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I Forge Iron

Texan with a cold forge and silent anvil here to lurk and learn


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Lisa is insisting that when we retire, we're going somewhere with minimal winter snow. As the one who does all the shoveling, I'm inclined to agree.

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Don't beat yourself up Chellie, folk who live in cold country make the same mistake. Our well pump has a foot valve that I doubt strongly is available in the warm south, when it's not pumping it allows the water in the line to drain so out buried line won't freeze. There's a check valve in the basement that prevents the well tank from draining. If the power goes out I have to go downstairs and ope the drain valve to drain the water supply in the house. The well and water heater tank are insulated and rated for a few days before freezing. 

Who in Texas needs something like that more than once every century or so? 

About leaving the water trickling on a well. Don't do it for more than a couple days MAX or the constant on off will burn up your pump. Well pump life is measured in switch cycles, not pumping hours, I forget how many, 100,000 maybe? Don't quote me on it. 

I'm feeling for you guys sub zero is tough even if you're prepared for it. 

Colder than Alaska? What part of Alaska, freezing is record cold Ketchikan, or -30 Utqiagvik? (used to be Barrow). Alaska is more than 2x the size of Texas with a Nevada+ left over, LARGE. We sometimes tease Texans about having an economy size state.:P

Frosty The Lucky.

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Had the walk covered with snow twice yesterday; both times the sun came out and cleared it.  Clear and dry this morning.

The Panhandle of Texas sees cold winters and wind across the prairies; Houston not so much.

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If your home is above ground i highly suggest electric pipe heaters. Look kind of lie an extension cord but they wrap around the pipes and when plugged in keep them warm enough not to freeze. Like i said earlier, having to install insulation, heaters, and fix broken pipes, which never break in an easily accessible place, in a crawl space,  has made me make sure i have a basement.  

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Unfortunately there's about zero chance anybody in the frozen south is going to find a generator to make things work right now. I'll bet come next spring there will be a run on isolation switches and back up generators. Maybe I should invest a little in a wood stove store in your neighborhood. 

I'm seeing too many people trying to stay warm with BBQ grill IN THE HOUSE!:o That is bad on so many levels. You can buy a nice wood parlor stove installed in Alaska for about $4,000, makes a little larger one a bargain. We have a Jotul that is super efficient, once warmed up you can't see anything coming out the stack. 

I guess wind turbines weren't designed to handle icing. Maybe not such a good idea to be that dependent on them? 

Watching what's happening to you folk is killing me. I hope you at least have a week or two worth of staple foods stocked up. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thank ya'll for the well wishes and advice,precip has passed and temps are rising. Comparing Texas with Ak and upper mid-west states during weather events (or 75% of life in general) is decieving. A few decades ago,there were lots in common but not so much nowdays.  The average man on the street in Tx today is quite different when it come's to "paddling one's own canoe" and acting responsibly. The main contributor to widespread power outage and failed water supply is an outfit called Ercot ( Electric Reliability Council of Texas ) formed when electric power was deregulated in Texas.  It has come to light they have been neglecting 75% of their duties,such as annual inspections of power plants and grids to assure readiness.  As temps fell,demand rose,wind died,turbies stopped and fossil fuel plants broke down no sooner than put in operation.  Ercot is charged with resposability of managing "rolling blackouts"in cases of emergency.  Nada,when a plant went down,their grid went dead and no plan was in place to rotate power amoungest other plants.  The story about lack of wind turbines causing the problems was a thin coverup that didn't fly. Those turbines have been producing power for years while fossil fuel plants stood idle and fully staffed in case wind died and/or demand spiked.  What is it they say about "follow the money"?  Well here it comes.  Deregulation opened the buying and selling power up similar to day trading on Wall Street.   Turbines and nucular plants are far more expensive to build(tax paid) than fossil fueled but produce KWs much cheaper.  I challenge you to go online as if you were moving to Tx and need to enter contract for power.  It's a shell game and shell games have been con artists go to for centuries.  You decide for yourself if Green Energy is a good deal for consumers or a get rich scheme for the chosen.  Let me see if I can put it delicately regarding what I said about folks from different areas of the country.  I'm Tx born and proud of it but majority rules when it come's putting people in charge.    

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Bill, another major problem is that Texas is not part of either the eastern or western grids in the US electric power system.  So, it is more difficult for the TX utilities to purchase and transfer power from outside the state.  TX may be large but not as large as either grid.  

I did see that breakdowns, etc. in the TX fossil fuel (coal & natural gas) plants amounted to about twice as much lost capacity as that from renewable sources (in TX, mainly wind).

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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My opinion of this whole green energy thing is why not? Why should we not invest in the R&D of ALL sources of energy. I do not see limiting it to only a few as a good idea. 

My kids call me a crazy prepper. But in reality it is how i was raised. We would spend all summer growing crops and raising livestock, then canning and preserving the stuff so that we could eat in the winter. I may not have a mule and 40 acres anymore but i do keep plenty on hand, enough so that i know i will not go hungry for at least 3 months. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around how people can not be prepared. Why do they sell out of generators so fast in places prone to hurricanes? It seems that if you have been through one and lost power for 2 or 3 weeks that would be your priority as soon as possible. But no people wait till the very last minute then get gouged on the price. 

When i was living in Baton Rouge we got about 2" - 3" of snow one day (it melted away by noon) there was guy set up in a parking lot selling snowmobiles. People actually bought them. Just thought that kind of funny.

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Just a careful warning that we're starting to drift closer to the "no politics" guardrail. This is a good discussion, so let's tread lightly.

That said, we do occasionally get blackouts in my part of Ohio, and I've sometimes thought that I could sneak a welder generator purchase into the household budget under the guise of disaster preparedness....

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I didn't have to sneak a welder generator in after the ice storm of 2009 and without power to run the well for 9-10 days. As soon as we were able to get off the mountain, my wife said lets go and get a generator. A couple of years having to switch and alternate what received power during outages she said were getting a larger generator. Now we can run the whole house with it and I still have a portable welded/generator as back up.:)

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Temps continue to rise and a few people are getting power back on.   Look's like it will be in the rearview mirror for some of us but sadly many have property damage,some are still without power and some have lost their lives.  On behalf of not only Tx but other areas hit hard,thank ya'll for your prayers and concern. 

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Glad to hear you're doing alright. We lucked out as the power stayed on even in subzero temps and 8 inches of snow. The only problem we had was the furnace went out last Friday, on the coldest night. The thermal coupling had to be replaced (pilot light wouldn't stay lit) our HVAC guy came out Saturday morning and had it going in no time.

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Looks like the temps are starting to come up which is a relief, hopefully no more people will be lost. I wish it were over though. With so many water lines frozen, things are really going to start going bad as they thaw. Water expands when it freezes and it WILL break the plumbing: steel, copper, plastic, whatever unless you have pex tubing which is not only flexible expands. Pex is designed for in floor radiant heat and won't break when frozen. 

Take a look at the P traps under your sinks and your toilet bowls and the trap under the pot. You don't want to find out it's broken when you flush.

I highly recommend you shut your water off to the house. That way any broken pipes will only drip as they drain and you can have them replaced and repaired with minimal further damage. 

Lawn sprinklers and such are at risk and don't forget the pool plumbing if you have one. There's a good reason you don't see outdoor pools this far north. 

I don't know how deep the ground froze on you but it'll keep going down as the air warms so be prepared for buried lines to freeze and split. 

Like I said I feel deep relief the weather is breaking but I know from experience your trials aren't over by a long shot. 

All of you being effected by this are in my prayers. I wish I could so more than offer advice from my experiences. 

Be well all.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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Coleman makes a gasoline camping / cooking stove that may be worth looking into. 

They also make a gasoline lantern for light that throws off a LOT of heat in the process. 

I would not use them unattended or indoors as they produce CO and CO2 from the burning fuel. 

A nice wood parlor stove installed is good insurance for heat and cooking.  There is usually an abundance of fuel available.  If you can find kerosene, the old time kerosene lanterns still work and produce a lot of light without a whole lot of expense.

A case of MREs should be added to the list, and remember to have the necessary meds and medical first aid supplies in in stock.

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Thanks for the prayers Frosty and everyone else who are doing so. There has been so much tragedy and suffering through this. We haven't had it bad at all compared to a lot of folks. Our water was out for 2 1/2 days and the blackouts weren't bad. Only 2 days of those also. We only lost one baby rabbit, but that is par for the course. Not unusual to lose a couple when you have multiple litters even in good weather. I heard a story about a couple who have a small farm and they put their chickens in the den of their house to keep them from freezing to death. I would have done it as well if it came to that. I know ours didn't come out of the tractor for 3 days. Never seen a time when they wouldn't venture out. Tommies work was closed all week and he found out yesterday they are still going to pay everyone 40 hours. They are really good to their employees. They reached out to everyone to make sure they were ok and offered help if you needed it. I'm thankful he's been home though. I would have been in bad shape trying to do this by myself. Today is supposed to have a high of 42°. Used to, that sounded cold. Now it sounds like heaven to get that warm. My perspective sure has changed. I won't touch the politics behind this, but I sure have an opinion about it. And preparedeness, prepping, whatever you want to call it just got ramped up. We did well with most things, but now have a whole new insight into what else is needed and what to plan for in the future. Thanks for all the great advice you guys are giving to us who have never really had to think about things like this before

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If you cannot find MRE's another way is to buy extra at the grocery. Not all at once but an extra can or 2 of soup, veggies and fruits will build up pretty quick. Get a vacuum sealer and food grade 5 gal. buckets. These can be used to store flour, pasta, grains, cereal, etc. in vacuum sealed bags. A few oxygen absorbers will come in handy also. 

If you plan on freezing get a chest freezer not an upright. Chest style hold cold air in them where the uprights spill the air every time the door is opened. Use that empty space in the freezer by filling gallon jugs with water and putting them inside. This keeps the cold in longer in case of power outages but also when thawed can be used to drink, wash, etc. 

If you do your own canning and do not have enough to fill the canner, fill jars with water and can the water. Again this is a way to store water (pro-tip when storing canned water store it upside down) 

The 2 most important things : 1) do not buy food that you normally would not eat, if you do not like Spam no reason to buy 1000 cans of it just cuase you can store it.  Seems obvious but many make that mistake. 2) do not forget the dog. That includes all the critters, they have to eat also and you will need to plan on their water consumption. 

That just touches on food and water. You may also need fuel, for the vehicles and the generator, lamps, whatever. Also lumber, not a whole lumber yard but a few sheets of plywood and some 2x4s. The house will get a lot colder with no way to board up a broken window. Tools, nails, screws, etc. Also cash, with no power the ATM's do not work.

Do not forget medicines and first aid. I know many of us need our daily dose of whatever we need, me its my blood prssure meds (missed work the last 2 day my BP hit 205/106) Try and keep at least 30 days on hand. 

This was supposed to be quick little snippet about ease of prepping, sorry it turned into a day long read. Hope i helped someone and maybe gave a few ideas to people. 

I am not one of those doomsday preppers just waiting for TEOTWAWKI, but i have been through enough hurricanes, floods, and blizzards to know there may be times when i am cut off for a few days or weeks. 

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Dripping faucets during freezing weather has been parroted so long and often I doubt folks are interested in hearing different but here go's.  Maybe there's one or two out there willing to listen reasons why it's not the best solution. To begin with,if the house is on septic,the system slow's dramaticly and can be easily overwhelmed.  If house is on public sewer,all those dripping faucets put's a strain on treatment plant,not to mention wasting water that is often in short supply during freezing weather.  Turning supply off to house then opening all faucets ,most importantly upstairs and OUTDOORS,can be very effective in preventing busted pipes. There's a chance some faucets will not flow supply is restored next day and temps are still low but those outdoors almost always work and a few indoors so you are not completly without water.  Truth is not having pressure in line when water freeze's seldom result's in busted line.  This theory can be tested by exposing a pipe with ends open full of water to freezing temps.  as freezing water begin's to expand it follow's route of least resistance and you will likly see ice protruding at open end.  PVC is at risk of cracking so we will come back to pvc later.  Taking another step farther lower's risk of busted pipe.  Most hardware stores sell a simple device to test lines for leaks after installation or repair.  It screws onto hose threads as found on outdoor spigots and laundry hose connections,a 125psi guage and a valve stem for air pump,compressor or air tank.   Install device on cold laundry faucet or higest point available on system.  Don't try and blow everything out at once.  Put a few pounds of air in and watch guage psi fall as air pushes water out at low point.  Continue with small bursts of air until no pressure is maintained.   You should be hearing air escaping from highest point when no pressure can be held.  Close high point and continue/repeat.  You are good to go on vacation or rest easy your Deer Valley cabin will be fine in your absence.  Leaving washer disconnected  or a temporary wye make's it simple to do when it must be done a few times before storm is passed.  If anyone's capiable of doing a little plumbing and intrested in setting the house up to where the family can do this in your absence and have access to water in water heater,let me know.  I did it for mom and she used it til she was 93.  

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A couple thoughts: 

Bill, you didn't mention draining or adding antifreeze to toilets.  Antifreeze is probably a bad idea for septic systems and not very good for municipal sewage treatment plants.  Draining the tank is a good idea but emptying the trap/bowl opens the house to sewer gas.  Draining the traps under the sinks is also a good idea.  I have had them freeze and break.

Re. stocking in extra food: A good idea but keep in mind that unless you want to throw it all out at some point in the future you need to have a circulation plan where you use and replace items.  Usually, the FIFO (first in, first out) works to keep things in circulation.  The problem arises when you have "survival" items that you don't normally use day to day, e.g. freeze dried items or large sealed packages.  I suggest that you open, use, and replace them at about 80% of their shelf life.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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My plan with my freeze dried food it pretty much that, use it before the shelf life of 15-25 years lol. Great to use while camping or even a lazy meal when you don't have a lot of time to cook a meal. There's a lot of time to think about that one. I do camping so for me it will get used then and replaced before hand. Before you buy in any bulk remember to actually try the food to see if you even can stand it. In a survival situation I'm sure we'd be less picky but if you like it it's better than if it disgusts you. 

Also for the long term survival food it's like an insurance policy. What's that worth? 

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4 hours ago, Leather Bill said:

Truth is not having pressure in line when water freeze's seldom result's in busted line. 

This is only true for short lengths of pipe. You have to be careful to store iron pipe at enough of an angle water can't collect in it or freezing will split it. Think long flat rack with 1/2" of sag in the middle. In the house any elbow Y or turn will block expansion and it'll split.

Agreed, draining the house dry is the only sure way to protect plumbing from freezing.

Propylene Glycol is much less toxic for animals and your septic system and does a good job of protecting P traps and such. 

This isn't the same situation of course but the bush pilot's moto is survival food should be something you wouldn't eat if it weren't an emergency. Too many pilots have discovered the food they packed had been snacked away. 

Around the home is a different thing of course, good food and rotate it as described is important. More important is having something you can eat when it's cold and dark out.

Frosty The Lucky.

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When you go after the water stored in the hot water tank, turn the electric to the talk OFF so the heating element does not get energized without being covered with water.  Turn on the water first, then open the highest spigot to bleed off any air in the system.  Last thing to do is to then turn on the electric to the water heater after the element if covered with water. 

There are many canned meats available in the stores. Canned hams, canned fish (salmon, sardines etc) and soups.  Rotate your stock so the food is something you can eat when the time comes.  Some cans of fruit and fruit juices are awful tasty when the time comes.

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Glenn,

You can revive some can contents by doing a hot water rinse. Discard the water.

For example canned water chestnuts, and also bamboo shoots revive very nicely after such a treatment.

SLAG.

Frosty,

When at home, during such difficult times,  you can always order in or make reservations.

SLAG.

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One thing we learned is to write the purchase date on canned foods with a magic marker that are in the survival pantry. It's easy to loose track of how long you have had it. Helps with first in first out. Every once in a while we will run across something with a use by date of 2009.:)

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