2018-01-03 -

The Renovation Chronicles - Cont.

When we first walked into the house in Kingston in October, we discovered that the house did not have a functioning boiler or any oil. That was OK in October, but was not OK in November and December.

I remembered my father’s lesson about redundancy, that all systems must have duplication in order to cope with failure.

It was at that point that I remembered another lesson taught to me by Dennis Lebel, a former student. He had installed a plenum over the woodstove that we once had here in Lewiston.

So I designed a plenum much like the one Dennis had installed and had a heating duct extended to the front part of the house. Given the open staircase, heat could travel up the plenum, through the heat duct, and then up the open staircase – to return as cooler air to the wood stove. The real secret to this design was in keeping the bottom edges of the plenum to within 10 inches of the floor. This in turn created a jetting effect which drove the hot air forward.  The contractor Jay Marr saw the design and got it all installed, including a thermostatically controlled fan to help.

And it worked.  The “little devil“ as we refer to the wood stove, was able to heat the front part of the house and most of the upstairs.  We must always remember that "heat rises."

This redundant system makes the whole house safer in the event of a power outage or a problem with the regular boiler system.

Some lessons are truly valuable.