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Dealing with power outages-lessons learned?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Badfish740, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. colebrookman

    colebrookman Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Middlefield, Ma
    Don't worry once the casino comes in (if ever) they won't allow the power to go out. lol Be safe.
    Ed

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  2. EJL923

    EJL923 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
    Messages:
    465
    Loc:
    Western Mass
    Seige, im right next door in Ware. For me, it s too late to panic about a generator. Its a pain, but im getting by. I have been wanting to install a transfer switch etc for a while, i think this will give me a boot in the arss when everything becomes readily available. I just dont trust anybody to take care of their equipment, especially something they purchased for an emergency just to run the heck out of it. If it was a screaming deal, then maybe.
  3. dswitham

    dswitham Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Messages:
    62
    Loc:
    western ME
    One of the few things I like about the house we are in is that our water supply doesn't depend on power. Our house is supplied by a gravity fed spring, no pump required. And our septic isn't pumped so no worries there on that end. I suppose if there was a problem with the septic we could always use the old outhouse in the shed. :sick:

    We keep plenty of food on hand to last a couple of weeks. We can cook on top of the fireview or the gas stove. Coffee is supplied by keeping a percolator on hand that we use when camping.

    We do want to get a generator to run the inflation fan for the greenhouse and to keep the fridge and freezers going.

    We only lost power for a few hours during this last storm, due to one of our oak trees taking out the power line. :shut:
  4. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    1,313
    Loc:
    Milton GA
    Losing power is becoming a frequent thing in NNJ. I will be buying a generator soon.

    Here's what we do:

    Before the storm hits, we fill our bath tubs. The one in the MBR is a big soaker and holds alot. The well runs on electric so we lose water too when the power goes out. This way we can take a bucket to fill the tank and flush, brush our teeth, and wash up.

    We make sure we have plenty of candles and flash lights. I also buy Baby wipes. After shoveling all the snow, it was nice to clean up.

    We use our propane grill to cook with. It has a side burner so we can heat up stuff.

    Plenty of free wood heat,

    All the food goes into coolers and we are good to go.

    So my tip is baby wipes, candles, and fill the tubs before the storm.
  5. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2009
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    8,426
    Loc:
    So Cent ALASKA
    So I guess it would be out of the realm of possibilities, to add" check on your neighbors" to the list. LOL :lol:
    I know you guys are a tough bunch, what would youns do to a home with a "Steelers banner" in the front yard? Fill their "cellar" with ashes or just "huck a louey" at him .
    Waddaya think'n, Everything is going to be "oaotay", since most of youns must all be real posh. I bet you rarely drink from a bubbler, or have to mess with rubbish & have a TV in the parlor.
    I may be a "leaf peeper" some day. But I'll just be passing thru.
    Don't burn anymore witches, use the wood for your stoves.
    Yall got a good sense of humor & are pretty wicked crowd. :)
    I hope all the power is back up. I worry about the "lower 48 crowd"
  6. colebrookman

    colebrookman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2008
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    776
    Loc:
    Middlefield, Ma
    Fresh batteries for the smoke and Co detectors. People are ignoring the beeping of low batteries to their detriment and even death. Be safe.
    Ed
  7. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    While we are at it, use that Kill-A-Watt meter you bought to find stray power usage in the house to set the speed on your generator to make sure the volt output is 120.
  8. seige101

    seige101 Minister of Fire

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    Mar 25, 2008
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    Loc:
    Palmer, MA
    I am an electrician by trade, give you a heck of a good deal to install a generator panel when things are back to normal around here. I plan on doing the same my self.
  9. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    Hamilton, IL
    One thing I learned from my last power outage is that I plan on running the genny ASAP. Last time I assumed that i could just wait and if it stayed off for so long that I worried about the stuff in the freezer and fridge then I would get one going. Well, a couple of hours went by and then i got the generators going, but the moisture caused frost buildup and was a pita. Even my self defrosting freezer (the one on the fridge) had too much frost on it to take care of itself when the power did come back on. Food was never at risk, but the hassle would have been worth the few bucks in gas.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Can't believe this thread has gotten this far without the mention of toilet paper. Have plenty on hand along with batteries and emergency candles. I really like LED lanterns and the 5 day oil candles. I also keep a couple tarps and a couple 10x25 rolls of plastic on hand. You never know it a limb is going to poke a hole in your roof or a window blows out. Worst case scenario you may be making yourself a temporary shelter.
  11. colebrookman

    colebrookman Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Middlefield, Ma
    +1 on those LED lanterns BeGreen. Some even come with a night light switch and the batteries last a long time. Be safe.
    Ed
  12. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Sand Lake, NY
    I don't recall reading about filling the bathtubs before the storm. Also, the probe from a simple outdoor thermometer can be placed inside the fridge or freezer before the storm hits.
  13. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    Hamilton, IL
    I like that idea about the probe. Lets you tell the temp without opening up. very nice.
  14. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    1,445
    Does anyone know if there are units out there that allow multiple probes? I have one that I have used to make sure my chest freezer was working properly, but then I don't know what the temp is outside or in my fridge for that matter. I'd rather not buy two more of them.
  15. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    Hamilton, IL
    I'm interested in knowing as well. I looked for something last year because I wanted a master station that could have a handful of sensors to monitor temps in many different rooms of my house. Either I didn't find one, or they were wayyyy outta my price range.
  16. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    Well since my wife is a Steelers fan and I'm a Pats fan . . . I guess I wouldn't do anything too mean. ;) :) Needless to say she was quite happy on Sunday . . . I was a bit disappointed.
  17. metalsped

    metalsped Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2011
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    Loc:
    Quabbin Woods
    I see I have some 'neighbors' here on the forum (I live in Hardwick, MA and work in Palmer). We lost juice on Sat afternoon, and got it back last night around 6. Thank god my father has a generator, and plenty of space to take the wife and our young daughters. It couldnt have happened at a worse time too... we lost our oil furnace a few weeks back, and there is no heating system currently in the house (past these space heaters which are making the national grid meter sound like a jet turbine). I believe we will get our new heating system in the first two days of this coming week.

    To the heart of the question of this thread.... I will be inheriting my dads 5000 w honda generator this spring I figure, when he finally sets his Kohler bigboy in place (propane fired). After this storm, I really think more than ever, that we need a wood stove in this house.
  18. jimbom

    jimbom Combustion Analyzer

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    Loc:
    Missouri Ozarks
    Be careful. That is what started me back with wood. When we set up an emergency backup heat wood stove system in the basement, we found ourselves gathered around that stove during the testing, shake down month.

    Based on that, we decided to take out a fireplace that we did not use and put in a nice wood stove in the family-dining-kitchen room. Turns out that easily heats the whole house. So now I am thinning the woodlot and heating the house. All because some ice storms and tornadoes brought home to us the folly of always relying on the electric grid for our needs.

    It takes a while for us as we are funds constrained, but eventually we found a great buy on a nice stove in good condition that came with everything from the chimney cap on down. At the end of this heating season, we will break even financially, the physical exercise is good for me, and the forest where I have cut looks great.

    So for us, easing back into wood heat has been a good thing on several levels. Quite frankly, had it not been for those on this forum willing to share their knowledge, it may never had happened for us. I have learned so much and am so thankful.
  19. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    I will never ever ever be without the option for wood heat again. (never say never, right?) even if I was handicapped to the point I had to pay for the wood, I would do so for the reassurance that I could use it in an emergency.
  20. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    media, pa
    my 2 comments to amplify the above
    1) before you fill your bathtub with water, put masking tape over the drain! Even when closed, mine has a slow leak that would empty it in a day or 2 (leaks down the drain, not onto the floor or underneath)

    2)!!!! If it is a rainstorm, START YOUR GENERATOR RIGHT AWAY!!!!! My sump has been dry for about 3 years, when the hurricane rolled through, we lost power and 30 min later the water alarm in the basement went off, water was rushing out of the sump pit! (It was dry when power went off 30 min before, I can hear when the sump pump runs). So i wont be taking any chances from now on. If rain is coming down, and power goes out, I am going straight to the generator.

    3) test the sump pump before the storm to make sure that it still works (I bring in the hose)
  21. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    I hear you about the tub. Last time we filled them up, one of the plugs did leak, and we replaced it.
  22. Fi-Q

    Fi-Q Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Bonaventure, Quebec
    The house is still getting build, 3 yar after foundation was poored. Working on the road, not home too often. But when stori g the rv in the yard, i always fill up he 2 x 30 lbs propane bottle , and i have an adapter , so i can use a coleman stove on the big bottle. I have 2 generators and always have 2 x 5 gallons gas can and 2 diesel can on hands. We haven t ran out of power in 3 years now, but, we always better be well prepaired. I have a good back up plan in mind ( 12v well pump, lister generator, solar panel, ect....) but haven t had the time to get the plan going yet, need to finish he house first..... One thing at a time..... But with burning wood and my 300$ champion genny we can get by for a while. There is a gas station around the corner who is as well a fuel/ gas diatributor. They have PLENTY of fuel / gas and a genny to run the pumps in a power outage
  23. colebrookman

    colebrookman Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Middlefield, Ma
    We use a direct vent propane heater if we are away in winter. If and when I can't handle wood we are going to add another propane heater. Not as cheap as wood but it works when power is out. If you go this way make sure to get one with a pilot light and that it does not have a power vent. Also if you buy a new gas stove for cooking be aware that some have a safety that shuts the gas line when power goes out, useless. Re. most gas stations in our area were without power leaving people to travel dangerous roads only to find either long lines at the few that had power or they were sold out of fuel. Boston politicians are now thinking of a law making generators mandatory at gas stations. Be safe.
    Ed
  24. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    5,236
    Loc:
    Croton-on-Hudson, suburbs of NYC
    I learned that with the wood stove, gas stove top, town water, candles, flashlights, and LED headlights we can run the house on only one extension cord from the neighbor's genny. My other neighbor (licensed electrician) added a tail with male plug out of the box that powers the furnace. With that one cord, I was able to cycle between the two refrigerators, and run the propane furnace for hot water as needed. I kept one floor lamp in the kitchen and had an extension cord with a multi tap handy to charge phone and laptop batteries. I would say that we were in pretty good shape with this setup. It was a PIA, but we were warm, had hot water, and could cook unspoiled food. There were some problems though. We have Verizon Fios phone, tv, and internet. After about 8 hours the battery on the box that converts the fiber signal to the copper wires in the house died. No phone. I was able to recharge it when I sent power to the furnace and downstairs fridge, but it took a long time to get enough charge for it to hold for more than an hour or two. The other problem was that my 19 yo son was having a very hard time dealing with no computer, internet, music etc. Next time I'll get some power to his room sooner so he doesn't lose his mind. I'll also have to reconfigure things so that I can keep the internet going in the house. I could probably do it again with the one 20 amp line from the neighbor if I put a little more thought into my power distribution, but I'd like to have my own genny and be a little more self sufficient. I also think the family would be happier with a less hands on system. Being able to run only one appliance at a time and manually switching power distribution did not come as naturally to them as it it did me. here's picture of the "power distribution center".

    Attached Files:

  25. willworkforwood

    willworkforwood Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    Messages:
    459
    Loc:
    Central Ma
    After being without power for 6 days during the ice storm we had here in 2008, I said never again and installed a Reliance transfer switch/sub-panel and an outdoor receptacle. I ended up pulling practically every circuit out of the main panel, in order to get at the ones actually being moved over - a real PITA, and lots of time spent to get the job done. I figured that would guarantee never again being without power for more than a few hours ;-). Well, wrong again - the storm last Saturday took us out for 4 days (many are currently still out). The B&S 5550/8550 did really well, and it made me thankful to have done the work and grateful to see it work exactly as planned. Although I tested everything after the install, there was one "lesson" learned from the 4 days of continuous use. I knew from testing that my wood boiler controller wasn't happy with the quality of power (harmonic distortion) from the B&S, and had already decided in advance to run the oil burner instead - a minor irritation and no big deal for an occasional outage. But over the course of the 4 days, I became aware that other "things" were happening as well. The first indicator was the microwave not going to full power. And then I noticed that when the microwave was on, the sound of the oil burner motor changed pitch when it was running at the same time. I thought that was my imagination, but a few on/off tests showed it happened all the time. So what I'm doing now is trying to find out if there is any information about the effect on motors of non-inverted power. Haven't found anything really good yet - most everything is wishy-washy generic disclaimers. Does anyone know of a scientific study of the effect of various generators on motor life? There is some flexibility in when and how much various appliances are run, and it would be nice to know if it would be better to run some things (such as a microwave) less or not at all.

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