A little more life

When we built our house we installed as the main HVAC, in Finnish, a Poistoilmalämpöpumput (PILP). Whether that was the most efficient thing to do over that time is a good question, but it is now nearing its twentieth year with only a few hiccups. Those include filling the air exchange unit with water that destroyed the output air fan as well as a couple of electrical condensers being replaced. The timing of these episodes has always been impeccable, so it was of course right on New Year’s Day that the unit started making a noise audible right through the house.

Twenty years is quite well beyond the expected lifespan for a system like this so it was slightly relieving to find it seemed to be only the input fan, but calling out someone under any circumstances is expensive and takes time. It occurred to me to just replace the fan myself since is an easily accessible unit with a simple connector. A few hours of searching made me doubt that. The model of PILP we have is a Nibe Fighter 410P and it seems that although the model was sold for multiple years the components in it have changed. The fans alone have moved from AC to DC over the years and even within the AC type fans the manufacturer has changed. The original model in ours from 2004 is a Swedish Östberg model RFE 140 DUU S2. These don’t exist any longer and although there are generic ventilation system fans with similar size and specs whether those could be a drop-in replacement isn’t clear. In some forums it was implied that they require different control electronics to work. An AC fan apparently requires a controller to ensure it spins in the required direction. The replacement fans price ranged from 150 – 350€, so a mistake is expensive. But calling a repair person to visit is easily another 200€ on top of that.

From the forum investigations I learned that the only thing that fails in the fans are the bearings and those bearings are technically replaceable. Some versions of the owners manual even instruct how to do this. So, if it was failing anyway then pulling it apart couldn’t really make it that much worse. After translating 10 – 15 year old Finnish forum posts I did some double checking of the fan and then went shopping.

Official instructions thanks to the interwebs

Firstly, the bearings themselves are hidden by a plastic plug over the main motor shaft. You remove the plug by jamming a sharp object down the side and levering it out. That exposes the bearing which turns out to be a 608Z ABE C5. Luckily Biltema has exactly this available for 7,40€ each.

What awaits under the plug

The next issue is that there are two bearings, one exposed under the plug and one at the other end of the shaft. After removing the retaining clip off the shaft and some washers next use something and a hammer to tap the shaft and drop it out of the top bearing.

This frees the shaft and motor enclosure and exposes the second bearing. This one is bonded to the shaft by age and will not come out. This requires a bearing removal tool which I also bought from Biltema based on my forum reading. Except that the one I got is far too big to fit inside the motor enclosure and also has too fat feet to slip under the bearing. After some contemplation and swearing there was another trip to Motonet for a different model of the puller tool. Of course not having taken exact measurements I just had to pick something that looks like it would fit and have feet that would slip under the bearing. This one was nearly 40€ or 4x the price of the wrong one from Biltema. And of course when I got home and tried with the new one it also didn’t fit in to the housing. Well almost didn’t fit, since with some creative usage it was possible to get the bearing to move enough to use the puller as intended and get it finally off the shaft. The replacement just slipped back in.

The devil at the bottom of the shaft

The first bearing was free of the shaft already, but jammed into the motor housing. Getting it out required creative use of a screwdriver and hammer. Luckily the bearing is slightly smaller than the size of the hole through the motor where the shaft goes, meaning you can wedge something against it from inside the motor and tap on it to free it from the housing. The replacement also goes back in with a few taps to seat it fully.

New hobbies for the New Year

The only thing remaining is to put everything back together, the shaft back in place, and the washers, retainer and plug. Then mount the fan back into its duct, and then install the whole unit back in place. When I finally switched the Nibe back on it made it normal startup racket and the fans started spinning and made a terrible grinding noise. After a momentary panic I realised it isn’t the fan, but something else entirely.

Next to the fan is a solenoid that holds open a door on the air channel while the unit is on. Obviously when the unit is off it blocks the channel and prevents back flow of air from the house. That is connected via a spring loaded arm through the wall of the fan unit mounting. That arm vibrates against the sheet steel wall and makes a racket. Holding the arm just right silences it, but nothing I can do stops it vibrating except by holding it. As it happens there was a small kitchen sponge handy and jamming it against the arm stops the vibration completely. This brought on some serious déjà vu, but I have no idea what the solution was previously.

The end result is the normal amount of noise with near silent fans again and at a cost of 60€. The biggest concern now is that how long can we get away with this. The service guy we used previously already warned that something more serious like fixing a compressor failure would be not worth the investment. A replacement HVAC system is likely to be close to 20000€.

Modern life

A couple of hours this evening spent going through every online auto renewing subscription and changing the credit card number. Good thing it only expires every few years and that I thought to actually keep a list of all those.

Comments on the webs

Usually reading comments is not something recommended, but sometimes you come across something worth the effort. 

In response to this, http://gizmodo.com/nasa-calls-bullshit-on-goops-120-bio-frequency-healing-1796309360 you find occasional gems. Via http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/nasa-slams-goop/

Most people live in a world of magic that they do not understand. They flip a switch and the room becomes brighter. They turn a key and the car starts (making noise) and they can then make it go places. They put pre-packaged food into a box and press flat numbered places on the front and the food spins and gets hot. They walk up to a transparent wall and part of it slides out of their way… They swipe and press on places on a flat glass rectangle and get photos of cats and of their friends making funny faces… ALL of this is magic. They have no idea how any of it works, not really.

Is it any wonder that people believe in magic rocks to put into private parts? Or that this or that magic fruit will help them be healthy? Or that one type of needle wards off evil spirits (viruses) that can make them sick and another type of needle wards off evil spirits (unbalanced chi) that can make them sick? They literally have no means off separating our modern tech and science from woo. All of it is magic.

As Arthur C. Clark said, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. We have arrived.

– http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/nasa-slams-goop/#comment-338655

Fun with a UPS

Two things come to mind.

  1. The joys of living in the country side
  2. It has been a relatively quiet winter


2016-08-13 05:51:32 +0300  Power failure.
2016-08-13 05:59:48 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-08-14 10:04:36 +0300  Power failure.
2016-08-14 10:04:37 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-09-13 07:10:29 +0300  Power failure.
2016-09-13 07:10:31 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-09-30 10:46:39 +0300  Power failure.
2016-09-30 10:46:41 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-09-30 10:46:41 +0300  Power failure.
2016-09-30 10:46:43 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-09-30 10:47:42 +0300  Power failure.
2016-09-30 10:47:44 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-10-06 18:44:42 +0300  Power failure.
2016-10-06 18:44:44 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-10-11 08:09:43 +0300  Power failure.
2016-10-11 08:09:45 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-10-28 17:43:18 +0300  Power failure.
2016-10-28 17:43:49 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-11-23 13:29:53 +0200  Power failure.
2016-11-23 13:30:55 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-11-23 13:30:56 +0200  Power failure.
2016-11-23 13:44:40 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-11-28 00:57:35 +0200  Power failure.
2016-11-28 00:58:37 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-11-28 01:04:23 +0200  Power failure.
2016-11-28 01:35:42 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-11-28 01:36:58 +0200  Power failure.
2016-11-28 01:37:43 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-11-28 01:37:43 +0200  Power failure.
2016-11-28 01:37:43 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2017-01-30 13:11:37 +0200  Power failure.
2017-01-30 13:11:39 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2017-02-04 07:42:26 +0200  Power failure.
2017-02-04 07:42:28 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.

An increase of power

A colder feelingAfter weeks of southerly quarter winds and warm wet weather it has finally turned to the north. Just over a week ago the temperature went from +5 to -15°C in a couple of days. A little bit of a shock to the system, and also our power bill. Mid 2013 the power company installed a smart meter as is required by law now. So we went from doing the reading ourselves once a year to getting hourly readings automatically. Before we used to get monthly estimated bills that were evened out over the entire year with a correction every 12 months. That usually wasn’t in our favour though.

Now we get actual bills relating to what we really used. So I’m not looking forward to the next couple of months. It is also pretty easy to see how our heat exchange system handles the cold. And that isn’t pretty either.

Power for January

Waiting for winter

For some reason it feels pretty cold at the moment even though it is barely below zero.

But after a month of wet and windy weather this is as close to winter as we have had. Still, it doesn’t take more than a couple days of this to get a decent hoar frost going.

Snow, damn snow

As you might have heard it has snowed a little bit in the south of Finland this year. And this has caused us and others a few problems.

Firstly we were running out of places to put all the snow.


But now the temperature has risen above zero C for the first time in about 60 days. That and predictions of more sleet and snow are giving rise to warnings about snow loadings on roofs. There has already been one sports hall roof collapse and although we have no idea of the actual loading of the house it is better to be safe than sorry. As it turns out the snow was up to 1m deep on our roof in places, although a bit less on average. That gives about 100kg per square metre (depending on snow density) and then with the size of the roof (about 185 sq.m) that is about 18 tonnes loading on the roof… Sooo, maybe a good idea to take some of it off.

Luckily our roof isn’t so steep and the snow was pretty deep. So not much slippage which was good for me. The snow layers separated pretty well, which in the mountains would be good for avalanches… But for me it meant it was a bit easier to remove the snow. Although it took several hours to clear the whole roof over the weekend and quite many aches and pains.


Unfortunately we thought we had a snow problem before.

Now we really have a snow problem…

So much that it is a bit difficult to get out of the house now!


In with the new

You might have noticed the new FriendFeed box in the menu block. That is where basically everything online is agregatted into one place. There you can find my entries on Twitter, Facebook, Kevätkartano, and anything else I do online. If I add something new I’ll include it in FriendFeed.

If you use an RSS reader (Google Reader, Thunderbird, Firefox, etc) then the easiest thing is just to use the FriendFeed RSS feed instead.

Noisy lakes

It seems that frozen lakes can actually be quite noisey. Not just crunching and creaking of ice, but much, much more.

When the conditions are right, rapidly changing temperatures, snowless ice, no wind, the entire ice sheet can resonate when minor cracks form. We discovered this a couple of weeks ago when it was a calm evening with the temperature dropping past -12C. There were very strange resonate boings coming from the direction of the lake. The noises were so loud at times that we could hear them up to 200 metres away from the lake edge. But standing on the jetty it was a different matter. The noises were coming from all directions all across the lake, just seconds apart. It was a very strange sound and quite freaky in the dark. They sounded so odd it was hard to imagine they were natural.

But as we found out later (thanks to Google), it is known, if not that common. And here are a few examples.

Frozen lake

The lake was over 20cm thick at the time and extremely clear. That is easily thick enough to walk on, which we did the next weekend a couple of times. The lake even rewarded us with a few extra boings as well.