serious look at our heating options at Shangri La.  We've finally come to a determination, but I'm going to take the long way around so that you can slowly warm up to the idea.  Cool?  ;)

Option 1:  We have a wood stove in the living room, and it  serves well to heat that entire floor.  However, it does not heat the basement.  Not a big deal right now, with the basement being nothing more than a cinder block surrounded hole beneath the house where we do laundry.  But, we have plans to significantly modify the use of this space.

Option 2:  We have an LP fired boiler and baseboard heat throughout the upstairs and the basement.  This would seem like a viable option, but there are several reasons that it is decidedly not.  They are: The insanely expensive cost of LP, the boiler's age and questionable maintenance history, and our profound fear of being consumed by a flaming fireball of doom and destruction.  Shocking, I know, but we're not overly enthused about this option.  

So, we've ruled out the existing boiler as an option for what we believe to be very good reasons.  The existing wood stove is newer and works very well, and it will be part of a backup heating solution during power outages.  However, we do not consider it to be our long term, full time solution.  Should we need even more fuel for the get-rid-of-the-old-boiler-now fire, the existing boiler is in the basement...that we're going to be finishing.  Waiting until we add a bunch of walls to decide to remove the boiler just doesn't make a good deal of sense.

This all leads us to...


Now that we've decided that our long term, primary heat source is not currently within our home, we embarked upon a heated path discovery.  Our search had us looking at options that included a geo-thermal heat pump, a new LP fired boiler, and an outdoor wood fired boiler.  

Ultimately, and maybe a bit surprisingly we decided on an outdoor wood fired boiler with LP backup.  We ended up here for several reasons. First, with access to 35 acres of mostly wooded property we have a readily available fuel supply.  It's a fuel supply that will be FAR less expensive than LP or electric. Second, the purchase and installation of a wood boiler will cost far less than a replacement LP boiler or forced air solution.  With the ready supply of fuel we should be looking at a return on investment of roughly three years. Compare that to our second favorite option of a geo-thermal heat pump.  The cost for going geo-thermal would be at least twice that of the wood fired boiler, and the return on investment pretty much matches the life expectancy at 15 years.

The final clincher is that we have a Central Boiler dealer less than thirty minutes from the house.  After stopping by and talking with the owner we would definitely feel good about doing business with them.  "Them" being Double L Tack, Inc. in Tower, MI.  They are a full line Central Boiler dealer.

We're looking at thClassic CL 5036.

Classic CL 5036 Wood Fired Boiler

But wait...there's more!

This will also give us heating options we wouldn't otherwise have with other solutions.  We can route lines for heating other structures.  I could heat the barns, or even Shelly's future greenhouse, all from this one boiler.  We're purchasing a boiler larger than what we need for the house's requirements just for that reason.  

Another big plus is that it can be tied into our existing hot water heater.  Can you say FREE HOT WATER?!  

If we're not already sold, how about one more BIG PLUS?  The installation is relatively simple, especially when compared to a geo-thermal installation.  We'll be handling the installation ourselves and saving some serious green. more thing.  If you're like me you're thinking, "Is it really going to be that butt-ugly brown color?"  No, it will not.  They offer various color options!

...and, no.  It won't be camo!

Stay tuned!  :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Organization? Oh, yeah...we've got that.

Finally, another trip to Shangri La.  It seems the closer we get to the move the more impatient I become for visits.  This trip was prompted by Shelly's birthday, which prompted the need for a new drivers license for her and new plates for our cars and trailers.  This close to being up there full time, we decided to move everything over to the Michigan address.  We also decided that this would be a good trip for hauling the camper up.  There's just no time for camping right now, and we have a ton of room up north for storage.

I thought about titling this installment "Blown Away!" or "Was that a cow?!"  About half way up the wind kicked in, and didn't let up for the remainder of the drive.  Towing a rolling billboard in 30 mph winds, with gusts up to 45 mph, makes for a white knuckle ride that I'd just as soon never repeat.  There were a few times that, had I not corrected, I'm pretty sure I would have lost it.  Scary stuff!  

In addition to the stop at the Secretary of State for the plates we made two other stops.  One at a Lowes in Findlay to pick up a closet organizer, and one for dinner at the Know Good bar in Atlanta.  After a drive like the one we were negotiating, the recuperative powers of  pizza and beer cannot be minimized.  Ham, pineapple and green olive pizza...mmmmm.  I don't think the waitress's tastes ran to the exotic.  She actually looked like she threw up in her mouth a little when we ordered.  :)

We had a few things we planned to tackle this trip, with the primary project being the painting of the master bedroom closet and the installation of a closet organizer.  Shelly tackled the painting, and we ganged up on the closet organizer.

Closet with the original wood shelving

Freshly painted, and organizer installed
Close up of the organizer

The wood shelving we pulled out of the closet found a new home out on the back porch.  We will eventually be finishing the porch, but for now this will give us some of the storage and organization we so badly need.

The obligatory "before" picture of the back porch, where the shelving from the closet will be going.

The old closet shelves in place on the back porch.

Some other odds and ends we managed to get done were to re-winterize the camper; replacing the not-so-good pots, pans and cutlery with the good stuff from the camper; re-securing some loose/hanging soffit that would have been letting in bugs when the weather warms; added some screen on the camper to the exterior access doors for the water heater and fridge to keep the bees/wasps from setting up shop.  

The weather wasn't overly conducive to outdoor projects, with the wind whipping for most of the weekend the same or more than what we drove through on the way up.  At one point I got a bit stir crazy, so Shelly humored me and took me out for a walk in the rain.  

Here are a few shots of the camper in her new parking spot.  She'll sit here until after the move, until probably September when we will again have time for a bit of camping.  The first shot is from Saturday, just after re-winterizing.  The second was taken on Sunday morning and ...well, this is near immediate justification for the winterizing done on Saturday.  

Thanks for visiting.  Until next time!  :)