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  #1  
Old 08-24-2010, 11:18 PM
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Rayeban Female Rayeban is offline
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Default best heat backup plan?

Hello,

I would like to refit our home for different heating options in case of emergency; this is the situation.

Home was built about 1946-47 in small town (Ag zone 4-5) with fuel oil furnace and two wood burning fire places. One fireplace is in the living room on the main floor (last used about 20 years ago) and the other is in the basement former rec room (last used 40+ years ago). There is a triple chimney in the center of the house with flues for each of the fireplaces and the third flue is no longer used because the furnace is now natural gas and now vents outside via pvc pipe.

I would like to convert one fireplace to propane for heat backup in case of power failure (or TEOTWAWKI) and furnace would no longer work. I was thinking the basement one would be the one to convert as it would be easier to keep the basement at a constant temperature but we also live 200 ft from a river and in extreme flood years we get up to a foot of water in the basement. Are the jets etc. attached to the floor of the fireplace or could the apparatus be disconnected and raised above "flood" level when needed?

If we converted a fireplace to propane would I just vent it out the chimney or would it be better to vent it out the unused furnace flue? I understand that no matter what, the flues would need to be inspected before being used for wood, propane, or any combustible.

I know less than nothing about this so I would appreciate any constructive thoughts and suggestions.

Thank you in advance!

Rayeban
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  #2  
Old 08-24-2010, 11:25 PM
mozarkian mozarkian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rayeban View Post
Hello,

I would like to refit our home for different heating options in case of emergency; this is the situation.

Home was built about 1946-47 in small town (Ag zone 4-5) with fuel oil furnace and two wood burning fire places. One fireplace is in the living room on the main floor (last used about 20 years ago) and the other is in the basement former rec room (last used 40+ years ago). There is a triple chimney in the center of the house with flues for each of the fireplaces and the third flue is no longer used because the furnace is now natural gas and now vents outside via pvc pipe.

I would like to convert one fireplace to propane for heat backup in case of power failure (or TEOTWAWKI) and furnace would no longer work. I was thinking the basement one would be the one to convert as it would be easier to keep the basement at a constant temperature but we also live 200 ft from a river and in extreme flood years we get up to a foot of water in the basement. Are the jets etc. attached to the floor of the fireplace or could the apparatus be disconnected and raised above "flood" level when needed?

If we converted a fireplace to propane would I just vent it out the chimney or would it be better to vent it out the unused furnace flue? I understand that no matter what, the flues would need to be inspected before being used for wood, propane, or any combustible.

I know less than nothing about this so I would appreciate any constructive thoughts and suggestions.

Thank you in advance!

Rayeban
Not sure that you can safely vent gas and wood from the same flue- make sure to check that out with someone local who knows their stuff.
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  #3  
Old 08-25-2010, 11:45 AM
NCLee NCLee is offline
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Ditto on getting someone locally to help you who's certified for working with propane.

You may not be able to install a propane fireplace in your basement. I don't know the regs on this, but do know that propane is heavier than air and will settle in low places.

Additionally you may want to check with your insurance company. They're gettting to be real sticklers and will look for anything to void your policy if xyz wasn't done to code and a fire results.

Re: Gas logs - a pipe is run to the fireplace. The gas log assembly is set in place and a connection is made to the incoming gas line. There should be a cut off valve near the fireplace. In theory, it should be simple to close the valve and disconnect to remove the burner assembly. Just have the correct wrenches to disconnect. And, to have leak detector on hand when you re-connect. The person who installs your logs should be able to show you how to disconnect it in case of emergency. He probably will want to reconnect it himself, afterwards.

Since you've heated with fuel oil another option is a GOOD free standing/portable oil heater. Especially if you still have the fuel oil tank in place. Makes it easy to store a quanity of K1.

FWIW, we now heat and cook with propane. Kerosene is one of our backup to propane. Not only for heating with portable heaters (2), we now have 2 oil stoves. And a collection of kerosene lamps and lanterns, too.

Oh, one other thing -- instead of thinking about gas logs, a ventless or vented propane wall mounted heater may be a better option. From what I understand they are much more efficient than the logs. FWIW, my nephew heats a 4 room (not well insulated) home each winter with a centrally located ventless one.

Just some random thoughts that may be useful.
Lee
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Old 08-25-2010, 01:12 PM
mozarkian mozarkian is offline
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Lee, know what you mean about the ventless propane heaters working well. We are re-doing an old 2 story frame house built around 1920. It has a log portion, then was added onto 2 times to the rear, and at some point an upper level was put on. Very drafty, and strangely laid out. We have done a lot of work already, BUT still havent put in central heat and air.

Heat source when we moved in was a 1940's floor furnace. That beast used over 1000 gallons of gas the first winter we lived here. The next winter the thermocoupler went out during the first cold spell and we had to special order the part with a 2-4 week delivery time. For temporary heat we went to Lowe's and purchased a $109 ventless propane heater and installed it near where the floor furnace was located. By the time the part came in we had realized how much less gas we were using for heat and to make a long story short, the thermocoupler has not been installed and we are still using the "temporary heater" with no plans to fix the floor furnace. Last winter I used just a bit less than 300 gallons to heat, and cook and have canned and cooked off that same gas all summer.

We will continue to use this system, until we get our woodfired outdoor furnace and ductwork installed, hopefully next year.
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Old 08-25-2010, 02:08 PM
Anon001 Anon001 is offline
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Fireplaces area a waste of effort for the amount of heat supplied. The propane fireplace may work better BUT.... you mention TEOTWAWKI. How will you run a propane fireplace when there is no supply of propane?

I firmly believe that wood is the best option, especially if you have access to wood. If not, there's always places to find wood to cut.

Paul
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  #6  
Old 08-25-2010, 08:56 PM
nhlivefreeordie Male nhlivefreeordie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulNKS View Post

I firmly believe that wood is the best option, especially if you have access to wood. If not, there's always places to find wood to cut.

Paul
100% agree, you can always find wood to burn, wood stoves these days are much more efficient.
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Old 08-27-2010, 01:11 PM
PastTense PastTense is offline
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"wood stoves these days are much more efficient" When we are talking about power failure (or TEOTWAWKI), my impression was that lots of these stoves require electricity for fans/controls. Can someone clarify?
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Old 08-27-2010, 03:04 PM
nhlivefreeordie Male nhlivefreeordie is offline
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Originally Posted by PastTense View Post
"wood stoves these days are much more efficient" When we are talking about power failure (or TEOTWAWKI), my impression was that lots of these stoves require electricity for fans/controls. Can someone clarify?
Not so, Jotul is a totally non catalytic wood stove that is clean burning, over 75% efficient and requires no electrical source for anything. The only control is a small lever that controls the whole stove. I think you may be talking about a pellet stove which requires electricity for the auger to work. Another reason why wood stoves are better.
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Old 08-27-2010, 03:37 PM
mozarkian mozarkian is offline
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We used to have a freestanding wood stove years ago and had a metal, non- electric fan (think we ordered it thru Lehman's). When the fire was hot enough the fan would blow and circulate the heat. Worked great and was a lifesavor in power outages.
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  #10  
Old 08-27-2010, 04:30 PM
nhlivefreeordie Male nhlivefreeordie is offline
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By my previous post, I didn't mean to imply that Jotul was the only manufacturer that had this, many others do as well. I was just more familiar with Jotul.
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  #11  
Old 08-28-2010, 01:46 PM
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Rayeban Female Rayeban is offline
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Default many thanks

Thank you all for taking the time to read through my post and make replies.

mozarkian - valid point about venting wood and propane through the same flue. I did not do a clear job of explaining that there is one chimney with three flues -two flues for the two wood burning fireplaces and one for the former oil burning furnace.

NCLee - I did not think about the propane density / basement danger; I'll make inquires. The fuel tank for the oil furnace is buried in the back yard next to the house. I'll check the basement for the inlet pipe.

PaulNKS - I was looking at constructing (in a different location for a different building) one of the closed composters that turns human and animal waste into compost and methane. I have no idea if this would produce enough methane to be worthwhile but when TEOTWAWKI happens, perhaps any amount of gas will be helpful.

I will narrow my local searches to propane vs. oil heater. Do any of you have experience/knowledge/opinions about the wood burning inserts that are put in the fireplace opening so wood can be burned efficiently?

Thank you in advance!

Rayeban
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  #12  
Old 08-28-2010, 01:53 PM
nhlivefreeordie Male nhlivefreeordie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rayeban View Post
Thank you all for taking the time to read through my post and make replies.

mozarkian - valid point about venting wood and propane through the same flue. I did not do a clear job of explaining that there is one chimney with three flues -two flues for the two wood burning fireplaces and one for the former oil burning furnace.

NCLee - I did not think about the propane density / basement danger; I'll make inquires. The fuel tank for the oil furnace is buried in the back yard next to the house. I'll check the basement for the inlet pipe.

PaulNKS - I was looking at constructing (in a different location for a different building) one of the closed composters that turns human and animal waste into compost and methane. I have no idea if this would produce enough methane to be worthwhile but when TEOTWAWKI happens, perhaps any amount of gas will be helpful.

I will narrow my local searches to propane vs. oil heater. Do any of you have experience/knowledge/opinions about the wood burning inserts that are put in the fireplace opening so wood can be burned efficiently?

Thank you in advance!

Rayeban
http://www.jotul.com/en-us/wwwjotulus/
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  #13  
Old 09-01-2010, 07:43 AM
Mad_Professor Mad_Professor is offline
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Woodstove in the basement with addition of floor vents (w/doors) to control upward flow of heat. Always have 1 year supply of dry wood.

Nice way to dry out a wet basement too.

P.S. Do you have a way to pump out water if SHTF and no eLEctrical?

P.P.S. Woodrack for basement and chute for basement window to re-fill rack.
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  #14  
Old 07-08-2011, 07:39 PM
warriorwolf47 Male warriorwolf47 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad_Professor View Post
Always have 1 year supply of dry wood.
This right here is what I would think would be #1 priority for anyone using wood for heating/cooking , because just like everything else if the shtf would not wood also be something that would be hoarded ?
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