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Thread: What to do when loss of power

  1. #1

    Default What to do when loss of power

    I was hoping someone could answer this, in regards to, what to do if you lose your power--heat, electricity, due to a winter storm. How can you keep your pipes from freezing? Especially, if their is not another source of heat, ie fireplace, etc.

    Would it be suggested to shut off the main water, and open all the facets?

  2. #2
    In the Trades kordts's Avatar
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    I would rather trickle water from the kitchen sink and lav.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookie
    Would it be suggested to shut off the main water, and open all the facets?
    For a short power loss, do what Kordts suggested.

    For a longer one in very cold weather, it's probably better to turn off the main and drain all the pipes and hot water tank.

    Also, pour antifreeze into the toilets and sink traps.
    Last edited by Verdeboy; 01-02-2007 at 09:47 PM.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default power loss

    Unless the plumbing was designed with draining in mind, and very few are, forget about draining it sufficiently that it will not freeze. There will be pockets of water, usually in the most inconvenient places, that will freeze and possibly break. Running the water periodically to keep its temperature above freezing, or a gradual stream, are the only good assurances that it will not freeze, other than a good generator to restore a modicum of power.

  5. #5

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    I know who did that, nice cookie, thank you.
    Last edited by Cookie; 01-06-2007 at 11:52 PM.

  6. #6
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj
    Running the water periodically to keep its temperature above freezing, or a gradual stream, are the only good assurances that it will not freeze, other than a good generator to restore a modicum of power.
    A small generator is what my wife and I use, as we do not have city water and even a summer storm can knock out the power and leave us with pipes that might just as well be frozen. When the power goes out and we need water and/or heat, we have a simple setup that isolates the house from the utility company and provides power for the refrigerator and either the water pump and a light or two or the furnace and television ... kinda like "Green Acres". But to do that without purchasing a large generator, we can only have a 1/2hp water pump that runs on 120v.

  7. #7

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    A generator would be ideal. But, how can I put this, I have mastered working a microwave, a stove, an oven, a blender, even a salad spinner, but, a generator? I don't think so, I know nothing about them.
    Last edited by Cookie; 01-07-2007 at 12:31 AM.

  8. #8
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Can you use a pull start on a lawn mower? You can buy them with electric (battery) start, or if you want to spend more money, they can automatically start and switch over when the power goes out...just depends on how much you want to spend. The easiest thing is to just plug in the things you want to run into the generator when the time comes. If you want to leave it hooked up and have it switch things (a manual switch is cheapest), you need a transfer switch and to rewire those things you want to power through that switch. In one position, it gets power from the utility company, in teh other, it comes from the generator and never the twain shall meet!

    A small Honda generator is pretty quiet.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Depending on how many things you want to power- say a water pump for the well, the frig,and the heat, verses just a few lights, you could either wire it in, or use a small portable.

    If you want to make it stationary, and automatic, look at natural gas or propane to power it.

    You can get one big enough to power the entire house if you want with automatic switchover, so you'll not even notice when the line power goes out.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  10. #10
    In the Trades kordts's Avatar
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    Around here, 5 grand is probably about right.

  11. #11
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Most of these things are designed to sit outside on a concrete slab - this puts the CO and other exhaust gases outside as well as the sound (which is fairly quiet - similar to an a/c unit).
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  12. #12

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    Well, that could work, if it doesn't need a lot of room on the concrete, if about the size of an AC. That price, Kordts, might be a hinderance. But, the last time, the power went down it cost me a couple of hundred dollars. I will have to keep it in mind.

    At least now, I remember about trickling the water thanks to Kordts. Funny, you forget. The last time it happened, this season infact, I said, to the boys, " what did daddy do?" We couldn't remember. And, the pipes froze. Not good.

    So a thank you to you all, but, Kordts a BIG BIG thank you to you, cause that always worked here before for my husband, and will for me. Last winter they froze twice, yikes.

  13. #13
    DIY Senior Member ToolsRMe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kordts
    Around here, 5 grand is probably about right.
    I used to live in a place where the power went out about four times a year. The first year we moved there the power was out for four days.

    I installed a backup generator and it cost about $2K. I have since moved and still have that portable generator.

    If you want to go "cheap but safe," here's how I did it.

    Figure that a 5000 Watt generator (That's enough for a "Greenacres" sort of thing but enough for emergencies) will run about $600. It's enough to run a refrigerator, furnace electricity, a garage door opener and a few lights.

    Then you NEED a "transfer switch". What this does is isolate the generator from the power provided by the utility. Having the utility power come back on when the generator is running is a nice way to start a massive fire.

    Transfer switches cost in the range of $200 to $500 for a small generator. They have the advantage that you can move power around as you need it. Say, run the refrigerator for an hour and then run power to the furnace to keep the pipes warm.

    Figure that an electrician is going to work about 3 hours to install the transfer switch. So now you're looking at about $1500. Figure another $500 for "odds and ends" (like 30 Amp cables) and some battery powered emergency lights so that you can actually get to the generator and the transfer switch without killing yourself.

    I kept (keep) the generator in the garage. This allows me to start & run the generator in bad weather. Of course, you need to open the garage door; but yo can safely run a small generator for a few seconds (a few minutes?) in a garage in order to get enough power to open the garage door.

    When purchasing a gasoline generator (assuming you go the cheap route), make sure that the tank is large. It's a pain repeatedly filling up a small tank. My tank is 10 gallons. DON'T get a 3.5 gallon tank.

  14. #14
    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    Default generator

    It doesn't have to be gas - as Kordst pointed out - you can get a generator that runs on natural gas or propane. A bit pricier, but it sounds like it might be worth it for you...

    Another option might be to go solar - usually costs a lot to get & install, but check out this option:
    http://renu.citizenre.com/

  15. #15
    Rancher
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookie
    The only thing I don't like is the thought of gas.
    Cookie, you haven't mentioned if you are on natural gas or have propane available, however they make several dual fuel generators out there... I'm not vouching for this brand, however Northern Tool normally stands behind the stuff they sell.

    http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/w...6416_200306416

    This is what I would have if my power went as often, or for as long as yours does.

    Rancher

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