Resourceful Ways To Deal With Heating System Failures

Posted on: 30 April 2015

Even the most well-insulated home can quickly cool down to an uncomfortable or even unsafe level when the heating system fails due to a power outage or repair issue. Although you hope this will not happen, being prepared for the possibility is an excellent way to ensure that your family is kept safe when frigid winter weather arrives. If the lack of heat will only be for a few hours, taking a few precautions such as keeping exterior doors closed, pulling the drapes and gathering together in one area of the home may be all that is necessary. However, if you believe your home will be without heat for more than a few hours, it is wise to immediately take action to keep your family as comfortable as possible. 

Create an Emergency Warming Kit 

Gathering a few inexpensive supplies and compiling an easy-to-store warming kit is the first step in maintaining your family's level of comfort when the main heat source is unavailable for any reason. To do this, purchase or find a sturdy, covered container such as an inexpensive 18-gallon plastic tote box or even an old drink cooler, if you have one. Make sure that the interior is clean and dry, then purchase and store the following items inside: 

  • 2 tarps that measure 6' x 8' or 8 x 10' 
  • a roll of duct tape
  • a roll of plastic sheeting
  • 2 emergency candles designed to burn for at least 100 hours and safe containers to use them in, such as clean tin cans that are filled with sand 
  • waterproof, safety matches
  • a flash light and a package of fresh batteries

Printout a list of phone numbers for any emergency services, friends or family members you may need to make contact with and tape it securely to the underside of the lid so that it is always easy to find during a heating failure or power outage. Make sure you also include contact information for the power company, gas company and a heating repair service like A Bailey Plumbing.

Choose Your Location

Once you have assembled your emergency warming kit, you will need to have a dedicated place in which to use it. Tour your home and choose a room that typically stays warm and draft free under normal conditions, such as an interior family room, living or dining room. If your cooking appliances will still be functional without electricity, such as a gas cook top or oven, your kitchen may be the best room in which to gather your family during a heating or power outage. 

The room you choose should have few windows, standard height ceilings and door ways that can be easily sealed with tarps. In addition, there should be enough floor space to allow comfortable seating and sleeping arrangements to be made. Unneeded furnishings can be quickly moved into an adjoining room, before sealing the door, if necessary. 

Putting the Plan into Action

When a power outage or heating failure occurs and you have reason to believe it will last more than a few hours, it is time to put your plan into action by following these steps. 

  • have the family immediately change into layers of warm clothing, including hats to maintain personal body heat 
  • bring the warming emergency kit, along with bedding and pillows to the pre-selected room 
  • rearrange or remove furnishing to create a workable space
  • use the tarps and duct tape to seal the doors of the room 
  • use the plastic sheeting and duct tape to cover vents, windows and unused fireplaces 
  • position the emergency candles in the cans of sand and place them in a safe location at each end of the space to create light and add to the warmth of the room

Prevention is Best

While a power outage is usually beyond your control as a customer of your electricity supplier, it is possible to prevent many heating system failures. If you are unfamiliar with the components of your system or have not been diligent about having it serviced regularly, ask a reputable heating repair service specialist to assess and evaluate your system and provide you with an estimate of its expected life span and information about any potential issues they find. Then follow through with a comprehensive maintenance schedule to help make sure that you will never actually need to use your emergency warming kit or plans.