Why Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating is a Breath of Fresh Air (Part II)

How Wood Fires and Ducted Heating Could be Bad for your Health

When building an allergy-free, eco-friendly home, cost can be a huge consideration; however, so can health, especially when good health has been missing from your life for the good part of a decade and a half. In my last post I discussed how using hydronic heating is the only sure way to have a dust-free home. A dust-free home can be a mould-free home (providing you don’t allow for water damage!). Before I show the installation of the Build an Eco-friendly, Allergy-free House project’s hydronic heating ‘fit out’, by Hydrotherm, let’s look at some of the most unsuitable heating systems for people with respiratory illness, asthma, CIRS (also known as mould illness) and illness related to chemical sensitivity:

How can Wood-smoke Fires Still be Popular?

Woodsmoke, I’ve written about it before, but unless someone has an illness like myself and many other readers here, some ‘other’ (not caring about our Earth!) type of people still find wood-fires romantic, tribal or ambient or… burn-old-furniture type of cheap. Not only does storing the wood create a haven for dust and mould but you’re likely to get PM2.5 particles in your house dust after each burn… and your lungs. Plus what you dump into your neighbours’ lungs. Let’s hope they don’t have asthma or chemical sensitivity, CIRS, or respiratory illness! Especially the children.

More on wood-smoke from Australian Air Quality Group:

‘There are no safe PM2.5 Levels’.

PM2.5 are a pollutant with no safe level, that (in Europe) cause 20 times as many premature deaths as the next worst pollutant (ozone). The sensible strategy would be to spend substantially more resources reducing PM2.5 than other pollutants.

Sadly, the approach in “Action for Air” is based on politics, not logic.  For example, a single new woodheater installed in Sydney has estimated health costs of $4,000 per year.  Although this is only half the costs of an existing woodheater (see right column), it is hard to understand why anyone who knows and understand the true health costs, or the amount of pollution emitted by a new woodheater, would want to use one.”

So while some people are practing ignorance, or romance (or both), and the Australian Government are ignoring health statistics, others, like us are practising how to seal our houses up from woodsmoke sneaking in: through door cracks, loose windows, exhaust flues in kitchens and bathrooms and even cracks in the floorboards—we’re running around with painters’ masking tape and cotton wool trying to seal up the cracks in our (Environmental Pollution Authority) EPA’s system. Running air purifiers. Wearing masks. In our own homes. Anything to avoid symptoms bought on by inhaling woodsmoke night after cold, painful night.

Not much longer I tell myself. Drooling over Hydrotherm images of the heating panels on Instagram, lol.

Now, think, if everyone had hydronic systems connected to gas, electric or solar? The air quality could be far better. If the Australian government bought in kickbacks for replacing wood-fire heating systems for hydronic systems, it would show they care about the environment and the true cost of health! “4 k a year in health costs from wood fire heating!” Seriously?

Green Building

(image source: pixabay)

Why ducted heating systems can be bad for People with Respiratory Illness, MCS, Lung Disease and CIRS patients

Other heating I instinctively stayed away from were the ducted versions. Even before I was sick they felt dry and, in many rentals, just blew dust around until the air felt parched, devoid of oxygen, dust, caked into my eyes and nostrils.

One rental, I had to move out after dust and fragrance (and possibly mould) were stirred up by having the ducted heating system professionally cleaned.

And, as it happens: ducted heating systems will spread mould around your house if you have an area that’s water damaged and growing mould. They are notorious for it.

If your house is relatively new and mould free, a ducted heating system is an expensive yet adequate heater if kept clean and turned off at the slightest water leak or need for damage control if mould is found.

For a ducted system not to spread mould, you’d need to know about the leak as, or just after, it happens, dry it within 24-48 hours, and! turn all fans, ducted heating systems, HVACs and exhaust fans off until the mould is taken care of. Again: If this doesn’t happen the ducted heating just spreads it throughout the whole house.

Fact: A ducted heating system uses 3 times the gas than a hydronic system.

Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating is like a breath of fresh air because they don’t pollute the indoor airspace. They allow for a pristine environment, free from allergens such as dust and mould.

Hydrotherm Part I: Radiant Heat Fights Allergies with Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating

Hydrotherm Part II: Why Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating is a Breath of Fresh Air

Hydrotherm Part III: Hydrotherm Hydronic heating for our Eco-friendly, Allergy Free House

Hydrotherm Contact Details

Hydrotherm: Hydronic Heating

Greenheat: Hydronic Heating

Hydrotherm Instagram

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

How Proclima, and Laros Fixed Our Slab/Frame Overhang

The Slab Overhang Issue

How did this happen? Is slab overhang a common happening? How do you avoid a mess like this? Well, the Surveyor, contracted out by the builders, came out twice (over a six month period) to measure up, placing painted sticks and ties about the property for both house designs. We can’t work out what happened exactly. Except maybe…

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Take your own measurements, folks

…the kangaroos jumped the fence and moved both sets of sticks about. Yep! The first lot were left in; and the new ones were added to mark out the slab boundary.

The other thing could be that we downsized the house therefore confused our measurements. We’ve still not gotten to the bottom of it all but it really doesn’t matter now. The way the situation was handled by our carpentry team who alerted us and by our concreting team, who found the right people for the job, it’s such a small issue in retrospect!

If you accidentally design a McMansion and decide to downsize, beware!

Oh the #kangaroos this morning made my #heart sing I know why I live where I do. #grateful #wildlife #vegan #loveanimals

A photo posted by Michellina (@michellinaoutofthelabyrinth) on

Because of this mishap, the slab (due to the pegs and measurements) was made to the incorrect dimensions—the frame on the south side, the cold side of the house, was too short by 40 ml, and another 40 ml in two other places on the northern side, leaving our custom-built, excellent Calco hardwood frame hanging over—not precariously so but, according to engineering good practice: It wasn’t safe to build a second story on.

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And to answer the question: How common is this? People in the industry told us this happens a lot. Many builders don’t go to the trouble that we all went to. Life has been very stressful for him lately. He has to do so much. I can’t get government help for Oxygen or CIRS medications (some of them, but most, no!), testing cost a bomb. I’ve got my uni and my plans for a career from home but I don’t feel the disabled are given a fair go. Unless a fair go is just laying in bed getting sicker by the year!

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This piece was expertly sliced off by a concrete cutter

Plus, another section on the north side (the sunny, warmer side, which is our passive heating side during Melbourne winters!) and the western side (the hot side where the sun sets) were too big by 40 ml, which meant the concrete had to be wet cut with an electric saw by a concrete cutter.

These are the drawings our engineer drew so that we could get a clear picture of the solution to the slab overhang:

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Basically, we had a steel beam bolted onto the 3 edges of the slab to support the frame. However, right away from a building biology standpoint, it bothered me to think that some builders and owner-builders would construct a building straight over this  because of the condensation issue that most likely would develop: basic building-biology science says that if you have metal that’s cold on the outside while warm on the inside (as most houses are in cooler weather) then condensation will occur… then mould! could follow.

Being concerned about the health of the building envelope, condensation for the above reasons and, for a mould sensitive person with CIRS, this is a nightmare of a mistake to make.

In my brain fog, attached to oxygen, I contacted Thomas at ProClima in New Zealand (whom I found out about from Building Biologist, Rapheal at EcoLibria at Torquay, who I found out about from Lucinda at Eco Health Solutions). Thomas then put me onto Andreas at Laros Technologies, here in Australia.

Thankfully, Andreas understood my concerns! I have CIRS

The irony of writing a book on how to Build and Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free House that is mould free and having to deal with these issues aren’t lost on me. As far as my book and blog go, this is a fantastic event to document because, thanks to ProClima and Laros, we fixed the issue. (I have a whole chapter on mould and happenings that can and did! go wrong and how we overcame these issues.) Dan and I inserted this thermal break ourselves. Now, 12 months later, my thumb still hurts from holding the beam while Dan wedged that low voc, non-toxic ‘thermal break’, between the slab and the metal beam.

Other ProClima products we plan on using:

Intello Internal Airtight Wrap (post coming up on that)

And, hopefully having our house and cottage roof windows’ supplies (flashing and tapes) supplied by them. I’m trying to book Kale in from KLM plumbing to do the job. He’s the perfect plumber: on time; does what he says he will. We’ll be sure to get good instructions for our plumber from Andreas [check] at Laros!

An Energy Efficiency Weakspot

From an energy efficiency point of view: this would be a weak spot that would suck out heat from the building during winter. So although the solution from our engineer was a clever one that saved our house and budget, it didn’t take into account that, Melbourne, being a colder climate, that has such *lovely cold weather, which would keep the piece of steel cold on the outside and warm on the inside each time the house was heated: this would cause condensation given those conditions, which is a great way to end up with mould!

The solution was to create a thermal break along the piece of steal. This would be a guarantee against condensation because there wouldn’t have any heat conductivity of the steel leading to it in the first place!

The galvanised steal beam which is called a ‘RHS’ (Rectangular hollow section) bolted to the slab edge. The RHS had the dimensions of 150 X 50 mm; and was placed On the 3 sections under the overhang of the hardwood frame&msash;Southside and Northside.

Again, the slab was too big by 25 ml: the whole west side length of the house, jutting out with no purpose but to leach heat out of the house by poking out into the cold like that.

The slab jutting out by 25 ml along the length of the westside, a potential heat leak in a passively heated house.

The slab jutting out by 25 ml along the length of the westside, a potential heat leak in a passively heated house. We had this saw off by (update coming)

So then the builders and Dan found a concrete cutting mob to came out to the build. Whew! They bought with them a special saw and expertly cut the excess slab of by 25 ml, exactly!

Our frame was then nailed and glue together by Pristine Carpentry the ones who rang us alerting us to the fact that the house frame was too too big for the slab. When you take into consideration all the bricks, tin and metal that need to make up the house, that’s still only 40 ml hanging precariously over the edge of the slab. Earthquake anyone? Hyperbolic catastrophes aside:

The problem was: because of the steals temperature conductivity, it was a potential, most definite with time. Mould problem caused by condensation, which would have rose up the wall.

We could have used a hairdryer to meld the shape of the material to the beam but, we realised the pressure of the house would do this.

It was a hard lesson.

Note: It’s best to check yourself.

But it’s all taken care of one thanks to Laros and ProClima: sell truly environmentally-friendly and people-friendly products made for New Zealand weather.

Our solution to slab overhang came from Laros.

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People and Places where we Received Assistance in Relation to Building Biology for People with MCS and Mould Illness (CIRS)

 

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

EHS News: A Cell Phone Destroyed My Nervous System and Health

Today, YouTuber, Leesa aka: Aussie Vegan Gardening Yogi, tells us about her experiences with Electro-hypersensitivity (EHS). She also shares some insights into the condition, her treatment by the Australian medical profession so far; and some of the research, diet tips and practices that have helped her. You can find an excellent source of links to research, architects and support groups at the bottom of her clip (on her channel over on YouTube). Thank you for sharing your story, Leesa xx

(Following this video is another YouTube clip where the much esteemed, Dr Willliam Rea, MD from the Environmental Health Centre ~ Dallas,  gives this talk titled ‘Triggering Agents of Electromagnetic Sensitivity’)


Triggering Agents of Electromagnetic Sensitivity

“… a presentation and Q&A by Dr. William Rea, M.D.. Dr. Rea presented his compelling evidence and recommendations for a healthier world at Creating Safe Havens in a Toxic, Electromagnetic World, a conference hosted by the International Institute for Building-Biology & Ecology.”

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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