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Your Furnace Just Died, Whats Your Back Up?

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Garand69, Feb 22, 2016.

  1. Garand69

    Garand69 Monkey Site Supporter+

    attention mods: I posted this on another forum back in January, if reposting is not allowed let me know, I am the original author. It started a good conversation there, so I brought it here.
    Thanks. G69

    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). Both of these heaters are non-electric.

    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
    Amazon.com - Sengoku CV-2230 KeroHeat Convection 23, 000-BTU Portable Kerosene Heater -

    Non-electric vent free gas heater (mine is the same but unfortunately not dual fuel)
    Product: ProCom Vent-Free Dual Fuel Blue Flame Wall Heater — 30,000 BTU, Model# MNSD300TBA
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
    Motomom34 and kellory like this.
  2. chimo

    chimo the few, the proud, the jarhead monkey crowd Site Supporter+

    My wood-burning stove is piped into the same heating ducts as our gas furnance. I've also got a propane convection heater in the barn, a Big Buddy propane heater for use wherever and a propane furnace in my little trailer.
    Garand69 likes this.
  3. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Natural gas wall furnace in the largest room of the house, propane buddy heaters, several electric space heaters.
    There's a second larger natural gas wall furnace waiting to be installed.
    When I swap them out, the smaller one will go to the basement to protect the
    water pipes.
    Garand69 likes this.
  4. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    I only use wood stove ,the only electricity involved is if I want to circulate the heat through out the house with a fan that works off my battery/solar/wind mill, system .
    Garand69 likes this.
  5. Flight-ER-Doc

    Flight-ER-Doc Monkey

    We have forced air gas, with a gas freestanding fireplace - both are wired into the standby generator, fueled by propane. If the propane goes out we have another, portable diesel generator that we can plug in, and a smaller gasoline engine generator. Finally, we have a wood burning stove in the family room, which is super-insulated (R-30 walls, R-20 floor, R-60 roof, triple pane windows) and have heavy drapes to cover the windows and doors.

    If that doesn't work, we have an RV kept ready to go to Florida.
    Garand69 and kellory like this.
  6. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Since I generate ALL my own Power, (2 ea. Identical Diesel Gensets) and our CookStove (Same Diesel Fuel) heats the Cabin, as well as making ALL our Domestic Hot Water, we are covered... and then we have a Wood Burning Stove in the Front Room, that is used as a supplemental Heat Supply, when it gets below 25F, outside... Our Cabin, was built in 1908, and has been rebuilt/added on to, numerous times, since, but still isn't the best in Insulation qualities... We get allong just fine...
    Garand69 and VisuTrac like this.
  7. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    It's been cold here in Hawaii. Been wanting to put pants on, and socks and maybe even a jacket. Been in the 50's overnight and feels cold when the wet wind is cranking.

    I know you folks up north are scoffing and laughing. But cold humid wind is biting. Once I went to Las Vegas and the Bay Area in January. Vegas was 20 degrees and the Bay Area was 40. I was much colder in the Bay Area. The wet wind...

    I'll warm up doing qigong and taiji. And I can still hear you laughing... :whistle:
    Garand69, Gator 45/70 and oldawg like this.
  8. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter

    If my heater stops working it would mean I got lazy and didn't bring in enough fire wood for the week.. That wouldn't happen! That why I have a day off from work..
    Garand69 and chelloveck like this.
  9. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    All of our national parks are tied up with MAB (Man and Biosphere) and have been since late 70's

    World Network of Biosphere Reserves in Europe and North America
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Under UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme, there are currently 297 biosphere reserves recognized as part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in Europe and North America. These are distributed across 36 countries in the region</Europe & North America | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization>.
  10. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    We have HVAC that we use for AC. When it's cold we burn wood with an insert. The insert heats the masonry fireplace and keeps the whole upstairs warm. The bedroom is the farthest away and it's 63-65 depending on how cold it is outside. The basement is heated with propane.
    chelloveck and Garand69 like this.
  11. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    Kerosun heaters, Wood burning stove 115kv generator to back up power for electric quartz heaters, electric blankets, etc....
    chelloveck and Garand69 like this.
  12. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    What is this furnace you speak of?
    We heat our house with 2 wood burning inserts.
    My back up to those is wood burning sauna stove
    and it's back up is a wood burning down draft top loading diamond plate stove off in the corner waiting to be put into service if the time comes.

    After that, I'm kinda screwed.
    Garand69, Tully Mars and kellory like this.
  13. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey Site Supporter+

    Well, gensets back up the furnace. After that, wall mounted propane heaters, then the fireplace and kerso room heaters.
    After that the cats will be getting nervous...
    Garand69 likes this.
  14. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey++

    I rarely have to worry about freezing temperatures here on the beach, but a couple years ago we had sustained lows in the teens with highs reaching just above freezing for about a week. This combination turned my heat pump into a very pretty but quite useless white lump of ice. Unwilling to run the emergency heat, which is about as efficient as a giant toaster, I fired up two Aladdin 23 mantle lamps. By closing everything off except the center of the house and kitchen I was easily able to get that area above 60 with two running, and maintained mid 50 degree temps with one even when it was 16 degrees outside. This was quite comfortable for me since we usually maintain around 62 in the house in the winter. This alternative heat requirement went on for three days, by which time I discovered that tea light candles inside the heat pump, with a trash can lid over the top would defrost the unit after several hours.
    Garand69 likes this.
  15. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    My backup to the current heating system I have is Jack Daniels.

    If you're gonna freeze, might as well have a drink to lighten the mood. Wrap up in a wool blankey and cry yourself to sleep. Hey, the children of Soviet Russia in the 30's and 40's had it worse than we will probably ever know. What? You can make it until the repairman shows up the next day.

    Okay, okay. So maybe we might have an electric heater or two. Also, maybe a wood stove for those anticipated, long SHTF moments. Lots of tinder and newspaper pucks, Duraflame logs, and fatwood. But I still think Jack Daniels is my first choice. Hmmpf.
  16. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Brokor's Preps.... 3 Cases of JD ....[violin][peep]
    chelloveck and Garand69 like this.
  17. Garand69

    Garand69 Monkey Site Supporter+

    Great replies all (y) I have several 100# propane tanks that are full, I just need to do some research and find out how I can make the ventless gas heater I have dual fuel. When I bought it it was an either or proposition, but now it seems they are all capable of running on nat. gas or propane. If I buy the house, a wood stove will be on the short list to aquire.

    Why I oughtta... :cautious::D
    Hanzo likes this.
  18. techsar

    techsar Monkey++

    Wood is our primary heat source, but we have 2 spare stoves along with stove pipe in storage. Also have a kerosene stove, propane heaters, and a couple of Rochester store lamps that put out enough heat to do double duty.
    Smoke and CO detectors are a must ;)
    ETA: almost forgot...we do have an electric space heater, but it is run more for testing it still works than heating
    Ganado and Garand69 like this.
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