Monday, February 22, 2021

Anno Glacio

The post title?  I'll be frank.  Events from 2,021 years ago seem to be more recent than events that have taken place a week before yesterday.  At that point, I had shut down my computer without having given my post the normal goings over to correct spelling, punctuations (me and commas, mortal enemies) as well as plain making sense.  The cause?  Power was going off every couple of minutes and then returning within seconds.  Fortunately, Sarge did the final edit for which I am grateful.

Happier times...two weeks ago.  

Same trees a few days later.  

I guess I needed animal entrails or something to predict the future.  What I thought the problem was (a problem with our local electric coop, and what actually was the problem ( folks probably know what that actually was but here's a pretty good explanation) were universes apart.  Suffice it to say, around noon, the power went off and stayed off.

We're located in the bottom left red dot

The first indication of trouble bigger than just a short power outage was the well to our new house froze and we had no water.  Yeah, been meaning to build a well house, but that project never made it to Priority 1.  Well...(No pun intended) it is now.  Even with that well inop though, we were in ok shape as we had our original well still working.  We just had to schlep water from our old house.  Noon on Sunday, electric power went off, unfortunately, so did that well.

Thinking about this one.

Lesson learned #1.  You need water.  Lots of it, much more than you think.  For example, we learned it takes about a gallon and a half to wash 13 meals worth of dishes.  Lesson learned #1.1. Buy paper plates, disposable glasses and coffee cups.  Keep them in the pantry...just in case.

Takes another gallon to flush a toilet.  We learned the saying "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." during a drought in Okinawa.  However, old habits are hard to break, especially when you stumble into the bathroom at 3AM to do your business.  Put the seat down, hit the handle. It's a conditioned motor response.  My wife taught me well.  

On a side note, try walking into a dark room and not flipping the switch.  Can't be done!

Lesson learned #2.  Wells need electricity.  Electricity needs a backup source.  I think that's the lesson learned by the largest number of people affected by this circumstance.  Evidence to support that assertion? I had to go to Lowe's yesterday to get some PVC for a project I'll describe later.  As I walked from my truck to the door, I passed a total of four people walking out of the store, all pushing a cart with a generator on it.  I've got one, but hadn't used it in a few years, so, some repair is needed. I'll also be looking at some alternate energy options for backup power. Thoughts, suggestions and expert opinions welcome.

Lesson learned #3.  In this information age, information requires electric power.  Now is not the time to be playing "Bloons" on your iPad or reading on your Kindle app.  (I re-read all three of Ed Rasimus' books, the hardback ones.  Lots of nodding of my head and thinking "Been there, done that", well except for the combat.) No, your cell and battery powered devices are for communicating with agencies that are trying to help and family or friends that need help or can help etc.  Minor lesson learned #3.1.  A land line is a must have.  However, a cordless landline is essentially an uncharged cell phone when the power goes out.  Ask me how I know.  Lesson learned #3.2.  Those battery powered car jump start things ?  Get one.  You'll get about 6 completely dead cell phone recharges out of one charge on it.  Again,  ask me how I know.  

Lesson learned #4.  Flashlights.  Buy more.  Those little ones that fit in your pocket and take a couple of AAA batteries?  So worth it.  

Cooking a meal after dark on a gas stove became possible with a magnet and a flashlight

Lesson learned #5.  I am SO glad we went with a gas stovetop.  The electric starter didn't work, but a lighter worked just fine.  A warm, familiar meal can do wonders for morale, and believe me, morale is important when the power and water have been off for 4 days and the Electric Coop's website still says, "We're working the problem and expect resolution within 12 -24 hours." For the fourth day in a row.  Having a gas stove also allowed us to melt snow to use to flush toilets. 

Lesson learned #6. Sanitation.  Holy cow, that's difficult without water.  I'm not sure we did it right, but we're still here, so maybe.  The grocery store had had a sale a couple of weeks ago, offering 70% Isopropyl alcohol bottles for $1 a piece.  Since I have to take a shot every day, I'm always using it, so I bought 5.  Turns out, a paper towel dampened with a bit of rubbing alcohol, does a pretty good job of cleaning any germs on your hands after you've washed them in questionable water. 

The short downward connecting pipe is the culprit

Lesson learned #7.  At some point, power is going to come back on.  You won't be notified, it'll just happen.  One should be prepared for that.  Remember, a week ago, when the power went off and we lost power to the functioning well's pump?  Well, the power came back on mid week.  I'm feeling pretty happy. The heat has come back on and I'm thinking "we just may make it through this." Then, my cell phone rings, it's one of my neighbors.  "Juvat, you've got water running down the street. I've shut off power to the well."  I drive up to the well house, (Wind chill is still in the negative teens, yeah I know some of you would be in Shorts and Tees, blah, blah, blah).Sure enough, water is flowing out of the old well's well house and running down the street.  I open the door of the well house to see what's going on and don't see anything wrong.  Reach over and reset the circuit breakers and water starts flowing out of the PVC pipe connecting the pressure tank to the water line.  Pull the breakers again and realize we're not going to have any water for a while.  So, the lesson?  At the first indication you've lost power to the well, pull the circuit breakers to the pump.  Water will most likely freeze in the pipes.  When power is restored, if you haven't pulled the circuit breakers, the pump will start immediately and because the water can't flow, pressure will build until something gives.  In my case I think it was only the PVC.  I'll find out Thursday if there's more damage when the first available well guy shows up.

Lesson learned #8.  Patience and a sense of humor will get you through in an episode of this magnitude. By Monday morning, I've got no water whatsoever. Calling plumbers for help fixing the above incident was frustrating.  Nobody answered their phone.  I finally found someone who was using a service to handle calls for them.  I explained my problem to the service and ended my description with "I know every well in the state is out right now, but I'd appreciate a call to tell me whether I'll be scheduled in July or August for help."  She laughed.  About an hour later, I got a call from the plumber.  I ask him about the new well and ask if I should pull power to it, as it's starting to get warm.  He say yes.  We chat for a bit about the old well's issues.  I then ask him about when he's going to be available, prefacing it with "I know you're busy, but I've given my Financial Adviser Daughter your phone number because you're fixing to be a wealthy man, so...when do you think you'll be available?"  "Would the 25th work for you?  I'll call you earlier if there are any cancellations."  Thank you, Lord!

Grocery store got it's first resupply trucks Sunday morning.  It had been looking like a grocery store in the old Soviet Union back in the day.  Whole aisles with absolutely nothing on them.  Went to Lowes yesterday for a couple of PVC connectors.  Surprisingly (ok not), the plumbing aisle looked like the food fight in "Animal House".  But the old well had provided water for the horses.  With it out of commission, and the weather warming, I needed to get water for them from the new well.  A trough from Tractor Supply, a hose to the working tap on the new house, a float valve and Voila', water for the horses.  Yes, Beans, the intent is to turn off the water, and unscrew the hose in the evening so the water in it doesn't freeze.  Further, we'll ditch and put a pipe in to have a more reliable solution.  Baby Steps, you know.

Hopefully inside the horse barn will help it stay liquid longer.

Ran into one of the school nurses while at the grocery store Sunday morning.  Her husband is a supervisor for the electric coop.  She said he's now on day 8 of 16 hour shifts.  That's hard even without crappy weather.  She also said that 7 new crews arrived last night and 16 more were expected today, so the tide's turning.  However, there are only so many poles available.  She also said he'd advised some folks they knew in the northwest corner of the county not to expect power until next month.  It's that bad.

Therefore, I'd highly recommend folks, even bartenders turned congressmen,  not talk about the "Green New Deal" in Texas right now.  It might cause them to require dental care.  

As a perfect example of The Lord's Sense of Humor, that was the temperature one week later. Pretty close to 100o warmer!


  1. Wow. And not in the good way.

    Talk to the plumber/well guy about putting in a couple of low point drain valves during the repairs.

    Our portable generator is a bit more than 30 years old, and during one of the twice a year test runs it was leaking fuel. The aged fuel lines were deteriorating and needed a wholesale replacement.

    I see the crack in the line you mentioned, and I also noticed that the section of discharge piping downstream of the pressure switch and located at the right side middle of the photo looks to also have a large crack in it.

    Take care, and as you said, patience and a sense of humor indeed.

    1. I was supposed to add, "But I hope I'm wrong about seeing the crack."
      I had succumbed once again to FCE (First Comment Excitement) also known as, PPS (Premature Publishing Syndrome)

    2. Low Point drain valves...on the pressure tank or where?

      Good eye on that second crack. The only place I saw water coming out was from the one in the center of the picture, But the well is rated at 40 GPM and water was going everywhere, so I was not predisposed to take a good long look around. I will certainly bring it to the well guy's attention though.

    3. No worries, John. That's never happened to me before. Well...since week before last anyhow.

    4. Low point drains on the low point of the system. From well to pressure tank, from pressure tank to where it goes into the ground. See if there's a drain on the pressure tank. Use all three. Mark them. Anywhere you have a low point that isn't under a slab or under ground.

      They also make those screw-on sections where you can just remove a section of pipe, though I prefer a decent valve. Definitely talk to the plumber and see what he recommends.

    5. juvat. What Beans says, and also talk about plumbing in a fitting so the system can be blown clear by using compressed air, or whether the exhaust of a shop vac would provide enough pressure to do the job.
      But both of those solutions require electricity, and a gravity drain doesn't.
      Other commenters mentioned several field expedient repairs, and a couple of cycles through USS Buttercup damage control training gave me first hand experience on fixing sizable leaks with rubber sheets and twine wrapping.
      Keeping the wet stuff out of the dry part of the ship is a very big deal!

    6. I can see why that would be important on a ship, John

  2. Good to hear all the two-legged and four-legged critters survived, was wondering how events unfolded for you folks since Sarge posted your power loss. Lessons learned during a looooonng power outage, thanks for posting those juvat. I bought a bunch of cheap China made single AA flashlights and put one in each room in the house, later cut down on the alkaline batteries because of increased leakage problems even in the packaging. Using Lithium and re-chargeable batteries instead. Always, always carry one of the Streamlights in my EDC. Last power outage here the landline phone was out, still keeping the landline though if cell service goes down for whatever reason, there's another phone around. Portable solar cell from a place like Goal Zero helps also. Good article about the power collapse to post juvat, as for supplies remember two is one and one is none. A valuable post to read, thank you.

    1. Thank you! Both the Flashlight recommendation and the Solar Panel site are going to be visited thoroughly very shortly. Very good Info.

    2. Streamlight ProTac in either 2AA or 2AAA...ya I know China made but they've held up for me since 2001, good size to fill shirt or pants pockets. I ALWAYS have one on me, year round. If I were in my thirties I might have gone with Surefire for a rifle weapon light but the ProTac Long Gun Lights were what I chose. As to water storage perhaps a glance at the site reveals 10L and 20L water cans, 35 to 45 bucks, have several of these myself, there are other choices. Best of luck juvat.

  3. (Don McCollor)...Glad you made it!. Words of advice from a MN/ND climate. Heat/power goes off and the temperature drops. Shut the water (and water heater) off NOW!. Drain everything down as best you can. And conserve your battery power like Apollo 13...

    1. Yep, That's been tattoo'd on my forehead backwards to I can read it in the mirror every morning. Along with "You don't need it, til you need it...Then you need it BAD!"

  4. Gravy, I didn't realize how different it is down here compared to where I grew up in Lubbock county. We had a purpose built well house, not very insulated but it was stucco covered and had a gas heater in it. No pvc either. We had things freeze once in a while, but not normally, no matter the temps. In winter of 76-77 we sailed through two weeks straight lower than 20 degrees as I remmeber . One New Years our gas line froze at the ground where it came up into the meter. I learned how to thaw a gas line that day. I didn't realize how valuable that experience was.

    Consumer generators run at 3600 rpm, and commercial stuff used to run at 1800 rpm. I'd go with the lower speed if you can find it. Wiring an emergency switch into the panel, siting the genset, and it's fuel supply are all important considerations. Off the shelf is expensive and will probably be in demand going forward. Buying a gen head and fabbing up a 3 point hitch setup for a tractor sounds good to me. I'm working on that idea now. I'm about done trusting "the authorities" to have any cogent thoughts about anything.

    I'm glad you guys made it so far. I was hoping you'd dodged the worst of the fallout.

    1. Thanks, STxAR. I remember that winter. I was a Senior at Tech. Walking between buildings in Class A uniforms but no parkas (the ROTC detachment didn't have any because....Texas!) was especially bracing. Prepped me for my first operational assignment in Korea. Not a biv fan of cold weather anymore.

      Thanks for the generator info.

      You and I are of like mind vis a vis "the authorities".


    2. If I had your email, I'd send it there.
      One of the first I found...

    3. Sarge can give you my email, if you send him yours. Thanks

  5. Glad you're on the improving side of the mess, juvat. Was in a couple of long power outages in Indiana and Ohio in the mid-late 70's, they were no fun given the cold. More recent experience with hurricanes here in NC have shown they are no fun in hot weather either. Makes you realize how vulnerable we'd be to an EMP weapon...

    1. It does make you appreciate things, for sure. We're a lot more vulnerable to a lot of things than we believe. Some of which are our own doing.

  6. You are probably already aware of this, but if you have a backup generator to supply power you'll also need a cut-off installed to separate your place from the power grid. Then, when the power goes out, throw the switch before starting the generator.

    1. I did not realize that, so thanks. I think my first phase here is to get the portable generator fixed or replaced. Then, I can respond to some outages somewhat. A larger generator may follow depending on cost and capability. Gotta think that one through quite a bit more.

    2. What Frank said. Every year Linemen are killed not because of the powerplants energizing the grid but because someone's house is energizing it.

      They sell actual cut-off switches, and 'pull' breakers (like what you find on your outside AC box) but at the minimum switching off the whole house breaker on your panel is a good idea.

  7. Can't go wrong with a professionally installed "Whole house" generator, preferably fueled by natural gas. We had one installed (yes, they cost $, bur really worth it) several years back and have never regretted it.The company keeps the device maintained as part of the contract. It tests itself weekly.

    1. If I may ask, what's the company's name. As I said to Frank, I'm just starting the information gathering phase.

    2. I was going to bring up the WHG, preferably fueled by natural gas, and it's own tank if possible, as you just experienced how well alternative sources work in snowy or rainy weather.

      Sure, a battery wall like what Tesla sells works, until the power goes out long enough and the snow and ice and clouds cover up the solar panels.

      If you have solar, that's a once-a-month constant maintenance and daily monitor to make sure everything is ricky-ticky.

      Whole house gen? Just warn everyone and flip off the supply breaker...

    3. My company is Dynamo Electric (original huh?)and they are great. Also local. They install the (Generac) generator, automatic switch and switchboard mods; and maintain them on contract. You can size the generator to meet your desired needs, from just the basics (Heat/ac, house sockets, microwave and (in your case) pump right to to power everything). Been flawless for us through several outages.

    4. Beans,
      We've already got the propane tank for the stove and fireplace, so that's one part of the problem. Gonna look into the other side further. I'm thinking several dollar signs are going to be involved.

  8. A few days ago I passed on to FB friends in Texas picture and description of a temporary plumbing repair. The man used a section of radiator hose (from an auto parts store) and two hose clamps after cutting out the section of burst pipe. Bet cutting the pipe wasn't a lot of fun. A 24 hour survival candle with a clay flower pot over it will keep a small space above freezing. Too late now for these tips but Murphy says if you are well prepared you won't need your preparations.

    1. I hadn't thought about that option. There is (was) a heat lamp in there with a temperature sensing switch. Unfortunately, with no power...

      I'll keep your suggestion in mind. Thanks

  9. I recommend you keep a piezo electric spark igniter that is used to light gas fireplaces. That is what we used down here to light our propane stove while the power was out over several days. Remember two is one, one is none so keep a spare on the shelf somewhere. Also, HEB sells 3 gallon plastic water jugs. We have 20 of those stashed away with water in them so that we have a backup source that will keep us going for a short while. I only had one burst pipe here but fortunately it was outside the house. Still no fun to repair in below freezing temperatures! Best of luck to you on all of your repairs! - Barry

    1. Thanks Barry. My sister works the HEB here. Had a Culligan guy go through her line. She asked him about water, we picked up 25 gallons that afternoon. Going to build that up over time to about 50 gallons (10 jugs), then start cycling through them. Glad you got through mostly unscathed.

  10. Juvat, I feel your pain. You have a basic idea where I live about 40 miles south of you near Bandera. Our well house stayed good. We lost power about 0530 on Monday last and had the portable generator going abut 1200 or just after. The heat lamp I put in the well house did its job along with the heat that was store in our water softner salt tank.

    As to backup power, we bought an 8 KW gas/propane portable generator last fall. I second Frank's suggestion for a whole house back up unit. I had to go through a lot of contortions to get things set up so that we could power our well and part of our house; but it worked and we had some water available along with emergency propane heat. While I expect this weather to be an uncommon issue, we will probably upgrade some things here just in case and be more prepared in the future as the push to "green", "renewable" energy will only make things worse. While it was problematic being isolated from the national grid, I hope that these yahoos in Washington D.C. don't try to force Texas to join.

    My wife and I went to the Walmart in Helotes and the nearby HEB in San Antonio this past Friday. Walmart resembled the pictures I used to see back in the 70's and 80's of grocery stores in the Soviet Union. The shelves were nearly empty with the meat, dairy coolers, cheese, fresh vegetable, water and bread shelves close to or completely empty. My wife saw a woman who had a look of both anger and frustration and my wife heard her say "What am I going to eat". The HEB was better but still had some bare spots.

    1. Yeah, our HEB was pretty much cleaned out, until I-10 re-opened. Gasoline was a problem also. Fortunately I have some stored in the barn. I was planning to use that when I got back from town yesterday as I was down to about 100 miles til empty. Fortunately, the gas stations were open again.

      I'm with you on the upgrading some things. Just takes that "money" thing, doesn't it?

  11. So. Whole house generator, others and I have talked about it, it's the only way to go.

    Solar panels are easily attacked by flying debris during storms, and are subject to icing, snowing, dusting, leaves. It's amazing how just a little amount of smudge or smut or cover will drop your efficiency. And any battery bank decent enough to provide decent power will require, as I said, monthly maintenance on all the connections, constant monitoring of the equipment to make sure it's working etc. And the batteries on decent solar systems are expensive, either lead-acids or lithium types (and if you get lithium batteries, don't put them in your house. Separate structure away from the house. Why? Well, lithium cells can set themselves on fire...)

    As to power supplies. Only needed if the whole house genny goes Tango Uniform. But you can charge good ones from your WHG, so one or two would be nice, plus provide power out back where there isn't any.

    Get those LED camper lanterns as a backup. The ones you see advertised at 4am or so. Pull the top half up and the lantern comes on. Sit on a table or hang it or some come with magnetic bases. Very handy. Verrry handy.

    If your area is ventilated okay and you want light and heat? Good old Coleman propane lantern. An excellent choice.

    The shed is a great idea. Put some 1" or 2" foam insulation on the inside and wire up an incandescent light off your WHG. And then don't open the door unless you have to.

    As to water storage. Yeah... Modern houses aren't built with cisterns anymore (thank God, major source of disease and disease carrying insects back in the day) but you can get a couple clean barrels and set up a cistern in your garage or utility room. Fill them from house, have the water on tap, rotate about every 6 months or use some sort of chlorine tab or something. Fancy barrels will be set up a foot or two off the floor and have a tap in the bottom for to get water. And Walmart sells their Sams Choice drinking water in 20oz bottles, 28 to a case, a case goes for $4.00 or less. Always good to have a few of those around. Rotate your stock.

    Clothing? Even the mighty Beans himself will put on socks with his sandals, wear a pair of sweat pants, sweatshirt and comfy camo jacket hoodie with an arming cap for to keep me ears warm when it goes around freezing or lower. Haven't experienced negative temps yes. Don't wanna experience negative temps ever.

    Glad you all survived.

    And, yes, the Green Nude Eel is a sucky thing. Give me nukes! NUKE! NUUUUKES!!!

    1. At the coldest point, I had two pair of socks on under my insulated boots, Long johns, jeans, T-shirt, two sweat shirts, a down vest and an insulated long sleeve coat. Unfortunately, my hat is somewhere in an as yet to be unpacked box, so that was a source of discomfort, trying to make do with a ball cap. But, we made it through.

      Yeah, I think there's going to be a lot less talking about renewable energy in Texas for a while. Or at least I hope so.

  12. Makes you respect XIX century pioneers who made do with wind-powered wells (have you seen them on all the westerns...), wood-fueled stoves and kerosene lamps.
    Seems both Republicans and Democrats in their respective strongholds of California and Texas were too busy with howling culture wars tham with actual governance such as keeping power on.

    1. We still have many wind-powered water pumps here in Colorado. Same basic desic as 100 years ago. They work, and don't require a power source.

      Those old farmers were pretty smart people!

    2. Pawel,
      Wind mills are a common sight around here. There's one at the 3/4 mile point on my walking route. Might have to look into that.

    3. Dr J, They become quite a bit more common the further west and north one goes in Texas. But then, that's where the wind is. Course it's also where the wind generators are.

    4. If you're looking at windmills for pumping water that's old hat. I had a neighbor running a very small highspeed one that kept his house off the grid entirely. It looks like something that would work as an emergency stopgap in a place like Texas. Sailing offshore to Mexico we had a single solar panel and it did for the lighting and HF radio. Of course, there was just the two of us and with one on the helm, sleep called pretty damned loudly when one went below. Those other guys are way smarter than me but I bought the half-dozen at a time for $6.99 one cell pocket flashlights and now they're everywhere with rechargeable batteries plus the small solar panels for emergency recharge. (We'll both go crazy if our kindles run out of juice). Glad you all made it through. I'd expect nothing less.

    5. Oh, the small highspeed windmill about a yard across powered his house.

    6. Sailing offshore to Mexico sounds pretty good right about now, Cap'n. Thanks

    7. Given the details of this particular storm, I think we'd have ended up just like the energy companies. Lots of ice the first couple of days. That having been said, there are other reasons for power outages, and that wind generator might fit the bill. Again, thanks.

  13. We were lucky here in our little cul-de-sac in DFW, never lost power. That said--

    Our daughter and hubby live 20 minutes away (dry roads) in Mansfield. She is (was) expecting our first grandchild, and scheduled to check into the hospital on Saturday (2/13) to be induced on Sunday. My wife is going to house sit for them along with their one year old female Corgi and their cat. Anticipating onset of weather, I drop my wife off at their house on Friday. All is well until 4:30 a.m. Sunday when their power goes out. Nice.

    Now the roads are iced up. Daughter has been induced, but things are progressing at a stately pace. She is worried about wife and I being out on icy roads, so hubby (former USMC) bails hospital for their house, picks my wife and the Corgi (cat is on her own) and brings them to our house. We have a cat too, a Calico (cat redhead) female, very territorial. Oh joy. Actually, that part worked out OK. The two of them agreed to disagree. Bit of a juggle at feeding time, and new for us bundling up to take Corgi (Miss Molly) out in back yard in 4 inches of snow so she can do her business.

    Daughter wound up having a C-section. Both doing fine. His name shall be Logan (Wolverine!). I think it was Monday hubby went to check on their house, is standing at the kitchen sink when he hears a hissing noise, then water running. Goes outside and sees water running out from base of outside wall. He shuts off house water. What a stroke of luck he was standing there when it blew. Turns out is was the hot water line under the sink in the upstairs bathroom over the kitchen. Soonest plumber he can find is March.

    Fortunately, they have had work done in the past by our contractor, Rex. Man is worth his weight in gold. Hubby calls him. Rex is on a job, but at a good stopping point, and comes over THAT DAY and caps the line so they can turn water back on for the house.

    Along about that time, our water pressure began to drop. City (Arlington) put out a boil water order. The freeze blew up the water system. Literally hundreds of calls for emergency shut off. Homes, businesses, fire suppression systems, you name it. Think trying to fill a colander with water.

    In the end, all is well. Water is on, power is on (and we are on a fixed rate plan locked for three years) everyone is home safe, and we have held our first grandchild.

    1. RHT, First, Congratulations on a Grandchild! Glad things went well. I'm sure there was a bit of concern going on during the process. Also glad things went well vis a vis the weather.

    2. RHT, congratulations on the grandson!

      I used to live in Arlington TX about a mile south of the airport from 1988 to 1998. I had an electric problem in the Freeze of 89 when it got down to 0 degrees F and the transformer could not handle the six houses with electric heat that were connected to it. But there were never any water problems then.

  14. You made it through and learned a number of lessons. All of those things CAN be corrected. That is good, and I'm glad y'all are okay. We got lucky up here, managed to keep power/water on (gotta love small town Texas). But we were ready for whatever came.

    1. I'd rather be lucky than good. Luck is more reliable.

      Glad you and the gang got through it all right.

  15. RHT: Congrats on the first grandkiddo!!!

    juvet: Yes, it is impossible to walk into a room and not flip the light switch---even when holding a flashlight in your hand---don't ask how I know...just don't.

    Not sure what is trending in TX, but in upstate NY and in MI, Generac generators were popular. We always had a little Honda portable generator for camping, and for when the power went out. Upgraded to a bigger one after the tornado went through and we were out of power for a week. It was in November, but still chilly.

    But I would say the first thing to do--after getting a well house--is to get the generator you have fixed. Then, get a shut-off switch installed so ya don't blow some poor lineman's socks off, and swear right-hand-to-God to never put any gas into the portable generator except "rec gas" or some other non-corn gas as the ethanol eats the O rings, and like on the Challenger, the outcome is not good. When my husband whined about the cost, I pointed out that he could buy a LOT of non-ethanol gas for what it cost to have the carburetor/engine fixed on a yearly basis. I think it was $80 the last time I had to have it done, and then I listened to the nice service man and only bought ethanol free gas and since then the lawn mower, snow blower, chain saws worked just fine.

    The other thing when running ANY generator is to realize your generator will not replace your power company's system. Get one that will run the well,the sump pump,the furnace, and a fridge/freezer, and a few strings of LED lights. For a few hours (like 1-2 on then 3-4 off). If it is freezing cold outside, and freezing cold in the don't need to throw out your food, because when you lost power your fridge turned into the biggest cooler in your house. I saw some chick on TV saying she needed to throw out all the food in the fridge because the power had been off for 3 days...she was dressed in a coat with gloves and her hood pulled up standing inside her kitchen!!! So I'm guessing it was below 40degrees inside...and she was whining about no food at the store.

    Like the lady who was complaining about no water as the burst pipe is running water down her living room wall...grab a bucket, stick it under the stream of water pouring down, pour it through a couple of layers of sheets into a metal container of some sort (pan, big bowl) and put it on the BBQ grill and bring to a boil for a minute. Poof--clean, hot, water. Might not look great, might not taste great, but it wont hurt ya.

    As you start to stock up on water, as well as other stuff--don't use plastic milk jugs as you just can't get them clean enough, either get the plastic jugs designed for water, and rotate them as they do degrade over time, and DO NOT place them on concrete. Put them on a pallet, or on some shelving. And check them every month or so to be sure ya don't have any leaks so that when ya do need water, it is still there.

    1. Put together a bin, or 2, with extra batteries, both the copper top ones, they are good for like 10 years, some extra warm clothes, and a armful of those inexpensive fleece blankets that sell for like $5 at Walmart's. They come in patterns like Frozen, camo, and wolf/bear/deer. 2 of those layered together are very snuggly, plus you have critters that I am sure would cuddle up when it gets cold inside. Paper plates/cups/plastic ware, napkins, paper towels, bottle of bleach--unscented--those long plastic gloves to wash dishes with, a box of big, heavy duty garbage bags, a metal bucket, a plastic bucket, couple of rolls of TP. Get extra mittens/gloves/hats, and go to Harbor Freight and buy up more of those little flashlights, they sell the bigger ones that have a magnet on 3 sides, and will stick to your stove hood as well. Store a dozen or so of those, with the batteries alongside--not inside--so when the batteries go bad, the light isn't trashed. And pick up a couple of packages of Mountain House, or Alpine House meals...just add hot water and have a dinner for two. They last like for 25 years, and taste not half bad. Layer clothes and socks on. Buy a package of body wipes (Walmart sells them) to use to clean up with if feeling grubby and are unable to fill the horse trough with enough hot water to take a bath.

      You can also pick up an extra battery--the glass mat ones are wicked heavy, and expensive, but work well down to exhausted, and charge it once a month or so by either truck or tractor, and have it as a stand-by to charge/run stuff...not just phones/kindles/rechargeable lights, but to have the ability to run a little pump to water the horses with, or pump water for your morning coffee.

      And remember to store a couple of filled cans, or a 55 gal drum of fuel for the tractor and the vehicles. At the very least, fill your gas tanks when they get down to half, and definitely before any predicted lousy weather, either hot or cold. When it is forecast to have bad weather around here, I always make sure the dishes are done, that I have taken a shower, (instead of in the morning like usual) and the clothes are all clean. That way if we do lose power, at least I am not starting out behind the eight-ball.

      Glad you make it through, and will get the water issues addressed before August!!! Was sending lots of good thoughts your way all week long.

    2. Suz. Most brands of cordless tools sell a flashlight or an area light that runs of the tool batteries. The normal cycle of use of the tool batteries keeps them charged, and there is also the option to get a charger that will run off of the vehicle's 12 volt system.

    3. Suz, lots of good info there. Yeah we got four good uses out of the water (that we didn't drink). We had the second rinse water which, when slightly soapy went into the first rinse water which went into the soapy water which went into the flush the toilet water. That process is what I meant when talking about sanitizing the hands when washed in "questionaable" water.

  16. Wells and pipes...

    You need water, to drink, and clean. Also heat and lights.
    The point of it is have an aggressive plan to prevent damage
    as that makes recovery faster (and cheaper). Also back
    up system for weather or provider systems failures.
    There are a lot of ideas but keep it practical and maintainable.

    Waterssystem and pumps. Install drain valves at a point that
    is lowest in the system if a freeze must happen, drain the
    pipes so they are not damaged.

    Also if power is out shut off all power at the main panel so
    nothing starts unexpected.

    A genset is needed, make it big enough to provide power for the well
    and install a change over to keep it going. Provide heat so the
    water cannot freeze in the well/pump house. At extreme cold drain
    the lines going else where and Pick up water at the pumphouse.

    Generator key thing is maintenance test once a month. If gasoline
    powered make sure you burn all the fuel in it and stored
    (use in tractors or whatever) as it has terrible storage
    life usually 6 months is about it.

    A small generator can light a house even a little 30 pound
    honda 1000I. To run fridges or the like you need 2200watts
    at least (most want 1800 watts to srt and 900 to run).
    Here we have a 5700W genset as New England gets ice and snow
    and its normal. The Genset is rated 5700W continous and 8700W
    peak. The peak capability is needed to start motors (fridge,
    freezer,oil burner, AC) and enough reserve for the microwave.
    I also keep a smaller 1200W portable unit, back up for the backup.

    Two gensets are handy! A small portable one to run power
    tools and lights in remote ares without power or long
    extensions. a bigger one to do heavy lifting like wells
    heating and basic cooling.

    Note on power. Our local power fails generally for two reasons,
    someone tried to move the power poles with a car. The other
    is weather severe enough to take down lines usually local to
    larger area.

    Consider solar panels for small pumping systems for "farm use water"
    also small LEDS light powered by sun for pump house and other places.

    LED lights of the camp and pocket use are handy for those,
    oops power is out. times.

    Solar powered walk way lights make outside less stumble
    in the dark. Larger solar lights are available for the
    door or barn. Thy don't need to be big or super bright
    to avoid /dammit/ moments in the dark.

    I keep a 5 gallon can of ethanol for a heater (chimyless).
    Also a 5 gallon can of gas (snow blower, and to run genset
    for a few hours) and a few quarts of lamp oil for oil lamps
    as they do good light better than candles and the larger
    ones some not insignificant heat.

    Power for things like cell phones and tablets is easy
    get some/many of those power stations or USB charger
    batteries they come in all sizes and are generally cheap.
    Remember to charge them. A few even have built in solar
    to charge and maintain them just needs sun usually a lot
    of it.

    Also a radio with a crank or decent solar charge ability
    so news of the world is not a surprize.

    Anything uses batteries even so called Duracells do
    not last 10 years in the drawer, experience.
    Give them 5 years and use them up. Replace.
    NOTE: never store most alkaline batteries in
    a place where if they leak it will damage
    something useful or important. Never in the
    flashlight radio or whatever.

    Rechargeable batteries need to be used and topped
    off every so often (varies with battery). If not
    they will be dead when desired.

    From someone used to having power fail a few times
    a year for usually only hours. and for more than a
    day once every few years.


    1. Thanks Eck! (Interesting handle there...Story?)

      Found out the reason the Fireplace didn't light wasn't because of Electricity failure, rather the batteries in the igniter were dead. Had no idea there were batteries in it. The construction sup for our new home called this week to check and see how things went. We mentioned the lack of fireplace as a minor inconvenience and he asked if we'd checked the batteries. "What batteries?" we replied. "OH!" Getting smarter every day!

  17. Forgot to add my 2 cents (literally) prepper tip--Free stuff at Harbor Freight.

    I have accumulated three of these lights. One in my bedroom, one in the garage, and one in my truck. I intend to get a few more. Haven't run one long enough to know how long the batteries last, but it was long enough to help my son change out the battery in his truck one night.

    Yeah I know, Harbor Freight = chineseum. I don't frequent the place. However, if you need a tool for a one time job and don't want to pay professional grade, there are solutions there. I bought an electric spray rig and a respirator to spray our wooden yard fence with Thompson's Water Seal.

    1. We finally got a Harbor Freight in the vicinity within the last year. Haven't really checked them out yet. Might have to, if for no other reason than something different to do. Thanks

    2. My step grandson's friend's grandfather is a district/area manager for Harbor Freight. Back in January I met him on the friend's birthday outing to a skeet range in Dallas. We were talking and he told me about HF's new approach to their product lines with the reputation they had developed on Cheap Chinese stuff(didn't use that other s word). They still have the cheap stuff but have introduced some better quality (and more costly) product lines. The stuff is not necessarily made in China but in other countries where the dollar buys more. When you go there ask about those products.

  18. One thing I learned during our little outage - lasted all day - a battery backup for your iPhone is great. And if you charge it the charge lasts a year or more.

    Another thing in California a lot of people are doing, particularly in our Sierra Foothills - buy a gas-powered generator. There is something you have to do to the house wiring, but it isn't a big thing.

    There was a funny meme going around - a frozen giant wind turbine in TX, a fossil fueled helicopter carrying a big bucket of fossil-fueled derivative deicer, to unfreeze the green energy wind turbine.

    1. My favorites are the diesel generators on a trailer, charging a Tesla. The stupid burns sometimes...

    2. My favorite, saw it once or twice maybe, was an electric vehicle towing a trailer with a generator on it and the charge cord going to the car.

      Muhahahahahhahahahaha. And the electric people keep telling me that E vehicles are so much better...

    3. There is a lot of stupid out there, that's for sure.

  19. Juvat, glad you made it out (all things considered) relatively okay. I have more than a passing interest in that neck of the woods and i know you made out better than others I know in the same vicinity.

    Thank you also for the all the good learnings. They - and other comments - have made me think more about what we need to do here at my parent's place, where a loss of power happens from time to time.

    1. Yep, there are a lot of smart, savvy folks around here, I'll give you that. I hope to join their ranks some day.

  20. That sucks, juvat, no other way to say it. You guys got clobbered a LOT harder than we did. We had a week of "unseasonably cold" temperatures, and maybe 6" of snow.

    Well, new house, "100 Year" winter storm, and not expecting it to get THAT cold for that long.

    I'd go with a whole-house, natural gas or propane powered, generating unit. I think Onan is the current 800-pound gorilla of those, but I'm sure there's others. Solar needs a BIG battery bank to be truly reliable, and I'm not sure if it's cost-effective for a homeowner.

    1. Thanks drjim,
      I'll look into that.

      My biggest gripe about the situation was the "12-24 hour" expected outage thing. The CO-OP should have updated that when it became obvious that it wasn't realistic. I don't know what we would have done different, but it was tough keeping the morale up each morning and nothing's improved. I think the next meeting of the Co-Op's membership might be "interesting".

    2. I have read a few of these replies that discuss whole house generators. I went and looked to see what a Cummins Onan would cost but they only give quotes from dealers so I asked for one for a 25 KW unit. I have looked at the Generacs at Northern Tool; they have a propane 24 KW air cooled one for about $5,000. The Onan is also propane powered. One would have to add another $2500 or so for a 500 gallon propane tank. Generac diesel fueled units cost between $10,000 and $20,000, maybe more.

      I don't really think solar is a solution either. But, the yahoos in Washington D.C. are trying to make fossil fuel (LP and diesel) go away so that may be the answer we are stuck with. I would have had good sun on a couple of the cold days; however, I would have had to have a snow removal system to make solar work.

    3. Thanks, Bill, (got your email by the way). I'm going to look into those options.

  21. Sorry to sap some battery life checking up on you last week. Glad to hear the wx has turned better. Hope the repairs go quickly.

    1. No worries, Tuna. Phase 2 of Operation "Everyone move one house clockwise" went well. My sister is in her new home, albeit without water. She'll do wash and shower up here until water is restored. The plumber is still on tap for showing up Day after tomorrow. We'll update the decisions at that point. Reservations at the Guest house have been cancelled and remitted through the weekend. The Wisconsin couple that had arrived, made it through the first night (before the power/water outage) and decided to return home. Too Cold they said.
      Life is good!

  22. juvat (and all the rest of you sports-fans here): What much of what you are going thru juvat is but a SMALL TASTE of what life will be like if/when the ChiComs pull an EMP number on us...and they've got the capability via multiple deliverly sys IN SPADES NOW!!!...and with a well advertised aggressive "first use" doctrine even in event of maj conventional-only confrontation with US in Pacific.. (We're whistling past the grave-yard--or exercising the Ostrich Plan--take your pick)


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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