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RE: GSBN:Leaving bales bare

Hi all,

Great topic, and good timing. I have just a few comments to add to  all that
has been said that I agree with. And I don't mean to jump on you Rene, just
adding to our best thoughts on minimizing mold growth.

I think the concern with saying plaster as soon as you can is to temper it
with the other concerns that come with good building and good detailing. We
have seen the bales do very well without there skins but not without their
roofs. I would say get your roof on as soon as you can. And next to that
field conditions at baling have got to be your best bet. But not far behind
is the bales story from field to roofed. It is this issue that keeps us from
recommending Organic bales. We have seen them bloom far more thoroughly next
to chemo bales which I assume has to do with how much of a start the mold
got from the other organic mater in the Organic bale. We also avoid loose
stuffed straw if at all possible as this seems to gather more dew each
morning it goes un plastered. Since our engineers require us to hose down
the walls before plastering we have taken to adding borax to the spray to
minimize the spore development as it dries.

One story illustrates what we've seen again and again. We had a welder come
out to adjust some of his work in front of one of our walls. Since it was a
25' high wall we didn't want to remove the stack. I asked him to hose down
the way we do before we plaster the wall and use a shield for the sparks. He
did and things were going fine so I went on to other things. When I got back
he told me that he had soaked the wall good so we wouldn't have any
problems. I asked what he meant. And he said he had hosed the wall for a
good 10-20 minutes full blast. So I knew we were going to be a month more
before plastering (3,000 bales don't go up and get lathed in a weekend
workshop) so I said lets watch what happens. So sure enough we measured the
moisture content and Temperature at the start and end of each day. We saw
the moisture drop steadily after a quick dissipation and then the outer 3-6
inches dried completely. Soon there after we noticed that 6" in, we had
stabilized at around 24. On the exterior the bale looked golden as the day
it went in. The moisture readings then dropped on the interior and our crew
concluded that it had miraculously survived. A week later I checked again
and the temp was up 6" in so we lifted the stack above the wetted bale with
a fork lift and I had a look. Sure enough from 6"-10" we had a pocket of
significant mold growth. We carved out the bale and 4" around any visible
mold. Treated it all with borax and filled it with lime slipped straw.

We now check all our bales very thoroughly and continue to mulch about 30%
of what is delivered. We set aside many bales for plaster, straw clay or
cob, since we can open the bale for an inspection in each of those cases.

Well, I was going to tell you about the mushroom growing house I just built
that has been through this winter without a roof but I was too longwinded

Thanks again to all who share there knowledge and experience,


Tim Owen-Kennedy
Vital Systems
Natural Building & Design, Inc.
888.859.6336   www.vitalsystems.net

-----Original Message-----
From: GSBN [<a  target="_blank" href="mailto:GSBN@...";>mailto:GSBN@...] On Behalf Of Rene Dalmeijer
Sent: Thursday, January 20, 2005 2:15 AM
Subject: Re: GSBN:Leaving bales bare

John and all others,

My initial intention was not to say that plastering bales ASAP should
be regarded as absolute priority under all circumstances. The main
thing is to keep the bales in the wall below 20% rel moisture levels.

What I do suggest is that getting fresh dry bales bales rapidly
plastered will most probably seriously reduce the risks of an
inadvertent wetting incident.
On Jan 20, 2005, at 06:21, John Swearingen wrote:

> This is an interesting topic right at present, since we're trying to
> stack 1000 bales in exposed gable ends in the middle of torrential wind
> and rain in California (we've only lost 20 bales to the rain).  While
> certainly I agree that it's best to use dry bales and get them
> plastered
> quickly, I question whether this principle should be raised to a level
> of almost absolute priority.  Habib's experiences, and our own, suggest
> that the walls are pretty resilient when it comes to moisture.
> It seems from what John is saying, that mold growth is jump-started in
> bales that have previously experienced conditions of spore growth, but
> I
> would ask whether, or how, this influences the future suseptability of
> the wall to mold.  It would seem that the humidity level required for
> mold would not change, simply that mold would appear more quickly, say
> after two winter's wetting rather than ten?  If the walls are not
> likely
> to experience serious wetting in the future, is this really a problem?

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