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  • DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

    Years ago I was called to clean a chimney of a woodburning fireplace which had a gas pipe inside to ignite the wood.

    A little Radio-Shack-like mini toggle switch was connected to the end of a clear-jacketed speaker wire resting on the fireplace mantle.
    Ends of the multi-strand wire on the switch screw terminals were almostouching!

    When the switch was flipped the gas came on. One had to light the gas.

    They had a cat. I could see it stepping on the switch causing the wire strands to touch or flip the mini switch ON.

    I told the homoeowner how dangerous it was.
    He appeared not to be concerned.
    When home I reported the hazard to the building department and gave them his address.
    Last edited by Robert Gift; 12-04-2011, 01:57 PM.
    I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
    It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
    "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

  • #2
    Re: DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

    Originally posted by Robert Gift View Post

    I told the homoeowner how dangerous it was.
    He appeared not to be concerned.
    When home I reported the hazard to the building department and gave them his address.
    No offence, but what gave you that right? It was HIS home, not yours. It may not have been safe, but that is his decision, not yours. What is someone came into your home and saw something that they deemed unsafe, but you were ok with it? How would feel about them calling the authorites? Sorry, but your responsibility ended with warning the home owner...

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

      Originally posted by Alphacowboy View Post
      No offence, but what gave you that right? It was HIS home, not yours. It may not have been safe, but that is his decision, not yours. What is someone came into your home and saw something that they deemed unsafe, but you were ok with it? How would feel about them calling the authorites? Sorry, but your responsibility ended with warning the home owner...
      Incorrect, sorry.

      When the house explodes and kills a few neighbors, then what?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

        I can't begin to tell you how much Jerry Rigged stuff I have seen over the years.

        One of the best ones was a Holiday Inn located by Disney Land. This was the old style you used to see across the country. A large 15-20 story tower with a single story lobby, restaurant attached to the right side of the tower. In these locations the boiler room, pool equipment room, kitchen, and laundry facilities were located in the back of the single story part of the building.

        Premise to this story: Back in the early 80's Holiday Inn came out with an internal corporate study that noted that the useful life expectancy of a new H.I. was approximately seven years. After that point the property would start to require extensive maintenance and upkeep. Everything from boiler replacements, to room remodels, etc... So at around the six year mark the properties would start to be advertised as Franchise purchases. The Asians started gobbling these properties up like they were a Grand Slam all you can eat Sushi dinner for $1.99.

        These new hotel operators are so cheap that they would Jerry Rig virtually every repair in the property. Case in Point. One of the properties located near Disneyland was having an issue with the boiler. The T&P valve kept blowing off. So the maintenance department did a Johnny on the Spot repair. They pulled the Thermostat out of its thermo-pipe fitting, and duck taped it to the side of the outlet pipe. (The logic here-it would get a better reading then being directly inside the water outlet side) Then they wired the T&P valve shut, obviously this was the only way to stop it from constantly blowing off,

        The end result was a massive pressure build up on the inlet side to the boiler. The victim to the pressure build up. An eight cubic foot fiberglass water softener. The bottom blew out on the tank. That sent the unit skyward, shearing off the 2" face piping. The concussion blew a thirty foot 2 x 4 wall outward by three feet, splitting every single stud, upper and lower in half. The tank went through the roof of the mechanical building, over the main tower and landed in a field about 1/4 mile away from the property.

        The fire Marshall estimated the concussion explosion from the pressure build up to be between 7-9 sticks of dynamite when it released.

        What makes the story even more interesting is the fact that nobody was hurt. The Executive Chef had just left his office minutes earlier, (it was destroyed as it was on the other side of the wall) and the morning employee meal break had just ended, (the portion of the thirty foot wall that got blown in-wards)

        I looked but could not find the pictures as this happened around 1986 and I must have lost them. However I can tell you the Chefs four drawer Steel Case filing cabinet looked like a beer can that had been squeezed by hand.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

          Originally posted by Alphacowboy View Post
          No offence, but what gave you that right? It was HIS home, not yours. It may not have been safe, but that is his decision, not yours. What is someone came into your home and saw something that they deemed unsafe, but you were ok with it? How would feel about them calling the authorites? Sorry, but your responsibility ended with warning the home owner...
          I don't know about your laws in your state, but here in California, as a contractor when we see gross violations like that we are required to (1) disconnect them, (2) report them. Our license is on the line, not to mention the liability.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

            Originally posted by dlarrivee View Post
            Incorrect, sorry.

            When the house explodes and kills a few neighbors, then what?
            Could not agree with you more. Here is a great personal story. We used to live in a Condo Complex. Each building had eight units attached to it. Every unit had the same fireplace installed. One day I decided to look into changing the glass doors on the fireplace, so I got on the net and started researching these modular fireplaces. Turns out they are literally made by only one company in the U.S. A company in Santa Ana California. Great, there local. So I call them up and start talking to them about different style doors, etc... finally when I have concluded the conversation I have the guy email a complete spec catalog on these units.

            I get the email, print it out and start reading the fine print on these fireplace inserts. Holly 'S' Batman I find a huge warning in the specs that says to not use "Pre-Fabricated Logs" You know the ones you buy like Pine Mountain brand. Turns out these because of the wax they use to bind the sawdust burn 100's of degrees hotter then conventional wood. Because of that they are known to cause fires in the smaller fireplace units used in condo/apt build outs. When I read that the first thing that flashed in my mind was my two neighbors just days earlier hauling in cases of PineMountain logs from Costco into there garages.

            I took that specification sheet walked over to everyone in my building and gave them a copy of it, with the warning highlighted. I then sent a copy to the Board of Directors and HOA management. Within a month every single home owner was warned not to burn those logs in the fireplaces.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

              So, whats the question??

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

                Ok, I get that its dangerous... So is a gas stove without electric ignition... Yet they still exist in homes. Here's my real beef with the original poster. Due to your lack of skills in sales, you turned into a tattle-tail. You couldn't convince the home owner to correct the issue, that is where you failed. Hell, if it worried you so much, and you couldn't convince him to repair it, you should have told him that for his safety and due to "law" (if that is the case) that you could not leave it. That you could either correct it with the correct parts or disconnect the feed and cap it. After you leave, its then out of your hands. If it was that bad a violation, why did you leave it connected, why couldn't you convince the home owner of the danger it presented? That's my beef... I see it no different than the nosy neighbor that won't confront neighbors and come to agreements on disagreements, instead just call the popo to handle it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

                  It's okay tough guy, not everyone is confrontational.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

                    Originally posted by dlarrivee View Post
                    It's okay tough guy, not everyone is confrontational.
                    I'm not a tough guy, trust me. I do however take issue with people that concern themselves with others peoples doings within ones own property...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

                      Originally posted by Alphacowboy View Post
                      No offence, but what gave you that right? It was HIS home, not yours. It may not have been safe, but that is his decision, not yours. What is someone came into your home and saw something that they deemed unsafe, but you were ok with it? How would feel about them calling the authorites? Sorry, but your responsibility ended with warning the home owner...
                      His was a townhome.
                      If the 1/2-inch gas line opened into a fireplace with closed damper, he could easily blow up his neighbors.
                      Of course he knew to light the gas. But I could see his cat jumping up on the hearth and tripping the switch or causing the wires to touch.
                      A wall light switch would have been far safer - difficult to accidentally turn on.
                      I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
                      It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
                      "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

                        Originally posted by Alphacowboy View Post
                        ...Due to your lack of skills in sales, you turned into a tattle-tail. You couldn't convince the home owner to correct the issue, that is where you failed. Hell, if it worried you so much, and you couldn't convince him to repair it, you should have told him that for his safety and due to "law" (if that is the case) that you could not leave it. That you could either correct it with the correct parts or disconnect the feed and cap it. After you leave, its then out of your hands. If it was that bad a violation, why did you leave it connected, why couldn't you convince the home owner of the danger it presented? That's my beef... I see it no different than the nosy neighbor that won't confront neighbors and come to agreements on disagreements, instead just call the popo to handle it.
                        I am not qualified to touch anything but soot.
                        I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
                        It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
                        "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

                          Originally posted by Robert Gift View Post
                          His was a townhome.
                          If the 1/2-inch gas line opened into a fireplace with closed damper, he could easily blow up his neighbors.
                          Of course he knew to light the gas. But I could see his cat jumping up on the hearth and tripping the switch or causing the wires to touch.
                          A wall light switch would have been far safer - difficult to accidentally turn on.
                          You happen to leave that point out.... Contacting the association of the town home would have been acceptable...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

                            Originally posted by Alphacowboy View Post
                            You happen to leave that point out.... Contacting the association of the town home would have been acceptable...
                            Did not know if there was one or who it would be.
                            Single family dwellings have blown up and killed others.
                            That valve is what I'd like to have for our house to shut off a stove we may accidentally leave on.
                            I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
                            It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
                            "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: DANGEROUS: Switch turns on gas valve to fireplace. No pilot to ensure ignition.

                              Are you asking the plumbing experts if you did the right thing? I just don't see why you threw this in here after a few years.
                              You should have just yanked it out so it wouldn't work, if you were that worried about it blowing up the whole town.

                              Comment

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