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Ready or Not #91: Alternative Heat Sources

Have you got a backup heat source? That is a really good question to ask yourself. One of the men that I work with had his furnace go out on a Saturday evening and his young family started getting really cold. That happened on a weekend when it snowed, and it was very cold. Fortunately for him, his co-worker and friend, who is also his neighbor, came over and was able to get the furnace to work until Monday when they could get new parts to fix it permanently.

Take note that the friend that worked on the furnace knew exactly what he was doing, and the furnace repair was safe, but the majority of us only think we know what we are doing and we can get ourselves into a serious mess if we make a mistake. My parents owned an apartment that the renters messed around with the furnace, and it actually blew up and burned half of the house and caused smoke damage to the rest of the house. Fortunately, nobody got hurt, but what a mess! Don’t think it can’t happen – I have seen it firsthand.

When I asked my co-worker if he had an alternative heat source he smiled and said. “Yes, my furnace.” After he quit laughing, I asked him again, “Seriously, do you have an alternative heat source?” Still laughing he said, “Yes, my mom’s house.” That is all fine and good and I am sure that mom would fill them full of hot chocolate and yummy things to distract them from their problems for a night or two, but what of the consequences?

What if it wasn’t the furnace that was out, but instead a transformer station that caught on fire, or like several years ago, when an eagle flew into a transformer in Nevada and stopped electrical service to three states for a couple of days. Or do you remember when the electricity went out in half of the states back east a couple of winters ago; mom’s house was just as cold as yours. You really need to have a safe alternative heat source.

Even if you aren’t very concerned about you or your family’s comfort, what about your house’s warmth and comfort? You have got to look at your house like a living organism. Well, not really an organism, but it is susceptible to changes in temperature. If your house gets too cold, there are a couple of really bad things that can start to happen. The first problem is damage to the pipes. Your pipes will freeze and split and then, when the house warms up again, you will have water damage in quite a few places – behind walls and other inconvenient places.

The other more obvious and very difficult problem to fix is when the sheet rock shrinks and causes your walls to crack where they applied the sheet rock mud. With all of the fancy texturing that we put on our walls these days, it will make it difficult to fix.

When it comes down to it, it is just all around easier to have an alternative heating source and avoid all of the potential problems, including that of being miserably cold. If you want to really warm somebody’s heart, just give them a backup propane heater, or a kerosene heater or even better yet, a generator to run an electric heater, your freezer, and refrigerator as a Christmas present. I know that if I got a Christmas gift like that it would make me happy.

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