One of the biggest problems associated with a loss of electrical power isn’t the loss of our televisions and computers; it’s the loss of heat. Home heating is all controlled electronically, so without electricity, it doesn’t work. Even gas heat or hot water heat won’t work, as electricity is needed for the blowers and pumps these systems use.
Because of that, most preppers plan on heating with wood, should they ever be faced with a long-term power outage. While that may work for some people, the problem is that most homes don’t have a fireplace. Wood is the preferred method of emergency heating for many preppers. Not only has it stood the test of time, but wood is usually fairly easy to harvest and is plentiful in many parts of the country. The one problem is that many homes don’t have a fireplace of wood-burning stove installed for such an emergency. Adding in a fireplace is a fairly expensive home remodeling project, one that many people can’t afford to undertake.
Installing a wood-burning stove can be considerably easier than installing a fireplace. They are also much more efficient, as the metal casing of the stove allows more of the heat to radiate into the room, rather than go up the chimney. They can also be installed on a temporary basis, in the case of an emergency.
If you are using a wood-burning stove for emergencies, you want to be sure that you buy one that uses wood and not wood pellets. The wood pellet ones are more efficient, producing more heat per pound of wood than the others. However, you can’t use them with normal firewood. When you run out of pellets, you freeze.
Preparing a Place for the Stove
Before bringing a wood-burning stove into your home, you have to prepare a place for it. Wood burning stoves will often drop hot sparks on the floor, so if you don’t have a proper place for it, you are creating a fire hazard.
For emergency heat, a wood-burning stove can be installed on a temporary basis. All that is needed is the stove, chimney pipe with an elbow, a piece of plywood and a convenient window. The stove can be placed close to the window and the chimney run out through an opening made in the window by removing one of the glass panes. The extra space in the window can be closed up with plywood.
That means preparing an area that’s about four foot square. You need a fireproof floor in that area, especially in front of the door. This could either be a ceramic tile floor or a firebrick floor. Ceramic tile could be installed over a plywood base, to make a temporary fireproof floor that will be removable later. Just make sure none of the plywood is exposed.
You also want to make sure that all flammable materials, such as furniture will be kept at least a foot away from the sides of the wood-burning stove. This is necessary to avoid the potential of spontaneous combustion from the heat that the stove gives off.
Your stove will do the best job of heating your home if it is in the center of the room, but this may not be practical for your home. At a minimum, make sure that it is at least a foot away from the wall, just like the furniture. If you have it, cover the wall behind it with sheet aluminum to act as a heat reflector.
Dealing with the Chimney
The hardest part of installing a wood-burning stove is normally the chimney. Typically, you have to put a hole in any upper floors, as well as the roof. Finding room to do this can be a serious problem, as most houses don’t have extra space available for things like this.
However, for your temporary installation you can cheat. Instead of running the chimney out through the roof, you can run it out through a window. They actually did this sometimes in the 1800s, at times, running the chimney pipe all the way across a room and allowing it to radiate heat that whole distance.
The chimney pipe must continue rising upwards from the stove to the end of the chimney. So, if you have to put a 90 degree elbow into it, to get to the window, make the angle a bit more than the 90 degrees, so that the chimney pipe will continue rising. As long as it does that, the smoke should flow out of the stove fine and not fill your house with smoke.
In order to put the chimney through the window, you’ll need to remove a piece of glass. The extra space will need to be filled, preferably with aluminum flashing, so that the hole is sealed off and the wind can’t come through. Although aluminum is an excellent heat conductor, it should radiate it into the cold outdoor air, preventing the heat from ever reaching the edges of the flashing and affecting the window frame around it.
Getting the Most Out of Your Wood-Burning Stove
In such a situation, you’re not going to be able to heat your whole home. Instead, you’ll need to install the wood-burning stove into a large room which you will use as a multi-purpose room. If there are no doors to block off the rest of the house, hang blankets over the doorways to block off the cold air and help keep the warm air in the room you are using.
In olden times, most pioneer homes were built as one large room, with a loft. The children would sleep in the loft, which was the warmest part of the house. The main room would be both living room and kitchen, as well as having the couple’s bed off to one side. This made these homes much easier to heat in the winter, off of one fireplace or wood-burning stove. That’s what you’re going to have to attempt to reproduce in an emergency so that your whole family can keep warm.