Emergency Heat Options When Your Furnace Gives Up The Fight

13 August 2015
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It's easy to overlook the need for essential repairs or put off a much needed replacement when it concerns an out of sight appliance like your furnace. This can only go on for so long before the inevitable failure of your home's heat will require you to give it much needed attention. If you find yourself in such a predicament it's essential that you have some way to generate heat while you wait on the HVAC contractor, who can't arrive fast enough.

Quick and Simple

In a pinch, there's a good chance you have some items already lying around your house that can stave off the winter chill for a few critical hours. This might buy you time to find a more permanent solution, or make arrangement for alternate lodging with friends, family or at a local hotel. In the right setting, with the right materials and ideal preparation, some homemade heaters can even provide sufficient supplemental heat to carry you through until a fix is in place.

If you have rubbing alcohol, a roll of toilet paper, a large soup or vegetable can and a paint can you can make a rather effective emergency heat source. Remove the cardboard tube from the inside of the toilet paper and squeeze it into the smaller can. Make sure the paint can has been cleaned of any trace of paint that might burn and create noxious fumes and place the smaller can inside. Finally, soak the toilet paper with the rubbing alcohol. The alcohol will burn, using the tissue as a wick, and cast considerable heat over a small area for a few hours.

Prior Planning Required

With more time to prepare for the unexpected you can cobble together a startlingly effective heater for a meager investment and with very low fuel costs. It's a bit more intricate, but the pay off will allow you to heat a larger space and avoid a costly hotel stay on top of the price of a new furnace or major HVAC repair. You'll need at least two bricks, a supply of tea light candles, one large and one small unsealed clay pot, three to four popsicle sticks or other flat pieces of wood and a used bread pan.

The tea light heater is a common sight in off-campus housing near colleges, and starts with positioning the bricks so that they're central enough to provide good circulation of heat without being in the way. Place the bread pan so that it spans the bricks and is stable, then lay the wood pieces across the width of the bread pan to create a platform. Position two to four tea lights on the wooden platform you've built and light them, then cover them with the smaller clay pot and plug its drainage hole. Cover the smaller pot with the larger one and your heater is complete.

Emergency heat sources can offer you a great way to stay warm in your house while you wait for heater repairs during an unplanned loss of your HVAC. With the right planning for such an eventuality you can assemble more than one and remain relatively comfortable for the duration.