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99 Ways to Burn Your House Down

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by DeerHunter, Oct 4, 2012.

  1. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    That's not so surprising . . . there have been some studies on how some children will not wake up to the sound of many smoke detectors. It appears however that smoke detectors with an alternating pitch will have better results . . . and talking smoke detectors (some you can tape your own warning) have even better results at waking sleeping children.

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  2. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    I'm not so sure I want to use freezing cold water near a red hot stove...I think I would prefer a fire extinguisher.:oops:
  3. KaptJaq

    KaptJaq Minister of Fire

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    If the stove is that HOT it is probably damaged anyway but I still wouldn't hit it with water. To get that hot it probably went through all the fuel in it and is already cooling down. The material in it, cast iron & ceramic window, might react violently from a sudden burst of water.

    I would want to hose down the sofa (or the drapes, or the coffee table, etc) that had proper CTC but caught fire anyway from the intense heat of the run-away stove.

    KaptJaq
  4. teutonicking

    teutonicking Feeling the Heat

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    If you have an ash pan, make sure you only empty it when the stove is cold or at least after an overngiht burn when there are not too many hot coals in the stove. When I first got my stove last year I made the twin mistakes of emptying the ash pan once when the stove was relatively hot and right after I had just raked the ash into the pan to fill it up, adding even more hot coals into the pan. Although I was wearing my 20" stove gloves, the pan was so hot that it went through the gloves after about 10 seconds before I was able to get to the backyard. Dumb mistake, but one I will never repeat again.
  5. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Okay, here's another one. Don't paint with volatile-type paints or solvents with your stove burning, cooking stove on, or furnace active. Just a few days ago, some millions of damage was done in a very expensive part of Seattle when (according to the news), a contractor had been using lacquer in a new house when the furnace ignited the fumes and exploded. It totaled the house and severely damaged some adjacent houses. No one was killed.
  6. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    wOw
    I would never think that would be a danger:eek:
  7. katwillny

    katwillny Guest

    I believe this is what happened last Christmas in Hartford CT. That was sad.
    CTguy9230 likes this.
  8. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Well,it does take just the right mixture of fumes and air to explode like that ("stoichiometry"). Hopefully, it would be rare for that ratio to be just right like that, but it can and does happen. In this kind of case in a closed structure, the fumes could just build and build until the critical mixture is reached, then all it takes is an ignition source. It's the same problem as natural gas leaks or anything else like that. Too much fumes or too little and it won't ignite explosively. It's a Goldilocks thing. It has to be just right.
  9. Monosperma

    Monosperma Member

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    -Procrastinate on things like getting that heat shield up, repairing a bad door seal, or chimney sweeping.
    -Let clueless, unaware, houseguests operate your stove without taking the time to teach them how to do it right and why.
    -Lose track of your fire extinguisher, e.g., move it around a lot or put it in a cupboard and be unable to find it in the stressful, urgent, moment of truth (or, just as bad, render others unable to find it).
    -Too much small wood with too much surface area, combined with inadequate control of air supply.
    -Be a cheapskate: rely on a thirty year old fire extinguisher; let your unemployed carpenter neighbor, who has never installed a stove before, do the job cheap.
    firebroad likes this.
  10. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    +1 on making sure your fire extinguisher is good to go. It's not a good feeling when you pull the pin and squeeze the handle, only to find out nothing's going to come out.

    Been there. It sucks.
  11. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    How close was it? Between wood beams and lockers inside these big old fireplaces, lintels, and door jambs... I have lots of wood close to my stoves. Depending on how you interpret the less-than crystal clear diagrams and instructions of old stove manuals poorly translated from Swedish to English, I'm either okay or doomed.

    That's the standard procedure outlined in my stove manual, as well as others I've perused. Of course, that statement is always followed by the text, "never leave the stove in this state." I always crack my front load doors (never the ash door) during light-up, typically for the first 3 - 5 minutes of burning, but I never walk away from the stove with the doors cracked.

    We have two separate systems, one hardwired (with battery backup), and then a second system installed by our central-monitoring company. We have five smoke detectors with carbon monixide on the old hardwired system, and we have more than 10 smoke and fire (heat rise) detectors on the centrally-monitored system. My father spent much of his life as a firefighter, and the rest of it as a fire inspector, providing advice on fire investigations. I grew up seeing the result of too many fires.

    Yes. Very scary.

    And to add to the topic... owning a thermostatically-controlled fan. In the aforementioned fire investigations, the worst fires I've ever seen were those in houses with thermostatically controlled fans. In one or two cases, an attic-mounted whole-house fan was controlled by a thermostat on the second floor. Fire starts, thermostat clicks the fan on, and turns your entire house into a very efficient blast furnace.
  12. heatwise

    heatwise Feeling the Heat

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    Uh, don't run pipe through plywood out the window. Sadly that is what happened to someone who was in my musician group of friends. If I had known he was setting up a stove I could have seen to it he used my installer, even if I had to pay for it. He lost everything and was not insured.
  13. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    ~4" !!!
  14. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Yikes. Dry wood can ignite at only 451 F (or at least books can, according to Ray Bradbury...). Stove pipes can get so much hotter than that. Stove tops and sides, too, for that matter. Ask fossil.
  15. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    You may never walk away from a stove, but I have. Sometimes it's a phone call, or someone needs the door unlocked, or I go out to grab something.

    That's why I like keeping to the minimum clearances, to protect myself from my own stupidity.

    "Dear Homer: I owe you one emergency donut. -Homer-"
  16. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    Can't add anything to the wealth of great advice here but fwiw I will share this. My stove mfr also recommends leaving the door cracked a bit when lighting it up from cold. Which I do - usually @ 60 seconds and it's going strong and I close the door. Once (with a nice mix of cedar, spruce, and a couple small-ish very dry maple pieces, apparently stacked in some magical way that was aligned with the moon and stars, destined to go thermonuclear) I lit it up, let it roll, closed the door (but left the air open full) and went to get my coffee. About 5 minutes later (kinda guessing as I didn't time it, but enough time to gab a mug, put the kettle on for my better half, mix my brew, etc.) i came back and the flue temp was passing 950 and approaching 1000. I lit the stove a hundred times and never saw it go like that before. Not a disaster or anything, I just closed the air and all was fine, but I was stunned by how hot and how fast that kindling took off that day. I don't leave the stove now until the fire is settled into it's groove (first get coffee, then light stove, and enjoy both in front of the fire).
  17. RORY12553

    RORY12553 Minister of Fire

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    A bomb can go off in my house and nobody else but me would hear it and to think I only have 70% hearing in both ears! LOL...not sure if this was sad but i think i would like to know what to do in case of chimney fire? what if one of the kids throws something at the pipe on top of the stove and breaks it while a fire is going? just all the what if's. i have a fire exstinguisher downstairs and have checked all the fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work
  18. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Great story. You just can't walk away thinking you'll be back in time (or at least I can't). I guess sometimes when the outside air is warm or for some other reason you're getting a smoke buildup, you may need to establish a draft for a couple minutes, but don't walk away. Even when I have the stove turned up all the way for 15 or 20 minutes to get it hot before turning it down (on a fresh start), I set a timer that I have right next to the stove. Religiously. I'm still looking for a hi temp alarm and it's looking like I'll have to build one or spend around $60 for one, which I will do if necessary.
  19. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Get one upstairs, too. The big 8 pound ones.
  20. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    speaking of kids - another thought that just occurred - a friend once had an incident with his son - I believe he was standing by a stove, warming his hands (turned facing away so he had his hands behind him) - not sure if he got distracted by something, just not paying attention, lost his balance or whatever, but his hands touched the stove and he got burned pretty bad as you can imagine. I would say in addition to extinguishers, alarms, etc, a good first aid kit and some basic knowledge of what to do in the event of a burn would be great things to have on hand. I have to admit I need to do some work in that regard myself....
    ScotO likes this.
  21. charly

    charly Guest

    You'd think the dog would take a minute , get down off the couch and shut the door for ya:)!
  22. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    You really should take them out and put them in a covered metal pail which sits on a non-combustible surface asap.

    Sounds so very familiar. Ours was an old Fisher with correct 8" pipe. However....the pipe was connected with a piece of aluminum flashing held in place with thin gauge wire. The feet were cemented into the hearth pad, and the corners were set into the stone surround, WELL below clearance.
  23. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    I missed the part about leaving the bucket inside. I'd worry about CO buildup from any material left smouldering., as well as accidentally knocking it over. +1 on taking it outside asap.
  24. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    My stove is pretty much used on weekends (at camp). One long weekend a couple years ago, we had the usual great fire going all weekend (cold as hell outside). Since we were leaving early Monday evening, we let the stove wind down most of the day, then shut it right down before we left. Anyway, the following weekend I returned (Friday afternoon), cleaned out some of the ashes before re-lighting the stove, put them in a steel bucket and took the bucket outside, as usual. I had a plastic garbage bag sitting out beside the driveway, on the snow, where I was throwing some small scraps from the renovation work I was doing inside - junk I didn't want to burn in the outside fire. The ashes "appeared" to be stone cold so, naturally, I figured I'd dump the bucket in the bag - I could take the whole thing home with me at the end of the weekend and out to the dump. Duh. Playing around outside, about an hour later I noticed a funky smell and a bit of smoke - the plastic had melted off one side of the bag, and bits of the stuff inside were smoldering.

    4 days between shut down and start up and there was still some life somewhere in the ashes. I was kinda shocked, but I guess it was best to be "surprised" out in a cold snowy driveway, as opposed to middle of my living room.

    Sharing my stupid human trick - one that didn't end in tragedy - fwiw...
    ScotO likes this.
  25. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Don't burn a bunch of cardboard and papers all at once, ESPECIALLY if you haven't swept the flue and might have creosote build up.

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