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Energy Efficient Net Zero Off Grid Prefab House Goes Down To -2 And... Alpha Gal.

Surrounded by snow, the energy efficient net zero off grid prefab house nestled in as the temperatures plummeted to -2. The cook stove was kept going, keeping the prefab house heated as the extreme weather plummeted...

In the morning, as usual in winter, I ran the HRV for an hour. That's when I figured out a mystery that had been puzzling me since a polar vortex a few years ago: what was that weird water pattern on the plywood that mysteriously showed up one day in an area that (like everywhere) is (always) secure and dry? I had watched that area for years and never seen condensation since. Aside from that one time it has always been dry as a bone...

Notes on Fresh Air Exchange when it is seriously, frigid, below zero cold in any house, prefab or traditionally-built, off grid or on: 
Our fresh air exchange system, a Honeywell HRV, is so critical during seasons where we don't have windows open and the breeze flowing as our modern prefab house has such a tight envelope, has shown an issue that anyone, in any home, needs to know about if they are using our thinking of using an ERV / HRV.

The wonderful thing about these conditioning pipes is that in winter cold air is pumped in but does not bring down the temperature of the off grid prefab because instead of immediately mixing with the indoor air, they travel through pipes which allows the air to acclimate to the indoor air temperature. So by the time that fresh air mixes with the old, it's not freezing cold but comfortable!

HOWEVER. When the outdoor temperatures are extreme, in this case, near zero, and only when it is this dire, ice forms on the outside of the pipe! Look closely here:
Above that northwest window-
do you see the vent for fresh air exchange?
Now, rare for our area, we are in BELOW ZERO temperatures.
I'm running the HRV while making dinner...
come in to the bedroom to grab something
and notice: WHOA! What is that ice there on the pipe?!?
And then the mystery stain suddenly makes sense.
FYI don't freak out like I did- that black is not mold but waterproof tape.

This is a very rare occurrence in this climate HOWEVER it will be something we address because we can not take any chance of any moisture or mold, EVER, being so allergic.
So now we know, and now you know.

Simple to solve, but something not good if you ignore
Adjusting the humidity setting on the HRV should do the trick but I am also eyeing how to protect the wall for future dire temperature situations, a good proactive thing you / your contractor should consider. Our contractor made sure to wrap everything in contact with waterproof insulating tape (seen in the photo as black), I will see what Artic climate contractors do to see if there's anything else we might consider.

Sooooooooooo... it plummeted to -2.
Dear Mom: We are still not dead even though the weather is dire:
Cozy & comfortable in the prefab house...

"I want you to keep your bedroom door open tonight- I want to make sure heat is evenly distributed throughout the house since it's going down to -2. JUST IN CASE the wood stove goes out, I want y'all to be toasty!"
Pip 1: "I actually like my door closed because I *don't* want it so hot. I sleep so much better in a cool room and it's always so hot in this house!"

I mentally note that we live off grid heated only with a tiny firebox yet are always hot in this energy efficient house...
"Ok, I get that..."
Pip 1: "PLUS in a zombie apocalypse they can't open the door and I can listen out for their ragged breathing. Thankfully I have my cannons and guns and always wear ear protection so they can't sneak up on me when I'm unarmed."

So there we were, happily ensconced in snow in a toasty off grid house. There was nothing to do but have fun! Except... Pip 2 was off. She hadn't been feeling well since having a slice of pecan pie over the holidays. We had taken her to the allergist and were awaiting test results. In the meantime (of course!) we avoided nuts. But...

"Momma, I hurt and I can't breathe..." She was reacting to... BREAD. Through the snow, black ice, and deer, Handsome Husband and Pip 2 rushed to the hospital... only to return, hours later, still with no answers, scared, starving, reactive.

Pip 2's allergy test results are coming in, and they show she is not allergic to X, Y, Z. But her body is reacting so.
Imagine your child's face flushed and patchy
and medical people telling you she's not allergic to anything...

Y'all. This is NOT IN HER HEAD.

Finally the results for alpha gal came in and... she tested positive.

What does this mean? No dairy nor mammalian meat. What is alpha gal? Have a lissen.

She's trying to be cheery but it's hard.

Even then, the list of what she "can" or "can not" eat doesn't make sense- she is reacting to apples, lettuce, beans, potatoes, yet does not test as allergic. How do you explain the huge splotches on her face? Why does she say her heart flutters after?

I frantically began to research. I think histamine intolerance / mast cell disorder are a second thing she is undergoing, and it involves foods we turned to in order to avoid alpha-gal reactions and gain proper nutrition from elimination of alpha gal items.

In the past week we have been to the ER three times with our daughter but now I feel like I am discovering ALPHA GAL -AND- histamine intolerance or mast cell disorder.

Next week's post is dedicated to Alpha Gal and the subset of those reacting to histamine / mast cell disorder.

In the meantime, she is living on kidney beans, and we are on the horn to medical professionals with our research.
Please pray for us, wish us luck, send us karma.  She is tired, we are tired, she is starving, we are scared and frustrated.
Only SHE would go outside, make a
snow heart, and bring it in to calm me
as I'm frantically getting directions
to the allergist as she is reacting...
Down the rabbit hole we go.

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At 1/16/17, 11:39 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Praying you guys get it figured out what's wrong with her. I can't imagine the frustration and fear and feeling so helpless. God Bless.

At 1/16/17, 2:16 PM , Blogger Passive Solar Prefab Homes said...

Thank you so much. We still haven't figured it out...


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