Heating your Garage

It’s a great idea, heating your garage with a Reznor unit heater it shall do a lot of good things for your garage and items stored in it. By keeping the heat above 38° it will keep the garage foundation from heaving in the cold winter months. Also if the garage is attached to the house, the house benefits by heating the garage the common wall is now warm for the house interns saving you heat on said house wall.

Having it warmer also helps your vehicles start faster as well as better engine oil viscosity, because the engine block is starting warm.

Using a compact ceiling gas heater works great. We have installed several of these units. You can bolt them to the roof framing members and or floor joist system. You can mount them up tight or drop them down to a lower height if you have a 9’- 14’ high garage ceiling. By installing the unit at the back of the garage and blow air cross the garage to the far front corner this will get the greatest way to stabilize the temperature in the garage. This will also dry your car off and the floor. By keeping your garage temperature at or above 38° you should never have the garage floor flaking or popping of concrete from the winter weather.

This furnace also can be vented both out the wall and/or through the roof of the garage. Giving is a way to really maximize your opportunity for the best installation.

Permacast Columns

These are a great way to make a pergola or a front porc.

Low Maintenance
Permacast columns are cast from a proprietary fiber-reinforced polymer composite with exceptional strength-to-weight characteristics and requiring minimum maintenance. They are weatherproof, insect-proof and highly durable. They look best painted, and repainting when the color looks out of date.

Low Maintenance
PermaCast columns are cast from a proprietary fiber-reinforced polymer composite with exceptional strength-to-weight characteristics and requiring minimum maintenance. They are weatherproof, insect-proof and highly durable.

Capitals & Bases
Tuscan style capitals as well as the five differenttypesof ornamental capitals also follow the guidelines of Greek and Roman architects. Attic bases, copied from those of ancient Attica, are also available.

Plain & Fluted
Permacast columns are available plain or fluted in the widest variety of sizes in the industry. Deep, sharp flutes and smooth, easy to finish surfaces set Permacast apart from wood columns.

Solar Heating In Minnesota

3 types of solar collectors.
The vacuum tube type works great. It can reach temperatures above 350° and becomes a good collector. The down side of it is when the snow and/or frost lands on the vacuum tube collector the sun has to warm it up to evaporate the frost, and with heavy snow you will have to clean it off the solar panels manually. If you remember to clean the panel if not this will loss you hours of solar collecting.

2 types of Solar thermo panels

2 types of Solar thermo panels

Home made solar collectors have a couple of problems: They are not sealed and filled with inert gas (argon gas) there by missing a key way of collecting solar heat. Improper way of winding the tubing inside the panel is another problem.

Flat panels commercially made are a great way to collect heat. You can set the collectors on most any type of roofing system. They also can be joined together for a greater Btu output. The maximum output will yield you any where between 50-70% of your domestic hot water. Having extra cash to go green is great but if you need this to be your main heating unit for hot water or limited location for hot water storage, this is not the system for you at this time I’ll check these systems out every couple of years for better results.

Boilers, Furnaces and Water heaters-2

In the first photo you see a boiler system with different types of radiant heat points, with some of the controls required to operate the systems.
Below is a furnace system showing some of the components needing to be serviced.

heat loss calculation we can look at the different types of fuels vs. the costs of a geothermal system.
But before we can start we must enter some of the basics:
#1 the location of the house for the average winter low temperature.
#2 the location of the house for the average summer high temperature.
#3 what do you keep your thermostat at in the wintertime.
#4 what do you keep your thermostat for A.C. in the summer time.
#5 The Calculation is written for 67° ambient temperature.
#6 in your area how many heating degree-days are there in Mpls. there are 8000.0
Duluth 9818.0
#7 in your area how many Cooling degree-days are there in Mpls. there are 743.0
Duluth 180.0

#8 what is the efficiency of your furnace
#9 what is the Seer rating of your Air Conditioner.
Now with these parameters plugged in the numbers than tell a story
picture-157.pngIn the
There are 3 heat loss charts for 1988, 1998, 2008 the first line down is the cost of the fuel the 2nd line is the if your furnace is running at 100% Eff. The 3rd row down is per year to heat the house. The 4rth row is the cost savings per month if you have Geo thermal heating installed instead of the fuel you have. But notice the 5th row down this one is important, this tell you if you are a wise steward of you money. If the pay back in years is 10 years or less you could save a lot of money. In 1988 if you had an Electric furnace and changed it in 88 by 1997 the system would have been paid off and today you would have $37,015.00 more in your pocket. This price is based on the electric price in 1988 and we all know that the price has risen for electric energy. In the 2008 Chart look at the pay back on all 4 types of fuel. The price of LP gas is 4.03 dollars per gallon now, and is going up – I heard it could reach 8.00 per gallon by spring. If it only goes up only an additional $2.00 it will cost you 1500.00 per month on a budget, can you afford it.

Electrical panels done right

Let’s look at the first electrical panel. There are 3 problems with this panel. #1 The 2 high voltage lines and the neutral line coming into the the main shot off switch are painted white. These is not legal, The 2 high voltage lines required to be marked in black and the neutral must be marked in white. This is not only a state code but a national code.

#2 If a person needed to add and outlet on an existing circuit and opened up and an existing outlet box cover and saw the white wire he would automatically think black with black wire, the white with white wire and ground, with ground wire. 98% of the time you would be right, but if the white wire is not labeled properly in the panel as a 220-volt, at the same time the outlet box is also improperly labeled you would cross wiring a 110-volt appliance with 220-volts and burn it out that is if it doesn’t start a electrical fire.

The 3rd problem is this panel is a 2nddairy sub panel. When you wire a sub panel the neutral wire must go to the neutral bar and the ground wires must go to the grounding bar. They cannot be mixed it the law.
On this next photo this electrical panel was done properly. The high voltage lines are labeled properly as well as the 220-volt circuits and the neutrals and grounds are supported properly.

Dressing up a stairway

There are a lot of poor quality contractors and carpenters out there, when people sign up for having handrails system installed on a stairway. They are surprised as to what was built. A Lot of contractors build a knee-wall 2”-3” above the tread, covered by a wood trim board and then the handrail system on top the trim board, because they don’t know how to install a exposed tread system.


A cheap exposed tread system looks like this photo. What makes it look cheap is the skirt board. The reason is that it does not match the baseboard joining up with it.

If you have to put in an inexpensive knee wall over a handrail this is a quiet but elegant way of going about it.

If you have a smart carpenter use a 1”x 8” board and a piece of 5” tall base to make a custom make skirt board. Join them to together with a biscuit jointer and glue. Than run it through a surface planer and bring them down to the same thickness. A few minutes of light sanding, and your new skirt board is ready to be custom cut.

Not only can it be custom cut into the base, but you can make it follow up the staircase to the 2nd floor enhancing the look of staircase.

Stairways – a lot of carpenters can build good-looking stairways.

The question is; Can the stairway hold it’s own weight as well as the working load being put on it.

Osha requirements for a stairway;
From a design standpoint, the specified design loads (e.g., normal live load and moving concentrated load of 1000 lbs.) must be placed where the maximum stress is experienced by the individual structural components of the stair system.

Looking at a framing section of a stairway the sawtooth cut boards are called stair jacks. Looking closer at a jack the deepest cut of the notch for the step into the jack to the bottom side of a jack if your using a 2” x 12” will be 3 1/2” to 4” of uncut material is equal to a 2” x 4” with this understanding we can calculate out what a 2” x 12” stair jack system can carry. With all lumber we do not measure the length of the steps from the top to the bottom but instead from the front edge of the step to the load bearing point that supports the top of the step. A wall height of 8’ and a floor joist of 9 1/2” will make the run of the stairjack 12’5”.


A single 2”x 4” spanning 10’2” can only carry 10 Lbs. per running foot times 3 jacks a total of 300 Lbs. Nailing a 2×4 on the side of the jack doubles the working load to 600 Lbs. But on the problem above we are short 2 1/2 feet. Going to a 2” x 14” stairjack will leave a 2” x 6” amount of material left this will carry a 20 Lbs. 12’9”
With 3 Jacks the total dead and live load for this stairway is now 12.75 x 20 x 3 jacks= 765Lbs. adding 3- 2” x 6” on one side of the Jack doubles the load 1530 Lbs. This is now a legal working stairway for wood steps.

The problem now comes in when the homeowners want stone on the treads and risers. The weight alone is 32 Lbs. per SF or 1153.1 Lbs. for this stairway. And it only leaves 377 Lbs. for live load. Changing and using a LVL or a micro laminated beam works much better. Using a 1 3/4” x 14” LVL beam with a 12’9” span will carry 68 per SF. X 3 Jack you a total working load of 2601 Lbs. this passes with flying colors. This gives you a live load of 1448 Lbs. Or in other words, you can have 6 adults sitting or standing on the stairway for a group photo and it will not wince.

Columns were are they to be used

Installing architectural elements IE columns are a way to bestow grandeur, or an air of formality, reverence, and ha for ones surroundings. If your looking for a quiet place to read, or review documents having columns quiets the room down. When people enter they become respectful of the area. Installing columns in a formal dining room is saying to the guests that bar room manners are not welcome, and this is not a picnic ground, so put on your good behavior.
If your looking for a light hearted atmosphere to dine with children this is not the room for columns.

Columns make a person take note of their surroundings that something has in the past, present, and/or near future will be happening in this place.

Going back to theses homes I have installed these columns, It bring me back to the meeting that I had attended in these rooms over the years.

Installing cheap columns or ones that are improperly built cheapens the room, which sends a massage to the people coming in seeing them actually ignore the fact columns are there, even thought they have to step around them as they walk through the house.

Bathrooms say a lot about the people living in the home.

Are you sending the right message.
Before you remodel your bathroom,

Think long term 5 ,10, 15 ,or 20 years and/or 2 or 3 different types of jobs or hobbies you might have in the future.
You may spend 10 minutes and up 2 hours a day in this prep room. Doing things right in this room will set your mode for the rest of the days you live in this house.
Thing to think about when you design a bathroom;

Number of people needing to use this room at the same time; 2 or 3 kids, a couple, 2 or people staying over IE relatives and friends, room mates, etc.
With these things in mind your now ready to start answering questions.

a. Think about cleaning
B. Bathing
C. Midnight strolls
D. Getting your makeup on
1. Lighting
2. Putting on makeup
3. Storage
4. Accessibility to storage, and left or right handed people
5. Accessories- hair driers, curling
6. 6. Room accents


Attic spaces

Older homes have a large advantage over new homes. The designs of these gracious older homes have large attics with fun ways to convert theses spaces into unique personal rooms.
In this attic space we converted a trusses roof system to create a personal office for this family.

We had some fun with personal area we installed quarter sawn white oak with accent walnut strips in the corbels, top rail of the panel system and the desktop edging.