It's 1 Degree and your heat went out... What's your back up??
I'm writing this today from the cool crispy Chicagoland area which is currently 1deg F. This is truly an “Inspired” piece due to the fact that.... you guessed it, my heat went out.
I will start this off going back to our old house. Built in the early 50's by my Grandfather who literally scavenged most of the more expensive components, like the heating system. The design was great, though crude, he used a coal fired boiler from the early 1900's that he then converted to natural gas with a very simple “flamethrower”. Instead of using radiators, he ran copper coils all over the plywood floor and then covered them with 2” of concrete. The beauty of the system was the large mass of concrete (26,000lbs of it) was heated first.
The upside of the design was that the floor and essentially everything touching the floor was heated. If you opened the doors and windows on a cold day and then closed them, the room came right back up to temp unlike forced air heat, where you would be waiting for the air to be re-heated. The gas bill was also very low, our neighbors house built with the same plans but with forced air heat had gas bills consistently double ours, despite them having a modern 90% furnace and far more attic insulation.
The downside was that Gramps started of with an already 50 year old boiler along with copper coils in the concrete. Little did he know at the time was that copper and concrete do not play well together. When my wife and I moved in during the early 90's the house was in some disrepair and the age of the system was starting to show. After about 5 years, the system finally failed, the copper lines were leaking and water was seeping through the concrete floors, lifting tile all over the place. Tried sealers to no avail, and being on the cash strapped side of life with a new family being built I switched to wood heat.
The first wood burner I bought was too small because of where I had it, the basement. My thoughts were to heat up that 26,000lbs of concrete from the bottom and try to mimic the radiant heat we had before. So I had to supplement our heat with a non-electric non-vented gas heater that I installed in front of the fire place in the living room. This set up worked though it was a lot of work because of the small fire box on the wood burner, but the rooms were all warm with the living room a bit warmer. After two years of that, I scrounged a barn find wood burner with a large fire box that would run a full 8hrs and accomplished my original goal of having a warm floor, the gas heater was now purely back up. Because 90% of the wood I used was free storm pickup, I was spending even less on heat than I did before, though there was a trade off in the labor needed to cut, split and stack enough firewood to make it through a Chicago winter. During this time frame I also picked up a Keroheat Kerosene convection heater as a back up and to heat the garage.
Fast Forward 2016......
We now rent a house also built in the 50's but we do not have the wood burner option and currently I do not have that vent-less gas heater set up (that may soon change after this weekend). BUT I do have that Kerosene heater. I was pleasantly surprised that the heater set on low, in conjunction with the furnace fan circulating the air, is keeping a 1200 square ft 1 ½ story cape cod with single pane aluminum windows, leaky doors and NO insulation in the walls a toasty 65 degrees F while it is 1degree outside!
The specs on the kerosene heater are 23,000btus and the 1.9 gal tank gives it a 12hr run time on low (which is what I have it set at). Now at the 4.25 per gallon that I paid, thats not cheap coming in at 480 per month if I ran it 24/7 for a month. But getting the job done in an emergency situation like this is priclesss IMHO. The specs on the back up vent-less gas heater I have is 30,000btus. Both of these heaters I bought off season and on clearance (one at Menards, the other Home Depot if I recall correctly).
What do you have as a back up heat source????
The following links are simply for clarification purposes, I am not suggesting you support either site.
Kerosene convection heater
Non-electric vent free gas heater (mine is the same but unfortunately not dual fuel)
".........I find alot of the other boards are full of alot of guys that have alot of "anger issues" that I flat can do without. The "tin foil" subjects are distractions that diverts one's attention from subjects that actually matter - like training and preparing........" Tire Iron 2/08