How many times have you found yourself without hot water? It could be a power outage, the hot water heater failing, or a water supply disruption.
Regardless of why you are without hot water, it is more than a minor inconvenience. We need hot water to clean ourselves, wash dishes, and launder our clothes.
The good news is that there are many projects that you can build to provide a constant supply of hot water in those times when getting it from traditional sources is impossible.
Even better, these are things that you can construct today and keep on hand for those times that you need them.
Wood Stove Water Heater
There are a few ways to convert a wood stove into a continuous hot water source. The easiest way is to use a wood stove with a water heater attached. This comes at a cost though, and making one yourself can often be less expensive.
You can make a wood stove out of an old propane tank, or steel drum, or fabricate one out of sheet steel. There are even ways to turn an old ammo can into a wood stove.
A wood stove’s chimney gets extremely hot, and that heat energy is wasted as it radiates into the air. Wrap flexible copper plumbing pipe around the chimney to take advantage of this wasted heat. To do this, you must fill the pipe with sand and carefully wrap it in a coil around the chimney. Once it is in the right shape, remove the sand and solder some plumbing fixtures on each end. Cold water will enter the bottom of the coil, and hot water will exit through the top.
Another method is to make a zig-zagging pattern of copper pipe, which you can wrap around the stove’s body. This will require a lot of soldered joints and will be harder to build than just wrapping flexible pipe around the chimney. The advantage is that you can use a larger diameter pipe to heat more water as it travels around the heater body.
You’ll need a method of storing this heated water, and an old hot water tank would be a great option. Wrapping the tank in insulation will help to keep the water inside nice and hot.
In either of these cases, all you need to do is fire up the stove and allow water to run through the plumbing. You must be careful not to let the water sit stagnant in the pipe. What may happen is that the water starts to boil and generate steam, which can cause the fittings to burst.
Wood Stove Hot Water Tank
If you have some fabrication skills and access to stainless steel, you can build a custom water tank that will hang off the side of the stove. Alternatively, a stainless-steel tank placed on the stove will also work quite well.
You’ll have to ensure that the water inside these tanks does not boil because that will generate steam and create a lot of pressure, leading to the tank bursting.
If you go this route, you’ll need to ensure that all welds on and inside the tank are sanitary welds so as to not contaminate your hot water.
Rocket Stove Water Heater
A rocket stove water heater works the same way as a wood stove heater, but the coil of copper water pipe will be built into the stove’s body. Like the wood stove water heater, you’ll need an old hot water tank to store the heated water.
Rocket stoves are more efficient than traditional wood stoves, which is better in situations where access to fuel to burn may be limited.
Solar Water Heaters
There are many ways to harness the sun’s power to heat water. This can be a great option in warmer climates and during the summer months. Still, if you can place a solar water heater inside your home with access to direct sunlight, you could also use it in the colder months.
There are many ways to construct these solar water heaters, and most are straightforward enough for anyone with some basic construction skills.
One excellent method is to place a coil of PEX pipe painted flat black in a box with a plexiglass lid. The inlet and outlet of the pipe have fittings attached to them, which allow you to connect them to hoses and valves.
Solar Drum Heater
You can also use 55-gallon drums painted black and placed on your home’s roof as a solar water heater. Since the drums will be elevated, they will provide water pressure as gravity pulls the water down.
You’ll need to ensure that your roof can handle the extra weight, and you’ll probably have to build and install a platform to hold the drums.
Sometimes, the old ways are the best. If you have fire and water, you have endless hot water. You can hang a pot over a campfire or make a fire pit with an elevated grate on top of which you place a large pot full of water.
As long as you have fire, the water will be heated, but you won’t be able to plumb it into your home’s plumbing. Failure of the grid shouldn’t keep you from a steady supply of nice hot water. These projects are worth investing in now so that you’ll be good to go when the grid goes down.
Even though your access to this heated water will look much different than when we have unlimited access to electricity, you’ll be the only one on the block with unlimited clean, piping hot water.
This article first appeared here.
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