Q&A Discussion of how hot is hot for combustible surfaces

QandA Posted By QandA, Jun 22, 2004 at 2:20 PM

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  1. QandA

    New Member 2.
    Staff Member

    Nov 27, 2012

    Someone told me that a way to check to see if a surface was getting too hot was to take the ambient temperature plus a certain number of degrees. Does anyone know the number of degrees for this equation?


    Gasman gave the numbers in one of our earlier QA. You can use one of those new fancy and inexpensive infrared thermometers to get an idea of the temperature.

    Some things to keep in mind....

    If it gets anywhere near those termperatures, it should be protected. It is unlikely that any of your normal "testing" fires bring the surface up to it's highest possible temperature...in other words, it is likely to get a LOT hotter at some point then the temp you see.

    Darl materials soak up radiant heat much faster.

    In the spirit of keeping a great margin of error, many people use the "rule of thumb" which states that you should be able to put your hand on a combustible surface for a couple of seconds without being burnt. Since 120 degrees is abou the maximum comfortable temperature for your skin to touch something, this give a decent margin of safety.

    Some other comparables:

    Water at 130 degrees will burn you. The temperature of radiators and hot water heating pipes are normally a maximum of about 180 dregrees.

    Although wood ignites at temperatures of over 500 degrees, prolonged exposure to temperatures as low as 250 degrees causes charring of the woods and lowers the ignition temperature.

    My figures may not be exact, but they are close. The rule of ambient plus 117 would normally equal about 190 degrees. Again, keep in mind a good margin. Even much lower temps can affect paint and finishes. If it were my house, I'd try to keep things below 130.
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