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February 25, 2021

Snowmageddon 2021!

Photo of ice covered prickly pear cactus

Well, Snowmageddon (extreme weather) in Texas is finally over. Actually, it’s been over for about four days now. But things still aren’t back to normal.

The Fat Rancher likes to think that he’s prepared for the worst. However, there is nothing like a snowacolypse to bring you back to earth. While we were fortunate that our power outages were brief, the loss of power did bring up several soft spots in our contingency plans.

Lessons Learned

Prep

First, you really must have a way to drain the hose bibs on the exterior of the house. People in low-temperature climates already know this, and their houses are designed for low temperatures. In Texas, not so much.

We are fortunate that our hose bibs are on a separate circuit from the drinking water in the house. So I will be installing a shutoff valve with a “drain feature” so that I can empty the pipes around the outside of the house. This is merely a vacuum break so that the water can be drained from the circuit.

Survive

The squeeze chute iceth over

The second is that, while our high-efficiency fireplace insert cranks some heat, getting the heat into the living room when the power is off can be challenging. That electric fan will run when the generator is on. However, who wants to run the generator while the family is asleep? It’s a waste of precious fuel. So I’ll be looking for options to power that fan that moves the heat off of the insert into the room. Maybe we set up a generator on a treadmill so that Gus can keep us warm? Probably not…

Gus is partial to his heating pad. I don’t think he’s going to be down with running on a treadmill to keep his human family warm!
This product is available from Amazon.

Next, having an unconditioned garage where the water conditioning equipment is located is problematic. I’ll be installing a radiant heat panel like the one pictured on the wall behind the water softener and whole house filter. I’ve opened this wall up and installed more insulation between the outside wall and the pipes feeding the water conditioning equipment, and I’ll mount the heater with a thermostat between these pipes and the equipment.

Thrive

Finally, I’ll be buying a propane stove system of some sort and storing two 40 lb cylinders in the barn. The Fat Rancher lives in a 1980’s all-electric house and he likes a hot meal once in a while. When the ‘lectric goes out, there ain’t no skillet action. Besides we could use it to make breakfast tacos at the church when we are doing a natural disaster.

Flame Kings all New 40 lbs. Refillable HOG Propane Cylinder.

Additionally, a heater head can be affixed to these bad-boys for supplemental heat.

All-in-all, we are counting our blessings in spite of the week long disruption. But one can always be better prepared. And The Fat Rancher aims to do just that.

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