The Tortilla, The Kitchen Fan and The Energy Auditor

The Tortilla, The Kitchen Fan and The Energy Auditor

So, I was getting ready for my morning bike ride to the coast and decided I needed some calories. Part of my choice was some tortillas. I placed them in the toaster oven and went about my morning. This included drinking my morning coffee and checking my email.

Mmm what is that smell? I had inadvertently put the tortillas in the forge of Vulcan. I set the timer to a mere twenty minutes instead of the normal one. As I got up I could see the smoke swirling giving me a first look at slow moving convection loops. How cool is that I thought. Probably not as uncool as filling the house with tortilla smoke. I turned the oven off and took the formerly known as tortillas outside to smolder.

Well now lets see how good my kitchen hood fan performs I thought. I turned on the fan and monitored the escape of smoke. I was curious to see how it performed. This was like a spillage test during CAZ I did not have a lot of time. The girls were all asleep and I did not want them to start choking. They'll be fine I thought, on with the testing

Phase I: Fan only.

I turned my kitchen fan on. Not much effect at all. The kitchen is clearing but the test of the home seems unaffected. I can see the living room and the smoke seems to be stagnant. I expected this would be the case

Phase II: Fan on; far window open.
I can feel the air rushing through the window but the smoke is getting out very slowly. I thought this would help and it did but not enough. The fan needed the draw of fresh air for efficiency and general operation but the result was slow and ineffective.

Phase III: Open window closest to fan.

My hope was to create more movement and exhaust more smoke The dog is up now looking at me like I am an idiot. I am, but he doesn’t have to look at me that way. Still not much in the way of movement of smoke.

Phase IV: Open all windows

This is started by the dog , that apparently needs to pee or simply does not want to be in a room filled with smoke or a combination of the two. Immediate results - I can see smoke pour out of the leeward side. I knew this would work from past experience of burning things inside (see Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity)

In conclusion, first and foremost, do not burn tortillas inside your home. This leaves a lingering and unpleasant odor in the home and your dog looks at you like you’re an idiot. In addition the tortillas are ruined and unfit for consumption. When the wife and kids wake up they will not only look at you like you’re an idiot (see the dog) but verbally communicate that you’re an idiot….several times

Furthermore mechanical systems such as our kitchen fan are often specific use. Had I burned something on the stove and had the fan running it would perform quit well. The free air such as an open window would have been beneficial in assisting the fan.

Our systems in our homes work well when operating correctly for what they are designed for. Make sure each time you use the stove to turn on your hood fan.

Red E3 http://rede3.com glen@rede3.com @glengallo Linkedin

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Comment by Michael Lopez on January 19, 2012 at 11:15am

Glen, excellent post.  I ran across it as I was having my morning tacos, whole wheat tortillas toasted on a comal, and had to interrupt my energy modeling work to read it.  Since I'm very familiar with burning tortillas, I must say you were methodical in your observations.  Keep up the good work!

Comment by Dale Sherman on January 19, 2012 at 6:59am

Great story, Glen.  In the likelyhood that you'll eventually try to heat your house again with tortillas, you need to treat your toaster oven as a combustion appliance and install a miniature draft hood for it.  As there are only about 1,000 or so Btus in a tortilla, there probably won't be enough heated air to induce a draft, so you'll also need to install a draft inducer and wire it into the switch on the toaster oven.  Be sure to wire it into the idiot setting so the inducer will only come on when your oven switches from a reheating toaster to a biochar kiln.

Comment by Glen Gallo on January 9, 2012 at 9:38am

Bud,

I have some pictures but am not savvy enough to post them here. They are in my webpage linked above. I do look forward to having more excuses as I am not creative enough to come up with them with my own.

Glen .

Comment by Bud Poll on January 9, 2012 at 9:02am

Hi Glen, you forgot your camera.  If you are going to run a convection test, at least take some pictures :).

Just to add, it could be worse, you could be my age.  When I over toast something, not only do they look at me like I'm an idiot, but they look at each other to confirm I headed into full blown Alzheimer's. The excuse that I have always been a ditz doesn't seem to sway their their conclusion as they look at all of the smoke.

Now you know what you have to look forward to.  In my case, I'm looking for a smart stove that won't burn things even if I try.

Bud

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