Winter temperatures can vary from mild to frigid. A weather pattern known as a Polar Vortex sweeps arctic temperatures into regions that otherwise have relatively mild winters. Furnaces that have parts ready to fail are most likely to quit right when they are needed the most. Infrastructure such as public utilities and furnace fuel deliveries may be compromised or delayed due to the cold. However, if the heat does go out, there are ways to survive it.
Relocate to Another Place
This is the most obvious choice, and the survival is now all about the home without heat. Knight Plumbing recommends shutting off the water at the main water valve, and then opening both a cold and hot water faucet at the lowest and highest points in the home to allow the water to drain from the pipes. This will prevent broken water pipes if temperatures in the home drop below freezing. If a home is expected to go without heat for longer than a day in freezing temperatures, shutting off and draining the hot water heater along with draining water from toilets and P-traps is also necessary.
Stay in One Room
Choose a comfortable room in the interior of the house, preferably one that does not have walls that are outside walls of the house. Temporarily tack up a blanket over open passageways or keep the door closed. Prepare the room for sleeping with sleeping bags and plenty of blankets. Have everyone in the family sleep in the same room. Do not leave any space heater operating when everyone is asleep. The combined body heat of everyone being in a room closed off from the rest of the house provides a significant amount of warmth.
Use Space Heaters Safely
First and foremost, it is important to read and heed every detail of manufacturer instructions for any space heater. In fact, it is good to reread space heater owner’s manuals each season they are used. No space heater is inherently safe. They can catch nearby objects on fire. Space heaters themselves can fail and catch fire. Fossil fuel burning space heaters are a potential source of lethal carbon monoxide poisoning. If space heaters are used, an awake person should be in each room where they are used, and only those completely familiar with their functions should refuel or operate them.
Develop a Relationship With a Heating Repair Company
Heating installation and repair companies get swamped with calls when the temperatures take a nosedive. The longer the cold snap lasts, the more calls come in. An already established customer is going to go to the top of the list for service calls. It is easy to develop a relationship with a company by having annual inspections of heating equipment performed. This also greatly reduces the likelihood of the furnace being the cause of the heat going out in the first place.
Have a Permanently Installed Alternate Heat Source
Those who live in arctic climates where temperatures routinely drop to dangerous levels in the winter have a backup heat source permanently installed in their homes. During times that the public utilities are functional and the main furnace is functional, the backup heat source serves in a supplementary capacity. If the main furnace fails or if the fuel supply to the main furnace fails, the backup heat source then becomes the primary method of heating the home. Backup heat sources for homes typically use a completely different fuel source than the primary furnace. For example, homes heated by natural gas may have a wood burning stove installed as an alternate heat source.
When the heat goes out, it is imperative for everyone to think about staying safe. The winter season is the prime season for residential fires. Many are caused by careless mistakes made with space heaters or attempts to thaw frozen pipes. Prior preparation makes surviving the loss of a primary heat source easy to bear. Calling a professional Calgary plumber if pipes do freeze is also much better than homeowners attempting to thaw them on their own.
Karleia is a freelance blogger. Away from the office she enjoys spending time with her daughters and husband.