National Preparedness Month is observed in the U.S. each September. FEMA sponsors the observance, which reminds us to take steps to prepare for emergencies in our homes, businesses and schools.
One of the most common “emergencies” in our homes is losing power. At first, losing power is just an inconvenience, but if it lasts more than a few hours, it can become a more serious situation.
Using Your Fireplace or Stove During a Power Outage
During the cold months, power outages can result in loss of heat, making it uncomfortable or even impossible to stay in our homes. When this happens, we appreciate our fireplaces and stoves more than ever. Here’s how to be prepared:
Wood-burning Hearth Products. If you have a wood pile and and a wood-burning fireplace or stove, you’re in good shape to keep your house warm during a power outage.
Gas Fireplaces – Standing Pilot. If your gas fireplace has a standing pilot, it should light itself fine during a power outage since it doesn’t require electricity to activate the pilot flame. If you need to light it manually, consult your owner’s manual.
Gas Fireplaces – Intermittent Pilot Ignition. If your gas fireplace was manufactured recently, it may have an energy-saving intermittent pilot ignition system, which requires electricity to spark the pilot flame each time it’s used. Many models, like Heatilator gas fireplaces and inserts are outfitted with IntelliFire or IntelliFire Plus ignition systems, which have battery backup systems that can be used to light the pilot during a power outage. Generally, IntelliFire systems require two D cell batteries, and IntelliFire Plus systems require four AA batteries. If you have a remote control or a wall switch with a display, find the control box in the lower controls of the fireplace or behind the stove. There will be a switch that slides between ‘ON’, ‘OFF’ and ‘REMOTE’ – slide this to ‘ON’ for the appliance to operate with the power off. If you have questions, consult your owner’s manual.
Pellet stoves and inserts. They require electricity to light the flame and many models are available with battery backup systems. Consult your owner’s manual to determine what size and how many batteries are needed. Also, keep in mind that sometimes power outages can cause power surges that may damage circuit boards and motors. For this reason, it’s a good idea to unplug your pellet stove during a storm, or plug it into a surge protector. Another option for lighting your stove is to plug it into a generator, if you have one.
Keep in mind that batteries should be used only in the event of a power outage, as battery longevity can be affected by the temperature of the appliance. So, remove the batteries when you’re not using them during a power outage.
Hearth products become great assets during power outages! If you have questions, please consult your owner’s manual or your local hearth dealer.