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Options for heating home if heating system not working

Options
BirchLeaf
BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
edited March 2022 in THE MAIN WALL
If a heating system is not working, during winter in New England, are there options for keeping house, cellar, pipes warm? Can space heaters be used?

Comments

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,090
    Options
    It would depend upon how well your house is wired.
    Do you have screw in plug fuses or circuit breaker switches?

    How many of each of which ever you have?

    It is very easy to overload your circuits.
    BirchLeaf
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
    Options
    @JUGHNE
    I have circuit breaker switches. I count 12 spaces full (each space has 2 on/off switches), plus the main one.
    It's a small home (1167 sq. ft.).
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,090
    edited March 2022
    Options
    So you might have 24 circuits in the house.
    The ones with "20" on the handle are the heavier ones you want to use.
    Only one heater on each 20 amp circuit.....not two!!

    No extensions cords at all allowed.

    How many "20's" do you have?

    And run the heaters on low and do not turn them all the way up.
    Set at max then may never shut off and over heat the cord and your wiring.

    There are a multitude of house and apartment fires each season because of electric space heaters.

    What is wrong with your normal heating system?
    BirchLeaf
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
    edited March 2022
    Options
    @JUGHNE
    My previous gas steam boiler had to be replaced. It was during frigid temps (early Feb.)
    Heating guy installed new steam boiler.
    I'm wondering if I could have gotten through by using space heaters (and being very careful with them).
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
    Options
    @JUGHNE
    I count 11 switches that have "20."
  • Gilmorrie
    Gilmorrie Member Posts: 185
    Options
    It would be good to have an established relationship with a heating contractor - that you can call in the event of an emergency. See if yours can haul out portable space heaters in a pinch.

    For me, the most likely way to lose heating is an electric power outage. For that, a backup generator would be helpful. In our case, we have a portable inverter that can covert DC from a vehicle to AC to power a boiler or furnace. An electrician would have to set up your system to safely allow connecting either an inverter or generator.
    BirchLeaf
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,544
    Options
    It would have been marginal. And expensive. However, you could have selected certain spaces which were going to be kept warm (well, sort of, anyway) partly for your health and partly to keep things from freezing, and provided some space heaters for them. I strongly recommend the variety known as milk house or barn heaters -- they are not expensive, and quite safe (at least as such things go). Will they keep you at 70? Not likely. Will they keep the kitchen and the bathroom above freezing? Probably.

    Don't overlook your fireplace(s) if you have one -- even poorly built ones can do a surprising amount of good, and well built ones can actually provide a lot of space heat, despite what some moderns say. No, they aren't efficient. Yes, they work. Do, however, pay attention to them, and never leave an open, working, fireplace overnight without a very secure screen.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    BirchLeaf
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,090
    Options
    In an older house, even with circuit breakers there may be some marginal wiring which could over heat, especially in the attic.

    Is your boiler heating the house now?
    BirchLeafmattmia2
  • bobbob
    bobbob Member Posts: 70
    Options
    Why not thermostatically-controlled unvented ng or propane heaters? We keep a 30.000 max. btu one right between our two living rooms. Much of the heat wanders up the stairs. Have another down in basement to make sure pipes don't freeze. Need no electricity for them. In late fall and early spring we keep house comfortable and don't have to operate boiler. Have not had a power outage all these years, but in case...
    BTW, have rarely had to crank it up to max output. Nice, continuous radiant heat.
    BirchLeafMikeAmann
  • BirchLeaf
    BirchLeaf Member Posts: 56
    Options
    @JUGHNE
    Yes, the new boiler is working.
    Was just wondering if I could have gotten by with space heaters for awhile when the old boiler stopped working.
  • wmgeorge
    wmgeorge Member Posts: 222
    edited March 2022
    Options
    JUGHNE said:

    In an older house, even with circuit breakers there may be some marginal wiring which could over heat, especially in the attic.

    Is your boiler heating the house now?

    FYI by Code a space heater can draw no more than 12 amps on 115 VAC sure you can plug 2 in on the same breaker, but it will soon trip. Plug fuses can have 30 amp put in or even a penny behind but we are talking about Stupid now. Old plug fuses have been gone for 60 years or more and the Type S were the upgrade before C/Bs.
    Old retired Commercial HVAC/R guy in Iowa. Master electrician.
  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 500
    Options
    I've had good luck with Empire direct vent wall furnaces. They work with natural or propane gas and don't require electricity. 
    wmgeorge