I recently returned from a two-week family vacation trip to Alaska. This was my first trip to Alaska; of course, two weeks is a very brief time to visit such a vast state. We were able to spend some time in Fairbanks, Denali National Park, Anchorage, and Seward. We also spent several days fishing along the Salcha River and at Lower Paradise Lake on the Kenai Peninsula.
My visit to Alaska sparked ideas for several possible blogs:
- During my visit to Fairbanks, where winter temperatures hit -60°F and permafrost is close to the surface, I learned how difficult it is to keep water pipes and septic system pipes from freezing. Builders in Fairbanks routinely hire spray-foam contractors to encapsulate drain pipes from the house to the septic tank before trenches are backfilled. Even with spray foam, it’s still often necessary to install electric heat tape to keep buried pipes warm.
- My brief visit to the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) in Fairbanks reminded me of all of the good research that director Jack Hébert and his staff have performed over the years. Anyone who builds houses in a cold climate owes a debt of gratitude to the folks at the CCHRC. (Thanks for the tour, Jack, and keep up the good work.)
- During a sojourn at a Forest Service cabin on Lower Paradise Lake, I pondered the fact that there are two ways that Alaskans can keep warm during the winter: they can improve the airtightness and R-value of their home’s building envelope, or they can simply build a very small home. Small homes are easy to heat, even if they aren’t particularly well built.
But all of these topics have been pushed to the back of my brain by a more serious issue:…