As the winter and cold is coming, this is a continuation of the post from last week. I hate being too cold, so I guess this is why I am so concerned with heat. So remember, any device that burns fuel must be vented outside the house — both to eliminate smoke and gas and to provide oxygen for combustion.
Altering regular heating systems
Minor alterations to regular heating systems might be considered: Because automatic heating systems are often dependent upon electricity, you might wish to consider an emergency generator to provide power for full operation. This applies only to fossil-fueled systems with pumps, blowers, circulators, fuel injectors, electric ignition and thermostats. Electrically operated valves in many steam or hot air systems can often be operated manually. Hot air systems, depending on installation, are capable of providing limited heat without a blower. A coal-burning furnace can be fired the old fashioned way — with a shovel. Most small electrical generators supply only very limited power and are inadequate for heating a home. Sometimes another type of fuel can be burned in a heating system. For example, wood can be used in a coal furnace. Get to know the capabilities and options of your primary heating system. If it can function at least partially in an emergency, it is your best heat source.
Providing vents and flues
Install a “thimble,” (a metal pipe which is inserted through the side of the chimney into the flue) to allow a stove hookup or space heater. If the heating device will be connected only during an emergency, fit the thimble with a metal or asbestos cap to cover the hole. Note: Chimney flues are designed to accommodate a single heating device at a time. Using more than one heating device at the same time on the same flue may result in smoke damage and improper burning of the fuel. If your auxiliary heating unit is to remain attached to the flue being used by the furnace, fireplace, or other burner, it should be fitted with a damper which will close off the device. Gas flues, which are usually smaller and lighter, cannot safely accommodate oil, coal or wood burners. Gas devices, however, can be hooked to oil, coal or wood flues. Some fireplaces are designed for appearance, not for heating ability. If yours doesn’t heat well, plug the throat with a piece of sheet metal with a hole cut for a stove pipe. In an emergency, a stove or heater can be set on the hearth. Stoves are better, more efficient heat producers than fireplaces. Conventional masonry fireplaces are often not efficient producers of heat and may take more heat from a room than they put in. Heat circulating or “heatilator” fireplaces are much more efficient. Their ease of installation may offset their initial higher cost when compared with construction of conventional masonry fireplaces. Also, a glass-doored, heat-circulating fireplace with special outside air inlets makes a satisfactory heater that can use wood, coal and other combustibles. If your present chimney cannot be used with an auxiliary heating system, consider installing a prefabricated chimney for use with your alternate source of heat.
Using other fuels
If oil is your emergency heating fuel and you have an oil furnace, install a drain cock or valve in the fuel line to draw oil from the tank. A siphon hose might be used if the tank has an access plug. An emergency generator to run your primary heating system will involve special wiring. Ask an electrician for advice. If gas is the standby fuel, be sure to have proper fittings, tubing and tools on hand for a quick, safe hookup or changeover. Heat pumps, similar to air conditioners, can supply considerable amounts of heat under certain conditions. They may be practical for your situation as a source of heat which requires only electricity. There is considerable heat in well water, which is usually at least 50 degrees F, in the northern states. Depending on the water depth, this may be an efficient source of heat. The heat pump removes heat from the water and transfers it to the home. In warmer areas heat can be removed from outside air. Your local heating or air conditioning contractor can help you decide if a heat pump is practical for your situation.
Hope this is helpful, #3 will be next week.