Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category

Continuing to Work with PG&E

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Nothing is easy.  We thought we were there with PG&E and, surprise, we’re not there yet.

We did start to move the control system for our sliding glass doors at the back of the house into the permanent location in the East Storage room.

Yes, it poured rain, starting at ~3:00 am for a couple hours.  Our site handled the rain just fine.

Moving the Door Control System into East Storage Room

When the control system for the three sliding glass doors at the back of the house was set up, we were not ready to mount the control system in its permanent location, which is in the East Storage room.  Now, it is time to do so.

The control system, made by Doors in Motion, requires a dedicated 15 amp circuit and has four wires going from the DC electric motor to the control system, including the switch.  The four wires, which have multiple conductors, are for the power (the transformer to DC and backup battery are housed in the control system), the door switch (open, close, stop, lock, reset), the motion detector, and the encoder unit itself.

We decided to run the wires in a dedicated conduit containing only low-voltage wires.  The conduit is the flexible, orange corregated one-inch conduit by Carlon.  We’ve been obtaining our low voltage products from ADI in Santa Clara.  Hank Malloy and Jordan have been extremely helpful in sourcing the correct products for us.

The conduit included the four wires for the door and the CAT5e wires for the lighting control system (C-bus).  The lighting control system includes a pink CAT5e and a yellow CAT5e.  The pink wire is for the main system and the yellow wire is for a backup (redundant).  All other data CAT6, with a spline, will be blue.

When connecting the wires to the door control system, we found a problem.  Jason Cruz, who installed the door control system, helped Bryan to isolate the problem.  They didn’t solve the problem yet and should complete it tomorrow.

Installing Our Permanent Electric Meter

Although the two-person crew from PG&E installed our permanent electric meter on Monday, October 3, they didn’t have the correct meter for a 400 amp service.  Knowing that the meter would be changed again to a bi-directional meter for our solar photovoltaic generation system, they put in a 200 amp meter.  However, PG&E’s process and internal systems still show our temporary service in place as the correct meter had not been installed.

Thus, PG&E dispatched a meter technician to our job site to install the permanent meter for our 400 amp service.  The meter technician, AJ, smiled as he installed the correct meter saying, ‘I’ll be back in a couple days to install the bi-directional meter that will measure your generation and your electric vehicle consumption.’

We’re just following the process …

Motor for our sliding glass pocket doors at the back of the house. We need to have the wires to connect the control system to the motor in a dedicated conduit.

 

The path for the flexible conduit will go through the Dining Room, into the soffit and through to the East Storage room.

 

The one-inch orange conduit will join the two-inch 'smurf' tubes in the soffit going to the East Mechanical room.

 

 

The door control system will be located permanently in the wall to the left of the three lighting control system panels.

 

We're taking the opportunity to install the 1-1/2 inch polyisocyanate insulation against the concrete throughout the lower level (basement). We removed this insulation from the roof and stored it so we could use it again. This insulation will be covered with spray foam, encapsulating it. Note there is two inches of rigid foam insulation outside the concrete wall.

 

The meter technician from PG&E, AJ, installs the correct Smart Meter for our 400 amp service. This meter replaced the 200 amp meter that was installed on Monday. The next meter that will be installed is the bi-directional smart meter for our solar photovoltaic generation and time-of-use electric vehicle (E-9) rate service.

 

 

Reviewing Progress on Our Red Front Door

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

It was a full day today.

Al continued working on the roof, trying to stay in front of the forecasted rains for tomorrow (100% probability).  Bryan met with the City of Monte Sereno to review our preliminary lighting control plans, John Rider dropped by to see how the project is developing, Bryan and John met with Nathan Merrill to review the progress on our red front door, and Shane Lothrop provided instructions on how we could make an opening in one of our shear walls.

And our daughter, Kate, was on the winning team for her first AA baseball game with Los Gatos Little League (Kate plays hardball).

Reviewing Progress on Our Red Front Door

During John Rider’s quick walk-through of our project, Nathan Merrill called Bryan and asked if he could move the scheduled time of 2:00 pm forward to noon for Bryan to to review the progress Nathan was making on our red front door.  With John having to go back to his office, it was perfect!  John followed Bryan in his truck to Nathan’s shop on Dell Avenue.

John Rider has worked on our project since July 2008.  John is a LEED-accredited professional and is now accredited under the LEED for Homes program.  John dropped by to say that he wants to complete the preliminary rating review on our project and finalize the plans so we can proceed.  Darrel Kelly, our Green-rater under the LEED for homes program has been encouraging us to schedule another integrated project meeting to complete our preliminary rating.  John is with Jrider + Design.

Bryan introduced John to Nathan Merrill, of American Ornamental Iron and then Nathan took us into his shop.  Nathan had our door hanging from his shop forklift, so he could work on it. 

Nathan explained that he is planning to have the door powder coated and asked Bryan to sign off on the colors for the frame and the door.  Nathan has the original red front door in his shop and will take it to the powder coating firm so they can match the color.

John was impressed with the Valli & Valli hardware and Nathan showed John the details where he will not only be meeting the specifications and finish by Valli & Valli but exceeding them.  For example, Nathan is ensuring that all the edges of the door have the same rounding radius (.0625 inch) and that the stainless steel recessed machine bolts are brushed as per the Valli & Valli finish.  Detail is key …

Making an Opening in Our Shear Wall

The recent earthquake and resulting tsumani in Japan shocked us and underscored the importance of exceeding the local seismic requirements.  Since our objective is to live in this house for the next 15 years, we don’t want to meet code requirements – we must exceed those requirements.  We believe strongly that the San Francisco Bay Area will experience a 7.5 or greater earthquake in the next 15 years.

For our lighting control panels, Bryan reviewed locations in the house and then met with our Building Official at the City of Monte Sereno, Howard Bell, this morning to discuss our proposed locations.  Howard reviewed the alternatives with Bryan and recommended that we make an opening in our shear wall in the upper laundry room to do so.  If we go with that location then Howard requires us to review the opening with our Structural Engineer of Record, Shane Lothrop of Innovative Structural Engineering.

Shane reviewed the proposed location and then sent Bryan written instructions on where and how to make the opening.  Those instructions included requirements on the opening so it will maintain the structural integrity of the shear wall.

John Rider (right) and Nathan Merrill discuss our red front door (hanging from the forks of the forklift).

Nathan Merrill (left) and John Rider discuss our red front door (hanging from the forks of the forklift).

The door, including sidelights.  Nathan is fabricating the components around the door.  Note that the piece at the bottom of the door is a brace that will be removed before it is installed.

The door, including sidelights. Nathan is fabricating the components around the door. Note that the piece at the bottom of the door is a brace that will be removed before it is installed.

The door opens in, using four Soss hinges (invisible hinges).  Nathan explained that the door will need some cycles to get the hinges working smoothly (the door weighs 246 lbs).

The door opens in, using four Soss hinges (invisible hinges). Nathan explained that the door will need some cycles to get the hinges working smoothly (the door weighs 246 lbs).

Close up of the Valli & Valli hardware exterior hardware.

Close up of the Valli & Valli hardware exterior hardware.

Close up of the electrified mortise lockset.  The Valli & Valli logo on the inside door handle can be seen, just barely.

Close up of the electrified mortise lockset. The Valli & Valli logo on the inside door handle can be seen, just barely. Nathan's logo and the serial number will be on the top of the door.

Jig for making the wine racks.  There is a left and right jig as we will require 76 of the individual supports to be manufactured.

Jig for making the wine racks. There is a left and right jig as we will require 76 of the individual supports to be manufactured.

The other half of the jig.

The other half of the jig.

The first of some 24 vertical pieces in each of the three wine racks (left, center and right).

The first of some 24 vertical pieces in each of the three wine racks (left, center and right).

Alan holding the first component of the wine rack in the wine cellar.  Note the clearance at the top of the rack, by the ceiling where the radiant cooling will be installed.

Alan holding the first component of the wine rack in the wine cellar. Note the clearance at the top of the rack, by the ceiling where the radiant cooling will be installed.

Shear wall by Upper Laundry Room.  The framed area to the left is for one of three art niches; the stud bay to the right is where we would like the opening in the shear wall.

Shear wall by Upper Laundry Room. The framed area to the left is for one of three art niches; the stud bay to the right is where we would like the opening in the shear wall.

Shear wall from Upper Laundry Room, showing where we would like the opening for the lighting control system.

Shear wall from Upper Laundry Room, showing where we would like the opening for the lighting control system.

The electric cables for the lights in the ceiling will be run up these posts.  We will drill through each post to bring the electricity to the exterior fixtures that will light the underside of the upper flat roof.

The electric cables for the lights in the ceiling will be run up these posts. We will drill through each post to bring the electricity to the exterior fixtures that will light the underside of the upper flat roof.

In order to bring the electric circuits from the West side to the East side, we will have to drill eight holes through this beam.

In order to bring the electric circuits from the West side to the East side, we will have to drill eight holes through this beam.

 

Our daughter, Kate Mekechuk, in her first AA game catching in the second inning.  The Manager and coaching staff are by the fence, with photographers behind them.

Our daughter, Kate Mekechuk, in her first AA game catching in the second inning. The Manager and coaching staff are by the fence, with a photographer behind them.

Mocking Up Our Zinc Fascia

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

We mocked up our zinc fascia today.  And put three yellow cedar shakes on.  It is cool.  Way cool.

After we finalize the design, the installation crew from Wildcat Metals will arrive on our job site on Thursday morning so they can work through and finish putting the zinc facia on the gables by Tuesday, December 21.  The natural zinc material is from Rheinzink and the yellow cedar shakes are from BCF Shake Mill in Shanty Bay, Canada.

Time in 2010 is dwindling quickly – we leave for Edmonton early on December 22.

Designing the Cooling Panel System in Our Wine Cellar

Our home will be heated using geothermal heat exchange.  As a byproduct of making hot water, we will make cold water.  That cold water will be put back into the ground.  Instead of putting the cold water back into the ground and making our overall geothermal system less efficient, we will use the cold water to chill our wine in the Wine Cellar.  How cool is that?

Way cool …

While a great idea, using the waste cold water to keep our Wine Cellar cool requires an immense amount of design work.  Fortunately, we have an outstanding design team!  Markus Benzenhofer, from Twa Panel Systems, and Ken Martin, from Silicon Valley Mechanical are world class professionals, and know how to move BTUs from room-to-room, and from the exterior of a structure to inside that same structure.  And, of course, visa versa. 

Bryan met with Markus today to specify the cooling panels for the ceiling of the Wine Cellar.  As well, there are other aspects of the design that they reviewed, including how to move the chilled water to and from the West Mechanical room.

They took detailed measurements so Markus could calculate how many BTUs could be ‘dumped’ into the Wine Cellar and how those BTUs could be controlled by the system that Ken Martin is designing.

The mechanics of moving the waste cold water to the Wine Cellar is important as the structural elements of the Wine Cellar must be designed to work effectively.  The order of construction must be determined as well as the structural strength required by racks that hold the wine bottles.

If the capacity of the Wine Cellar is 2,900 750-ml bottles and each bottle weighs 1.0 kilo then the total weight of each of the three racks (when full) will be more than 2,000 lbs.  When we experience an earthquake of, say, 8.8, we don’t want the wine rack to collapse.  575 gallons of wine would make a huge mess.  The wine racks must be strong.  We don’t want to cry over spilled wine (but we would).

During the discussion, Markus raised a very important point.  We should consider having some ‘fast’ heating in the Wine Dining as anyone in there needs to be comfortable in order to enjoy the wine.  We will consider and evaluate using electrically operated radiant in the floor where people will be seated.  This is important, especially for Jo-Anne’s comfort (Bryan can suffer cold feet, Jo-Anne cannot).

The first piece of natural zinc is fastened to the gable rake fascia over the Garage.  It looks great!

The first piece of natural zinc (from Rheinzink) is fastened to the gable rake fascia over the Garage. It looks great!

Bryan took three shakes and used a 1-inch overhang to see what the shakes would look like.  We could probably have the seam extend anothe 1/2 inch, so the flat expanse of the zinc would be reduced.

Bryan took three shakes and used a 1-inch overhang to see what the shakes would look like. We could probably have the seam extend anothe 1/2 inch, so the flat expanse of the zinc would be reduced.

We measured the zinc fascia seam on the lower flat roof and it must change.  We'd like to keep the same proportions with the gable roof rakes so the seam on the lower flat roof should be at 10-1/2 inches (not 11-1/2 inches),

We measured the zinc fascia seam on the lower flat roof and it must change. We'd like to keep the same proportions with the gable roof rakes so the seam on the lower flat roof should be at 10-1/2 inches (not 11-1/2 inches),

Working Inside the Vertical Culvert

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

It was a bit spooky but had to be done.  Bryan went down a ladder inside the 20 ft vertical culvert. 

The new temporary sump pump is now connected to our underground pipe system that enters the cistern and is pumping as required.

Let it rain, let it pour …

Continuing to Fabricate Our Red Front Door

Bryan stopped by American Ornamental Iron to see how our door was coming along.  When Bryan arrived, Nathan Merrill was, in fact, working on our door.  Nathan remarked that he expected Bryan to drop by.

Nathan had just received the four Soss hinges for the door.  These are ‘invisible’ hinges that will not be seen from inside or outside the door.  They are way cool.

The Soss hinges are stainless steel and are extremely strong.  There are four fasteners in each side of each hinge, for eight fasteners per hinge.  Nathan designed the door to have four hinges, so there are 32 fasteners in total.  Exactly what we require for our (estimated) 240 lb red front door.

Nathan thought the stainless steel fasteners that came with the hinges could be improved and showed Bryan larger, countersunk machine screws with an Allen hex head.  Nathan suggested that these fasteners would be a nice touch, if they were stainless steel.  Bryan agreed, immediately.

Next step is to order the door hardware, which will either be FSB or Valli&Valli.

Stay tuned …

Working Inside the Vertical Culvert

With the winter rains arriving with more frequency. our seasonal perched water table will start to rise, which will fill the 20 ft long vertical culvert, which is 3 ft in diameter.

We have two penetrations of our waterproofing – one for the drain from our stairwell and the other for the drain from our window well.  These drains connect under our structure and then enter the vertical culvert through one pipe.

The perimeter foundation drains and two drains in the middle of the foundation all connect into one drain that goes into the vertical culvert.

The drains under the foundation were excavated and filled in early January 2009.  It is interesting to look at the photos from that point in time.  The perimeter drains under the foundation were excavated on 01/06/09 through 01/08/09.  We covered the perimeter drains with 3/4 inch crushed rock and then completely covered the site with geotextile fabric on 01/12/09 and then spread more 3/4 inch crushed rock over the entire foundation area on 01/13/09 and 01/14/09.  This infrastructure is critical in helping move water from around our foundation into the vertical culvert.

Thus, there are two pipes that enter the vertical culvert.  The permanent solution will have two electric sumps pumping water up and into the underground system that fills our 3,677 gallon underground cistern.  When the cistern is full, the water flows through to the storm drain, all underground.

The two permanent sumps that will be located at the bottom of the vertical culvert will be 240 volts, and they will be connected to circuits that are supplied by Pacific Gas & Electric and fully backed up by our natural gas powered auxiliary backup generator.  Two sources of power and two sumps.  We will not be limited to a single point of failure.

At this point in time, we don’t have the 240 volt sumps so Bryan bought a 110 volt 50 gpm sump to use until the permanent solution is in place.  We had some flooding last year and cannot risk any flooding this year. 

In order to get everything set up and working, we need access to the bottom of the vertical culvert.  This requires putting our aluminum extension ladder into the vertical culvert.  We did so and Bryan went down the ladder.

Although it isn’t very deep, it was still kinda spooky. 

It was over the top (so to speak) for the Chilean miners that were trapped for several months.

Commissioning and Current Status

We plan to power wash the entire vertical culvert prior to the commissioning of the permanent water pumping solution and system.  For now, we are confident that the water pumping system will operate without failure and pump water such that flooding will not occur in the lower level (basement) through the window well or stair well.

Our door being laid out at American Ornamental Iron.  Note the four Soss hinges are being positioned on the door.

Our door being laid out at American Ornamental Iron. Note the four Soss hinges are being positioned on the door.

Soss invisible hinges.  These are way cool ...

Soss 'invisible' hinges. These are way cool ...

The screws on the right side show what we want and don't want.  The top screw is stainless steel with Phillips head.  The bottom screw is black steel with an Allen head.  We like the stainless with the Allen head.  Lord & Sons will have these for us in a couple days ...

The screws on the right side show what we want and don't want. Lord & Sons will have these screws for us in a couple days.

Looking down into the 20 ft vertical culvert.  There is more than 5 ft of water at the bottom of this 3 ft in diameter vertical culvert.

Looking down into the 20 ft vertical culvert. There is more than 5 ft of water at the bottom of this 3 ft in diameter vertical culvert.

From the vertical culvert, the sump sends the water into the underground cistern.  This is the inlet into the underground cistern.

From the vertical culvert, the sump sends the water into the underground cistern. This is the inlet into the underground cistern.

When our underground cistern is full, it flows out of the cistern into a pipe that takes the water to the back of the storm sewer drain on Winchester Boulevard.

When our underground cistern is full, it flows out of the cistern into a pipe that takes the water to the back of the storm sewer drain on Winchester Boulevard.

Here you can see the water flowing into the storm sewer, which than goes to into San Francisco Bay.

Here you can see the water flowing into the storm sewer, which than goes to into San Francisco Bay.

Bryan got into the 20 ft deep vertical culvert and descended to the bottom.  Here, he is looking up, way up!

Bryan got into the 20 ft deep vertical culvert and descended to the bottom. Here, he is looking up, way up!

Looking down.  The bottom of the vertical culvert will be cleaned this week.  It will probably be cleaned using a pressure washer at least once per year.

Looking down. The bottom of the vertical culvert will be cleaned this week. It will probably be cleaned using a pressure washer at least once per year.

Documenting Our Progress to Date

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

Nik and Bryan walked the job site today, taking pictures to document exactly where we are at this point in time.

Window installed in the Dining Room/Kitchen on the East side of the house.

Window installed in the Dining Room/Kitchen (East side of the house). This fixed window reduced the noise from Winchester Boulevard that can be heard inside the house.

Same window, as seen from the Kitchen.  Note that the original fence is inside our property line and will be moved out 4 ft during the landscaping phase of the project.

Same window, as seen from the Kitchen. Note that the original fence is inside our property line and will be moved out 4 ft during the landscaping phase of the project.

Our Kitchen door is Fleetwood's Pacific 3500 model.  This door will be used frequently as it is the main door to the side/back yard.

Our Kitchen door is Fleetwood's Pacific 3500 model. This door will be used frequently as it is the main door to the side/back yard.

Kitchen door lines up with the stairs, which will make it easier to carry large objects up and down the stairs.

Kitchen door lines up with the stairs, which will make it easier to carry large objects up and down the stairs.

Kates bedroom door.  Note the temporary structure over the swimming pool can be removed soon.

Kate's bedroom door is now in place. Note the temporary structure over the swimming pool can be removed soon.

West side of lower flat roof, showing the clerestory windows with cement fiber trim and insulated skylight curbs.

West side of lower flat roof, showing the clerestory windows with cement fiber trim and insulated skylight curbs.

East side of Atrium, showing fiber cement trim around clerestory windows.

East side of Atrium, showing fiber cement trim around clerestory windows. The missing downspout is currently being fabricated and will be installed with the zinc fascia.

 

Upper flat roof with mounts for photovoltaic solar panel system.

Upper flat roof with mounts for photovoltaic solar panel system.

Core Drilling Our Concrete Walls

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

We had Penhall Company out again today to core drill some important holes in our concrete walls.  In order to close our remaining open trenches, we need to bring electrical services into the East Mechanical room.  As well, we have to get our plumbing and electrical into the East Mechanical room from inside the house.

Theron Boulden, from Phil Murray Construction, was on site all day working on the 24 ft sliding glass doorway in the Living Room.  Also, Theron continued working on the sliding glass doors to the Wine Dining and Wine Cellar. We believe the sliding glass door could be installed tomorrow (Wednesday).

Al and Nep worked on tweaking the framing in various locations, in order to accomodate the core drilling and other requirements.  During the day, they ‘floated’ and helped with the core drilling (setting up the scaffolding), sliding glass doors (setting up the concrete cuts and actually cutting the concrete, and cutting recessments in the concrete walls for the Wine Cellar sliding glass doors).

Although Bryan met with Nathan Merrill, of American Ornamental Iron, he wasn’t able to order the FSB hardware for the front door.  We’re still waiting to receive two quotes on the hardware.  Bryan did, however, order the four Soss invisible hinges for the front door.

Core Drilling the Walls

We need to connect waste water drains and plumbing vents through the wall from the East Mechanical room to the soffit on the East side of the house.  Thus, we need to have a penetration through the interior concrete wall to allow the pipes to pass through. 

In addition, we need three penetrations through the exterior foundation wall in the East Mechanical room.  One of these penetrations is for a 1-1/4 inch copper water supply pipe (from San Jose Water) and the other two penetrations are for data and electrical conduits.

Bryan reviewed the plans for the electrical and conduits with his father, John Mekechuk, when Bryan was in Edmonton last week.  John, a Civil Engineer, thought the plans were acceptable in California and approved the design.

Coring through a vertical surface requires the identical technique that Bryan used when coring the shotcrete test panel (on 03/26/09).  Although we considered doing the coring ourselves, engaging Penhall Company to do the coring brings their entire suite of equipment, including all the core bit sizes.

The technician from Penhall Company arrived earlier that the scheduled 10:00 am start time and left in his truck at 5:45 pm.  He put in a good day of work.

Coring a small 1-inch hole in the concrete floor for water supply.

Coring a small 1-inch hole in the concrete floor for water supply.

Marking the hole in the East Mechanical room.

Marking the hole in the East Mechanical room.

East Mechanical room, showing rebar and condult, taken on April 4, 2009.

East Mechanical room, showing rebar and condult, taken on April 4, 2009.

Drilling the hole to support the core drilling rig.

Drilling the hole to support the core drilling rig.

Attaching the core drilling frame to the concrete wall.

Attaching the core drilling frame to the concrete wall.

Attaching the motor to the rig ...

Attaching the motor to the rig ...

Starting to core drill the first hole.

Starting to core drill the first hole.

Drilling to depth, but not through yet.

Drilling to depth, but not through yet.

Using an extension to drill through the exterior shotcrete wall (4 inches thick in this location).

Using an extension to drill through the exterior shotcrete wall (4 inches thick in this location).

Core drilling the third of three holes in this location.

Core drilling the third of three holes in this location.

Three holes cored through to the exterior.  And we didn't hit any of the conduit in the foundation wall.  Way cool ...

Three holes cored through to the exterior. And we didn't hit any electrical conduit! Way cool.

Coring through the interior concrete wall to the East Mechanical room.

Coring through the interior concrete wall to the East Mechanical room.

Completed coring through the interior concrete wall.

Completed coring through the interior concrete wall.

10-inch hole for plumbing to pass through the interior concrete wall into the East Mechanical room.  This will allow Wenger Plumbing to complete the rough in on the East side of the house.

10-inch hole for plumbing to pass through the interior concrete wall into the East Mechanical room. This will allow Wenger Plumbing to complete the rough in on the East side of the house.