Autumnal tasks

Today is, as I understand it, the first day of fall/autumn. This means, of course, that winter is on its way. Don’t kid yourself, though…fall can get pretty damn cold and nasty long before the ‘official’ start of winter occurs.

So what’s getting done around here now that we are officially in fall? Run the generator to make sure it works. Ditto for the snowblower. Get the winter emergency gear put in the vehicle. Drag the winter clothing and gear out of storage. Make sure the kerosene heaters are ready to go, etc, etc.

I don’t mind the house getting cold in the winter….I prefer it that way, actually. What I don’t want is frozen pipes. So…kerosene heaters. If the power goes out I can put one in the basement to keep the pipes from freezing and keep another one upstairs to keep the rest of the house from freezing. If your’re going to go that route, though, you absolutely must, must, must have a carbon monoxide detector. Preferably more than one. And make sure you have fresh batteries in them. You just can not take chances with that sort of thing. I prefer detectors that have a numeric display so I can actually see if things are getting worse or better in terms of air quality. In addition to that sort of thing, I also keep a huge CO2 fire extinguisher handy for the fueling process. (And these precautions are also in place for the generator as well).

Which reminds me, I need to go fill a couple jerry cans and treat some gas. The winter blend of craptacular MTBE/oxygenated/’envirofriendly’ is going to be all thats available soon and that crap is not friendly to the small engines. (And, by the by, if you’re going to store fuel, I highly recommend the PRI-G product.)

17 thoughts on “Autumnal tasks

  1. Do you prefer CO2 extinguishers over the regular ones? Ease of cleanup if need to use them?? Buddy of mine picked up a half dozen of the stainless water extinguishers (for $15 each on a surplus sale) that you can refill with a air compressor or even a bicycle tire pump (PIA to do though). Right with you on the CO detectors with the numbers, just hearing it beep means nothing if you don’t know what the level of nasty is in the area.

    • I prefer CO2 extinguishers for fuel handling. The rest of the time I prefer either the usual powder or water types.

      • Commander, after a few demos from the local Fire College I’m pretty sold on a class of extinguisher that is seeing more use in the portable/handheld class of extinguishers recently. The chemical is not new but the non-gov use of Purple K is new to me. As was demonstrated to us, we emptied 2 dry chem and 2 CO extinguishers at a tire fire only to watch it relight after each was empty. Four squirts from the Purple K and the fire was out with no restart.

        It was advised as the choice for a “do-all” as it does fryer oil fires, flammable liquids and electrical all in one portable.

        It’s a little more expensive but this is fire prevention we are talking about and yes, it is purple.

        Just FYI.

  2. Hey Commander, I finally have my diesel fuel storage tank topped off and now I’m looking for a diesel Biocide to safe guard the fuel in storage. Any thoughts? Thanks, Joe.

    • I’m not familiar with biocides for diesel since, at the moment, I don’t use diesel for anything. But, the guys who make PRI-G also make a version for diesel (PRI-D) and you might want to invesigate that.

  3. The last ditch frozen pipe saver is for you to find the lowest point in your plumbing chain and install a nice ball valve with hose bib. When the cold is too severe, kerosene heater and backup heaters aren’t working or have run dry:
    1) Shut off main water supply
    2) Go to top most point of your plumbing chain and open a faucet
    3) Got to drain valve at lowest point and drain all water from system.
    4) Pour a bit of glycol into drain and toilet traps so waste lines don’t freeze.
    (if your too green for that, then throw in a bunch of salt but to save my pipes I’ll sacrifice a small bit of the environment and use glycol)

    Since your plumbing chain may contain a lot of water you may want to put a drain point in the basement and another on the first floor. Drain the bulk of the system through the first floor drain point (a hose running out the door to the yard and gravity feed will work). When that can drain no more, use the basement drain point for the last few dregs. Those can go into some 5 gallon buckets or an empty garbage can.

    Then you can direct all your heating energy into just protecting the supply side of your main shut off valve.

  4. A question on Pri-G – I’ve noticed during the regular bi-monthly generator testing (30 minutes under load) that neither the EU3000 or ES6500 seem to like gas treated with it; the symptom is surging and ocasional exhaust popping. The spec I used was “1 ounce per 16 gallons” which translates to 9.5ML per 5 gallon can. The truck doesn’t seem to care.

    Ever run into this? How much are you putting into each 5 gallon can?

    • I usually go a tad overboard since the measurement on the back of the container is for 6 gallons, and my can is 5 gallons…but I’ve not noticed any difference. I suppose its possible the PRI-G is responsible for the surging/popping, but then again it cold also be the gasoline itself maybe. Not sure. But I can say that I havent experienced those problems.

    • Make sure you are not using gasohol. Really bad stuff for small engines. Eats plastic parts in the fuel system, and also makes it run leaner than with straight gas.
      It’s possible that the Pri-G may not be totally compatible with it.

      I have found that gasohol is not compatible with my old 4-cyl turbo car. Bad throttle response, rough idle, and the knock sensor kicks the timing to full retarded. Gas mileage sucks. No way would I run gasohol in an aircooled engine.

  5. Do you have any recommendations for the kero heaters? South Texas doesn’t get very cold, however my roommate is a semi-invalid that would be hard put to handle a cold spell. (Not to mention houses here are not really insulated to deal with real cold.) I have pets, but no children.

  6. Several problems with kerosene inside the house:

    The smell, and eye irritation.
    Spills and fire hazard from refilling the fuel tank.

    I recommend a propane heater instead, for primary use, but keep the kero type as a backup in case you run out of propane. I’ve got two types, a salamander type, which of course requires 115v, and one that mounts directly on top of a propane tank. Inside (warehouse) fuel burning forklifts mostly run on propane, which produce little or none of carbon monoxide, IIRC.

    • I think the spills and fire hazard from refueling is alleviated if you refill them outside. Normal procedure around here, which is posted way back somewhere, is that the heater is started outside and let run for a few minutes before being brought indoors, is refueled outdoors, and is turned off outdoors. In an old house like this one, CO isn’t as big an issue as it would be in a newer house that is more airtight, howver, thats why the emphasis on the CO detectors. I like propane, but kerosene gives me more BTU and is easier to ‘divide’ across multiple devices like stove, heater, and lantern. I can crack open a 5-gallon drum of kero and divide it among those items, harder to split up propane from a 20# tank without a bit more work and equipment.

      • I’m not thrilled with the idea of moving a kero heater with a full tank. Especially when hot. They tend to slosh fuel from the cap, since the cap is vented, as the tank has no vent, itself.

        Used them a lot, since my father’s body shop had a couple to heat the place. One big problem with them: Any heavy gas/vapor will get sucked into them and burned, since they sit directly on the floor. We were in there one day when his stupid mechanic vented an A/C system, because he needed to remove part of it for access to something. At the first whiff, I yelled for everyone to get out, and started opening all the bay doors for venting.

        The older Freon, R-12, is poisonous when burned.

        The newer one, R-134a, is toxic just breathing it directly. It kills your liver. (NOT an exaggeration! A leaking system in Brazil, back when it was fairly new to the market, killed a bunch of overhead crane workers). When I saw the smoke and smelled the non-kero odor, I put that together with the hiss I heard just before, and realized what that SOB had done.

  7. Hereabouts, the turnabout days for gear and gadgets are the beginning and end of DST, also for the smoke detectors as well as the CO detector(s), but the vernal and autumnal equinoxii serve equally well.

    The important thing is to simply do it.

  8. I’m a propane guy, I have worked with it all my life and have backup supplies on hand and multiple storage tanks from 750gal to 20# tanks. It keeps forever.

    • The biggest drawback to propane is that it requires specialized equipment for delivery. Propane requires a specifically designed truck and that truck faces the limitations of any other kind of truck (icy roads, snowdrifts blocking road, police/ guy roadblocks, road washouts, etc.).

      If the roads are closed for any reason, you’re not going to get a delivery because the propane truck can’t be on the road (road closure, snow, floods, etc.). With diesel or gas I can get 5 friends and each one straps a couple 5 gallon cans to a packboard and we can hump in what we need. In a pinch I could even load up a garden cart or a Tactical Wheelbarrow (TM) with 2-liter soda bottles filled with diesel.

      If I am severely desperate I can take some cans and go get diesel from the town or county garage, the school bus depot, heavy equipment yard, etc.

      The great drawback to propane as I see it is the lack of ability for it to be broken down easily into smaller man portable packaging without specialized equipment or skill sets.

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