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#247587 - 06/27/12 07:27 PM Last year, the power was out for up to 13 days...
MartinFocazio Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2155
Loc: Bucks County PA
Where I'm the Emergency Management Coordinator, tropical storm Irene knocked out an absurd number of key transmission lines in the area, requiring epic levels of effort to simply get to them to restore power.

For about half of our residents, the power was out for 4 days, the rest in varying amounts with about 20 homes out for 13 days. We were out for 9 days.

Here's what I learned:

- Don't ever use the "standby" mode of a generator when you hook it to a refrigerator. It turned out that the low voltage combined with low current draw of our "super-hyper-amazingly-efficient" refrigerator led to a slow suicide of the compressor and controller CPU. That was a $1,400 mistake.

- Ethanol is very, very bad for older gas equipment. The day before the storm hit, I went out, tested the generator, it started up fine. I checked everything. Then, in the middle of the night, the power was out, we got a call that a dam broke in the town across the river, trees were snapping left and right - and I decided to have a look at the water level in the sump. It was about 1/4" below the top! So I bailed out some into a big rubbermaid tote, and then went to start the generator...hundreds of pulls, starter fluid and all that, and eventually it ran. Long story short - some seals in the motor were ruined by ethanol. They would have died eventually, but unlike my usual routing, when I did the test run the day before, I didn't run out the fuel in the system. This was just enough to finally kill things. I had the generator updated with new, ethanol-proof seals and gaskets, but don't trust a 12 year old motor with any ethanol in it.

- Hot water heaters are very well insulated. We have an electric hot water heater. The water in there stayed bath-warm for 6 days! We never connected it to the generator (it's too light-duty for that kind of load.

- LED lamps are fantastic. They are bright and draw next to nothing - I had a few LED light bulbs and they really work well and kept the lights on.

This year, we're more ready but I still don't have a backup power source for my sump pump. The pit and plumbing will NOT accomodate a second pump, I really need to knuckle down and buy that 1500W invertor with integral transfer switch and just do it already.

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#247601 - 06/28/12 12:13 AM Re: Last year, the power was out for up to 13 days... [Re: MartinFocazio]
powerring Offline
Newbie

Registered: 04/25/08
Posts: 32
Great info! Both the generator and ethanol stories will save someone a lot of money and heartache. I also recommend the LED lights.

A couple of years ago we were without power for several days due to unusually heavy snowfall and cold temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic. We were reasonably well prepared with food, blankets, batteries, radios, lights, etc. The family ended up spending a lot of time near the gas-driven fireplace. I think the best lesson that I learned from that was to use space blankets to cover entry ways and windows to thermoregulate the living area. For just a few dollars, we were driving the temperature in the room to around 70 F by reflecting the heat.

This week, temperatures are supposed to be over 100 here and we're using the same space blankets (packed away in a big zip-lock last time) to keep some of the heat out. It works pretty well.

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#247614 - 06/28/12 03:25 AM Re: Last year, the power was out for up to 13 days... [Re: MartinFocazio]
LesSnyder Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1637
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
if you are looking for other power out suggestons... from the 05 hurricane season..

battery powered 12v tent fans with power cord to run on 12v car battery makes sleeping possible... you need a wind up alarm if you are working

solid frozen 1 gal jugs of water still have ice at day 3 in a Coleman Xtreme 5day cooler... even if the cooler is opened daily

8" digital portable TV will keep some normalcy to evening entertainment...listening to the BBC in the glow of a Dietz lantern brings back visions of the "Blitz"

cooking on a grill rather than a camp stove makes clean up easier

shaving is not easy by the light of a kerosine lamp

citronella candle or torch fuel makes outside dining more pleasant

if you board up... a good portable drill/driver is invaluable... use the TorX headed screws

your shooting ear plugs allow sleep even with the noise of your neighbors generator, and you can still hear the alarm clock

your chain saw will not start, but the pruning saw on a long pole works pretty well

a 1/4" chain hooked to a John Deere lawn mower can move a lot of downed limbs

you go to bed a lot earlier

stay safe

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#247628 - 06/28/12 02:23 PM Re: Last year, the power was out for up to 13 days... [Re: MartinFocazio]
GoatRider Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/28/04
Posts: 835
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
Even if the seals in the generator can take ethanol, it's still not a good idea to use it in a small engine that you don't use very often. Ethanol/gas mix absorbs moisture and degrades quickly, within a few months, and gums up the carburator. It helps to use fuel stabilizer, but it helps even more if you can get ethanol-free gas.
_________________________
- Benton

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#247631 - 06/28/12 02:42 PM Re: Last year, the power was out for up to 13 days... [Re: MartinFocazio]
Mark_F Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 714
Loc: Kentucky
Wow, up to 13 days or more without power? That certainly puts a lot of emphasis on better home preparedness. Makes me glad we don't live in earthquake, tornado, or hurricane prone areas. Our biggest threats here are heavy snows in winter and bad thunderstorms the rest of the year taking down trees and limbs that take out the power lines. Longest I ever recall us being without power was a little over 24 hours during the snowstorm of 2009 . Makes me glad we live on the main road. Still, there's always a chance it could last much longer for one reason or another so always a good idea to be prepared with extra food, water and other emergency supplies. A lot of good info here, and i especially like the tip about using the silver mylar blankets over the windows from powerring. We are expecting 100 degree plus today, and while the office here is nice and cool, at home things could be quite different.
_________________________
Uh ... does anyone have a match?

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#247823 - 07/01/12 05:06 PM Re: Last year, the power was out for up to 13 days... [Re: Mark_F]
powerring Offline
Newbie

Registered: 04/25/08
Posts: 32
Originally Posted By: Mark_Frantom
A lot of good info here, and i especially like the tip about using the silver mylar blankets over the windows from powerring. We are expecting 100 degree plus today, and while the office here is nice and cool, at home things could be quite different.


Thanks. Some of the cheaper silver mylar blankets I have are not completely opaque so they do transmit some natural light. This is actually useful if you like a little sunlight streaming through. We placed all but one on the back side with southern exposure since the northern side has a porch with overhang. This is a good thing since you don't want the neighbors thinking you're running a disco. As a practical matter, the house maxed at 76 F yesterday with a local temperature of 101 F. I feel like it gets us a few degrees cooler and reduces the load on our heat pump.

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