When your Plumbing Turns into a Fire Hazard
Maybe you never considered your plumbing system to be a possible household fire risk. And you might be right. The pipes themselves do not present any fire hazards, however, fires can and do start when incompetent plumbers make mistakes, or when other plumbing aspects are not properly taken care of.
In 2011 an “incompetent” plumber Daniel Hickling, 32, caused a gas explosion that felt like a “jet aircraft crashing” after supposedly leaving a hole in the bulging pipe and burying it under the floor. The project was a simple conversion of a former kitchen into a dining room but little did Hickling know (or at least that’s what he claimed in court) that he punctured a gas pipe which caused gas to leak into the luxury home of Martyn and Teresa Moody. And since this plumber wasn’t legally qualified to carry out gas work, he failed to complete an upfront test which would have initially located the gas leak.
Hours later the homeowners smelt gas and started to search for its source in their mansion that is located in the picturesque countryside of Nettleton in the Lincolnshire Wolds. Mr. Moody flicked on a cigarette lighter in one of the rooms and the flame triggered a massive explosion which wrecked the entire house. The windows and front door were blown out and the ground floor of the home was severely damaged. House fragments were thrown throughout 100 yards radius.
Mr. Moody, 63, suffered serious burns to his hands, arms and head and had to endure skin grafts. He has been left scarred for life. His wife Teresa had burns to her legs and feet. She spent two days in the hospital.
The large detached mansion, which the Moodys had built back in 1993, was severely damaged and had to be completely rebuilt. Only after a year the couple was able to move back into their home.
This is just one of the examples when bad plumbing causes fire and fire does not forgive carelessness.
What you can do to prevent plumbing fires at your property
- The Dangers of Soldering
Sometimes soldering work that a plumber performs can cause fire. In fact, according to the National Fire Prevention Association, torches used by plumbers to solder metal pipes fall into a top-ten cause of residential fires each year.
That doesn’t mean you should completely recede from metal pipes. However, it does mean that you must hire only licensed plumbers who take maximum safety precautions when it comes to soldering. If you feel confident enough to handle the plumbing soldering yourself, remember the highest safety standards so you don’t unintentionally start a fire. A flame protector cloth or steel plate should always be handy to protect any flammable material near your soldering location. Always turn your soldering torch off before you put it down and have a fire extinguisher in an easily reachable spot. BUT it is always better to have a professional take care of soldering job in plumbing projects.
- Hidden Leaks
Your pipes can secretly start fire in case of a hidden leak somewhere in your plumbing system. There is a possibility that the water could seep into an area with electric wiring. The water could create sparks that could start a fire in case if the wiring’s insulation is damaged. To avoid this fire hazard, watch out for sudden increase in your water utility bills or stained spots in your home that could indicate a hidden leak. Do not postpone troubleshooting the issue in case if you do find a water leak at your business or home facility.
- Frozen Pipes
The other major fire risk might arise when you do your best to protect your pipes from freezing in winter. Sometimes
the danger comes from preventative measures such as using heat tape. This tape used to wrap pipes that are situated in non-insulated areas of your home (attics or under the porch) can also pose a fire risk. If heat tape isn’t properly adjusted, it can overheat and start a flame. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that faulty heat tape is to blame for 1,500 fires, 100 injuries and 10 deaths each year.
If the pipes have frozen already, some people use a torch to thaw them out. NEVER attempt such a venture for safety purposes – open flame is never to be applied to frozen pipes. In this case it would be best to consult a qualified plumber to solve the problem.
Place Your Trust in the Reputable and Qualified Plumbing Contractor!
And last but not the least – in order to avoid any fire risks in your plumbing system, make sure you hire a fully licensed and insured plumber who follows strict safety standards to avoid any bad plumbing in the future. Trust our reputable plumbing and HVAC contractor Downey Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning to perform quality plumbing work at your residential or commercial facility that would never pose a fire threat for you and your family.