Laying Earth Tubes

When I arrived at the Green Garage a couple of days ago, I was greeted with this sight out our back door:

Wall of dirt

Yes, that’s a wall of dirt. We had to dig a 6-ft trench to lay down our earth tubes (they are helping modulate the temps in the building). The digger (sorry, I don’t know the technical term) first dug a trench covering the north side of the backyard and the tubes were laid.

Earth tube placement

This section was covered up and work on the south part of the trench was begun…and here’s where we ran into problems. First, you must know that we looked at a survey ahead of time and it indicated that a water main resided in this south section of the back yard. So we called the city water department out, and they told us, with no uncertainty, that there was no water main there. And, silly us, we believed them. So I’m sure you can guess by now that on Tuesday we hit the water main. We had a nice fountain going for a while.

By Wednesday this was all cleaned up and digging resumed. The next glitch occurred when we tried to dig in the general vicinity of the telephone pole. It began shuddering, and our digger shut down once again. The next couple of hours were spent trying to figure out how to get the tubes into the ground without knocking down the pole. Here we are in pause ‘n think mode. Notice the pole placement in relation to the hole.


The consensus was to angle the tubes so that they would connect up with the previously placed tubes in the middle of the back yard, but as they came closer to the pole, they would run along the side of the building. Like so:

Final tube placement

These tubes then were fitted into holes we had dug in the basement.


Here’s a closer view of the holes:

Earth tube holes

One casualty of the altered placement of the tubes was the coal chute that resided above these holes. This chute is an original feature of the building, and is where the coal was delivered to feed the furnace. When we began digging after the big think, the chute was dug up, despite our efforts to avoid it. The good news, though, is that the absence of the chute provided the first daylight into the basement in about 75 years.

Coal chute

Because we were delayed by the water main and the telephone pole, we could not finish the job by Wednesday night, and since we’re experiencing a pretty steady rain, we’re all a bit anxious to see what greets us tomorrow in the basement!  It’s all part of the adventure…

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